I was sitting around a folding table at my high school friends’ 7th annual Friendsgiving. I realized I could count on one hand the number of single people in the room – including myself. And there were about 30 of us there. My glasses of Sauvignon Blanc consumed had surpassed the number of “singles” in the room.
Maybe I missed the memo or didn’t hear the biological alarm clock go off (I have been known to often sleep through them). It felt like I’d shown up to the Halloween party dressed as a gray-faced corpse bride and everyone else was in [insert sexy version of doe-eyed woodland creature here] costumes.
Returning home for the holidays from the “Big City”, I’d make sure to wear a ridiculous bell-sleeved top from Zara that would come dangerously close to falling into my mashed potatoes, flip my long hair and brush off flippantly how “dating sucks” in NYC, but “no one gets married until they’re 35 anyway so it’s like no rush, you know?” and confidently relish in my single-girl-swag.
But this past year, I felt panicked. This year I didn’t feel empowered by my singledom. This year I felt lonely. Even in a room surrounded by so many people I love. But they had new additions in their life, and I didn’t. And no one really talks about that.
When you’re a perpetually single friend, you depend on mainly three groups to supply you with the love and attention you require – family, friends, and pets. Save the crazy cat lady jokes. I’m a dog person.
Friendships don’t just exist so you don’t have to show up to a party alone – they’re the people you call when everything in your life is going wrong, or right, or when you did something really stupid and you need someone to say something like, “well you could have murdered someone, that’s so much worse”.
What people don’t talk about is when those friends find wonderful partners, and your role as their friend changes – it just does.
Neither side is easy.
Once you acquire a significant other, it’s like adding another giant item onto your to-do list. Keep the euphemisms to yourself, please.
Relationships shouldn’t feel like a chore or a stressor, but you do have to find time now to factor in date nights, figure out which plans to include them in, how to balance your friendships, how holidays will work, etc. It’s no cakewalk. I recognize that.
But on the flipside is the single best friend whose plans just got cut in half. Whose Friday nights in just became a lot more lonely and carb-y without their friend to split a box of pasta and make fun of really bad Nicholas Sparks’ movies with.
All of a sudden instead of bar hopping until 3 am and stumbling home with tacos and a phone number from a guy who owns a restaurant in the East Village where you’re “definitely going to brunch tomorrow”, everyone heads home at midnight after switching their last two drinks to water. No hangover, yes. But a waste of that good “first night in your new jeans” butt.
You wake up on Saturdays with literally no plans now. Kind of liberating. But then you also realize if you try and take a solo day trip to go apple picking in upstate New York and never make it back, how long until someone notices?
The single friend left behind period of adjustment is something we don’t often talk about. And when we do, the conversation focuses mostly on that friend going out and finding love themselves.
“Put yourself out there girl!”
“Have you tried Bumble?”
“This is your Sex and the City moment. Go date a ton of people. It’ll be fun!”
Putting yourself “out there” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For some people, maybe being the last single one standing is the kick in the butt they need to go after what they want in a relationship. Maybe it should be for me and I’m blatantly pushing it off and writing this article instead. Maybe.
But can I be honest here for a second? I’m sick of people acting like the only solution to my “loneliness” is finding a significant other myself. My loneliness doesn’t stem from needing to be in a relationship, it stems from the fact that I miss my friendships in the form they used to exist. When you’ve got a BFF shaped hole in your heart, a BF only partially fills it. It’s not the answer here.
Disclaimer: this is not one of those listicle pieces where I’m about to give you all the magical, secret solutions to the problem and tell you to go off and be the amazing human you are. Because that’s just not one of those pieces. Though, I’m pretty sure you are amazing.
This is a “you’re not alone” kind of piece. It’s important to talk about the life changes a lot of us go through, but no one really talks about because they’re not fun, or attached to parties or showers or registries. But your feelings are valid. You’re not crazy for feeling sad, or left out, even when the root of the sadness is good stuff – like your friends finding love and companionship.
Welcome to the club. The secret password is “I’m still awesome”.