In creating this blog and interacting with other singles I have identified two significant groups of single people. Those who have several other single friends to share the journey with, and those who are much more alone.
I would definitely place myself in the second category.
Lets not make the mistake of making alone and lonely synonymous. They’re not. I am alone a lot, but I am very independent and can only spend so much time around people anyway. Interacting with students all day at work makes me not want to spend any more time interacting socially and building relationships when I come out of work. I prefer to spend a lot of my evenings alone. This doesn’t mean I’m never lonely, but they are certainly different.
I have 4 single friends. Out of all of the people I know, there are only 4 I know that are single. I am fortunate enough to know them well enough to call them friends.
They’re not a close knit group of friends. In fact only two of them know each other, and one of those is a serial dater, so I use the term ‘single’ loosely with her. I know she won’t be for long. The other two are from completely different friend groups. Why is this relevant I hear you thinking? Because there’s a firm picture in your mind of a group of single girls hanging out, exchanging dating stories, going out on Friday nights together, are you thinking of the lives of the women in Sex and the City, Pitch Perfect or Girls? The stories about this epic girl gang that stick together? That is simply not my truth. And quite honestly, if it were, I’d probably enjoy single life a lot more.
So, no single girls group.
What does that leave me with? A LOT of friends who are in couples. For me that mostly means long term relationships or marriages. People whose lives are being firmly built around the other and a shared future.
Now please hear me when I say I am truly, truly happy for these friends. I have had the best time celebrating their relationships at their weddings and being a part of their journey. I’m also not jealous of them. I’ve found that as I’ve got older and this has become reality for more and more of my friends, I’ve backed further and further away from this being for me in the near future.
Once in this firm relationship, priorities change.
There are only so many hours in the day, and you want to share them with your partner. Simply in the act of making more time for them there is less time for everything else. In most cases this means a little less time socialising with friends.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. In order for a relationship to be successful you need to nurture it, which requires time. But so do friendships. And often many friendships become less important after these big life changes. How many times have you heard people talk about how many people that were at their wedding that they don’t see any more. It is a significant point in your timeline.
The friends you have/want/need when single are different to those when you are married. Friendships work through shared experiences and shared histories. And now your single friends only have one thread in common with you.
But that’s not my fault.
Spending less time with me is a given. And one I accepted a long time ago. What I hadn’t realised is how much time and why.
It could be because of who I am, it could be because of our reduced shared experiences, or just due to less time meaning less connection so in turn less time spent together. But it can feel personal. Not because it is (I love my friends enough to believe it’s not personal and it’s not about me) because it’s about something personal, something big about me. My singleness.
It seems (from my perspective, which of course is very one-sided on the matter) that these couples spend a lot of their social time with other couples, or in big group socials. Big group things aren’t so much my preference (unless I know everyone then they’re my absolute favourite!) But I prefer getting my one on one time with everyone. I understand how a couples ‘one on one’ social time makes sense to be spent with another couple. There will be more shared experiences and understanding, and both individuals can have their one on one conversation with someone who is very similar to them. It also makes sense as it means they are still spending time with each other. With most of my couple friends there tends to be one who I am better friends with, so may only spend time with them- reducing their couple time again.
Although I understand all of this, it’s unfair on those of us who’ve been forgotten. That’s what it feels like sometimes. When so many of your friends are in relationships, and they prioritise each other and other couples it leaves you feeling pretty alone.
It’s tough when you don’t feel that important to people you care about, but as I said before, I’m independent and used to spending a lot of time alone. So on a daily basis it’s really ok. I don’t make a huge effort to interact with friends like they don’t with me. And most friends still make enough time to see me for a few hours every few months (although I do seem to always be the one organising this…).
My main problem is having no-one to do things with.
I have a pretty undramatic life, so I can deal with not really having anyone to talk to about my day. And I know the people to go to if I do find it a bit challenging. But I struggle most with who to make plans with.
If I want to go to the cinema, to see a show, to go ice skating, to go on holiday- who do I ask? I don’t have my single girl group to make plans with. And my friends in couples don’t just prioritise their time with their other half, but also their money. They regularly tell me they can’t go on holiday because they’re already going here and here with their partner and need to save for that. It is perfectly valid, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to do that. But it’s just a tiny thing that shows me they’ve forgotten about their single friends’ lives.
I don’t automatically have someone to go on holiday with, and if my coupled friends can’t come with me, I’m left with often no options. And quite frankly, it’s annoying. For a while a lack of the ‘right’ friends (those in the same place in life as me who want to spend their time and money travelling) stopped me from doing things. Nowadays I take the stance that no-one is going to stop me from doing what I want to do, even if that means doing it on my own. (I’ll talk more about solo travel in a future post).
SO, those of you in a relationship. Please take a moment to think of your single friends. Do you still give them your time? Likelihood is they are much more ‘alone’ than you and would appreciate your time. Have you ever thought about who they spend time with when it’s not you? Do they have people to have adventures with? Or could you be the one to adventure with them?
Find me on twitter: @Singlesalliknow