Making friends with the new beau, seeing people less, Valentine’s Day… here are 7 challenges when everybody else is in a relationship.
Quite a while ago I wrote about my adventures as a third wheel. Some friends had observed that a majority of my friends were spoken for while I had been single and/or seemingly inactive. I decided I’d write about some of my experiences, and was surprised to find so many people write in to let me know they could really relate.
Fast forward to today, and many of my single friends are again sounding off their frustration with their dating or married counterparts. There are lots of reasons why they’re finding their current situation of singlehood to be a chore.
You know how it is. I know how it is. We all know how it is. So let’s go there. Here are 7 challenges when everybody else is in a relationship.
#1: Making friends with the new beau
So you’ve been hanging out and you have a pretty well established group of friends. You know Monday night is movie night, and Saturday night you’re all going to whoever’s birthday party it is together. But uh hello, who invited you? Enter the love interest, and he/she is in the “courting” stage with one of your friends. You know, they’ve talked about it, but they’re still “just friends”. They’re just coming along to “hang out”
And you feel like Timon at the start of Can You Feel The Love Tonight.
Yeah, good luck getting that out of your head.
And now they’re always around. Picking a movie, your mate goes “oh let me just check if Deb wants to see that one”. Organizing your girls’ outing, it has to be at a time when Henry can make it too cause he’s keen to come along.
I think making an effort with that person is super important if you want your friendship to grow together. Some of my closest friends also have wives and girlfriends and husbands and boyfriends who’ve become some of my closest friends too. Just gotta learn to expand the circle.
#2: Seeing people less
This one is always difficult. You know how it goes. When everyone’s single, they’re always like “Hey Matt, when I get a girl, it’s gonna be different, cause we’re still going to see each other all the time, and I don’t wanna be like those people who pulls away from everyone”.
Well, we all know how that turns out.
I’ve written a previous time about whether or not people change when they get in a relationship. So this time, all I really want to focus on is that when people do pull away, it’s quite challenging.
Cause they have a new best friend, but you feel like you’ve lost one. And that can be a real challenge. I guess it’s just a reminder that we always need to keep meeting people and growing our lives when people make decisions outside of our control after we’ve said how we feel.
#3: Not hating your singleness
Here’s the linchpin. It’s like in Seinfeld where Jerry is sitting on the pier thinking about whatever woman he’s having problems with at the moment, looking around and seeing all the couples holding hands or laughing together, and running off to try to make things better.
There can be a sense that you’re missing out. Everyone else seems to really be enjoying that companion.
Or maybe because of all the people you’ve had leave you because they started dating someone, you’ve become bitter and spiteful towards the togetherness of others #realtalk
Or maybe you’ve had a lot of rejection in your life, whether with family, friends, or the opposite sex. And because of your isolation, you feel like you don’t really matter.
The problem with these feelings is that you do matter. And there’ll be a time for it in your life. But I don’t think we should let people’s “success” become our failure, or feeling of failure. Maybe that person is still in training, still working things out, still getting their life together.
Or maybe it’s something else.
Either way, you’re probably going to miss your life if all you’re doing is lamenting your single status.
#4: Wanting to join the club
This is possible response number 1 to challenge number 3. We find ourselves wanting to join the club.
I was talking with a friend earlier this week who’s mega keen on someone, but just keeps having basic, surface level conversation with them. Hasn’t made a move, hasn’t put anything on the table.
Gotta be in it to win it, as they say.
#5: Wanting to kill everyone in the club
This is the other response to number 3. PDA sends you rage quitting your current conversation. If you see another love letter, you’ll kill someone. Your married friends can’t hold each other when you’re around cause you’ll breathe fire all over their relationship.
I’ve had a number of friends get engaged recently (it comes in waves, love is clearly in the air) and it’s been great. Following the engagement of one of my friends though, a bunch of people were belittling the decision because that person is “so desperate”. I would love to know what the criteria for “desperate” they were using – I think they were just referring to the fact that this person has put themselves out there a few times and proactively gone after people in the past, and having it not work out a few times. But this time it sure did with a very good person, so I don’t know what they’re complaining about.
I think our own personal desire to “join the club” can really destroy our celebration of others, and to be honest, it just makes you a useless and angry friend. You don’t want to be “that guy”, you want to be the guy or girl who celebrates their friends in their new seasons. I wouldn’t want to spend much time with so-called friends if they weren’t able to celebrate my happy moments either.
#6: Valentine’s Day (and other celebrations for couples)
You know how it is, single people.
I remember one year being in Canberra for work over Valentine’s Day. My colleague who had responsibility for our rental car had gone to bed early for the night, leaving me in my hotel room in the middle of glorious ACT while all my friends back home were together with their special ones. Other years it’s fallen on Saturday nights which has ruined planning anything on those nights, cause all the taken people are off with their luvvy dubby.
Not much else to say on that one, just that I’m sure there are times in our lives where others feel the same way about us.
#7: Keeping the right focus in life
All in all, I think whether single, dating, married, single again – wherever we find ourselves relationally, we need to keep the right focus in our lives. Our mission likely does involve another person, but regardless of whether they’re here with us or out there somewhere, we have such a significant calling on our lives that we need to give our best efforts to right now.
I think often in our singleness we either become obsessed with or dismissive of relationships in our lives, usually because of one or multiple of the above challenges. I don’t think either extreme is wise or helpful – I think we need to stay open, while at the same time pursuing the person we are called to be.
How about you? What challenges have you faced when everybody else is in a relationship? Can you relate to these ones? Can you relate to some other ones? Would love to hear from you.