As a permanently single individual I experience the World in a slightly different way to others. Some differences are obvious and expected. Others are probably unknown to the majority. But those differences exist regardless and sometimes that leaves us needing more support than you think, even for us strong independent women (yes I’m referencing Destiny’s Child).
In life it is very easy for us to take things for granted. I know there are so many things I don’t appreciate enough. I think that individuals in a relationship take things for granted that singles don’t have, and I mean way beyond the obvious. Here’s just a few challenges and ways that you can make it easier.
Time: Make time for your single friends.
It sounds so obvious, but how much less did you hang out with your friends once you got into your relationship? It’s pretty normal, there’s nothing to be defensive about, we understand it and no-one’s asking you to make big changes. But think about your friendship groups. How many singles are there? Are they massively outnumbered by those in relationships? Do they have other singles in the group to hang out with? Have you ever stopped to think about what your single friends are doing when you’re spending time with your other half? Depending on the person how that time is filled that you use to nurture your relationship is massively different, but they probably have a lot less social interaction than you (especially if you live with your partner).
One thing I’d like you to think about is how to prioritise your single friends over those in a relationship. They are often the ones who need your friendship and that social interaction more and are regularly the ones who get it the least. And don’t you dare exclude them with couples only activities. What a kick in the face to spend less time socialising then choosing to only socialise with those people who get more social time anyway? Just think it through.
Travel: Involve your friends in your travel plans.
With very few single friends planning holidays has become much more difficult for me. I understand that you only have so much money and so many days off to go on holiday and you of course want to do that with your other half. I’m sure I’d be the same in that position. But you already have the ultimate advantage. You always have someone to go on holiday with, someone who’ll probably go along with your holiday idea, even if it’s not exactly what they want to do because it’s for you. But you’ve planned your couple holiday, now you have no time off or no money left to go on holiday with me. Now that doesn’t sound so bad, it’s bound to happen, but when it happens with almost everyone you know it starts to feel like other people’s relationships are deeply affecting your life. There are so many places I’d like to visit, but no-one o go with (that’s certainly how it feels, though I’m sure that’s not always the case, but even trying to figure out who the right people are to go on that holiday with you is a challenge!) In my case that has led to solo travel, but it took me years to feel comfortable doing this, and it’s still not quite the same…
Physical contact: How often does someone touch your arm?
Genuine question. As a single person you miss out on the simplest platonic affectionate physical contact. As we’ve gotten older we don’t hug as much, or at least that appears to be the case with my friends. There’s no snuggling on the sofa to watch a movie like there were regularly in the Uni days! I receive very little physical contact. It’s not a point I think about much, it is just my life. But it’s something I imagine a lot of people in relationships haven’t thought about. So, y’know, hug your single friends every now and again, it means a lot.
Needing someone: Who’s your ‘go-to person’?
I have certain friends who I’ll go to for specific things, or who I’ll do certain activities with. (My friend M is my go to for shopping or theatre, my friend P is my go to for dinner or movies) But I haven’t found a ‘go-to person’ to speak to at the end of a rough day (which isn’t completely rare when you teach teenagers.) And I assume that for most people, it is their other half which they go to. But it’s not just having someone to go to, it’s the knowing that they’re always there and the expectation that they’ll be there to listen and to support you every single day. They will ask you about your day and push you if it seems like you’re not yourself or something has happened. I don’t have that. So please look out for your single friends. Be someone who will check up on them, because they may not have anyone doing that.
Motivation: Support your single friends on the path they want to be on
I go through distinct phases. A few weeks where I am my best self and I eat healthily and go to the gym everyday, followed by a few weeks where I buy snacks on the way home from work every day and avoid exercise at all costs. I need someone here to encourage me, and sometimes even push me to do things that I should do (the number of times I’ve left doing laundry for weeks is a perfect example). I need someone to make me go to the gym and to hide the snacks from me. I think I’d be a bit of a better all rounded person with more motivation and more people helping to motivate me.
The day to day: what everyday tasks to you get to share?
I am a single independent woman. This means that I have to do everything that needs to be done. There’s no-one else to do it for me. If I don’t do the laundry it won’t be done. If I’m not feeling up to social interaction but i need to call my bank it could be weeks before it actually gets done. I cook every day. I prepare my lunch for work every day. I clean, I tidy, I do the food shopping (and without a car that also means carrying the shopping). Just once it would be nice to have someone else do one of these things for me. This is why I relish visiting my parents in school holidays, it means a rest from me looking after me as someone else is instead.
I’m sure there are lots of you reading this wondering why we can’t just do these things with our friends. We can, it’s not a need for a partner, it’s a need for someone who WANTS to be there. Some may not have many friends, others may only have friends in relationships. If the latter is the case that regularly means less time and focus from that person from now on, but it also means you’re no longer their go to person. It now often means they’ve already seen that movie or booked that holiday with their significant other, forgetting that then leaves you on your own to do those things. And sometimes, you just don’t want to.
Over the years as more and more of my friends got married, and more of my friends moved away I found myself left behind. I’ve ended up being in a different place to them, physically and where I’m at in life. My friends are still there, and I know deep down if something were to go wrong they’d be there in an instant if I needed them. But whilst I may not be having any crises that I need friends to get me through, what about the every day things you want to do with someone? Sometimes a girl just wants to ask someone to do something without being told they’ve already done it with someone else.