Chartering Single Waters

16 Jun

(This post was written earlier this year during the prime recovery of the break-up.While I’m healed from the transformation from duo to uno, making new friendships still proves to be tough which is why I chose to share this. I’ve learned much over the last few months and hope that by sharing this that perhaps someone else out there will have solace and know they aren’t alone in navigating the waters of Single Girldom .)

It starts when you say you’re single. They listen to the story of the break-up, taking your cues and either cursing him or saying he’ll rue the day he left you. They hand you tissues, offer ice cream and drunken nights on the town, offer up a rolodex of men they know who are single and are dying to meet you. It’s too early, so you say no. In retrospect you should have said yes to the nights on the town.

You need time. Time to heal. To get back on your feet. To jump back into your life. The new single life. One that is suddenly void of double dates on weekends, dinner parties, game nights, sporting events and any other coupled event. At first you keep a distance from couples because the love and the schmoopiness and the cuddling is tough to see. After awhile though? It seems that you’re no longer part of the group because you’re not a couple. Where do you put a single gal at a dinner party? Suddenly there’s a huge divide between the two of you, making it harder for you to attend the party full of couples. You’re honest with your friends but honesty only seems to make the divide grow.

Girls nights are tough to arrange because weekends are sacred which of course you recall from your days as a duo but still, there’s an aching desire to go dancing, twirl around while sipping on some ridiculously strong alcoholic drink, to laugh into the wee hours of the night, discuss fond memories, and just be girls. Saturday night rolls around and the night looms over you, hours slowly ticking away.  You feel a little bit lost, miss the camaraderie of days past. You’re alone in a sea of marrieds.*

You find that a few of your friends are single and you cling to each other like a life jacket during a hurricane. It’s hard when you receive invites to weddings despite the joy you have for your friends (you thought that it would be you sometime in the next year or two). It’s difficult when people ask you why you aren’t dating (evidently being single is a bit of a crime but after awhile, you kind of love being single. It can be incredibly fabulous and freeing.)

Over time you’ve learned to carve out a new life for yourself. Be thankful for the time that you have with your friends, married or single. You navigate the new unchartered waters; you’ve never before been single when your best friends have been married or near married. You tackle it as a challenge, determined not to let the friendships die. You care too much for these ladies who have been a part of your life for so long; you’ve stood by them through thick and thin and will continue to do so. Your true friends will always be there whether it’s been one week or one year since you’ve last spoken.  

As these friendships evolve, you take solace in the fact that someday it will be your turn. And that if it’s not the case for you have plenty of back-up plans (travel the world, adopt children, volunteer for many organizations, be the best Faux Aunt possible to all your friends’ children and the best Dog Mamma you can possibly be.)

Editor’s Update: I am by no means trying to say that only single people have hardships in their circle of friends or that I believe married people have an easier time of it than I do; this is merely my experience. I’m sure I’m partially to blame for the difficulties I face in this area of my life and I’m working to improve it. I have also been the girl in a relationship when everyone else is single so I do understand at least partially the loneliness that has been mentioned in the comments thus far.

* Though it may not seem so, I’m incredibly happy for all of my friends who are married and have found their happy ending. They are all more than deserving and I wish them nothing but the best, am thankful to have been in many of their weddings and to call them all friends. This post is not about jealousy  or envy but an honest look at how my friendship world has changed over time.
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29 Responses to “Chartering Single Waters”

  1. Maddy June 16, 2010 at 8:00 am #

    From the other side (“married”) looking in, I can totally relate to your initial feeling of isolation. You’d be surprised at how lonely it can get for the married girl. All of a sudden, you’re no longer “fun” to be around nor do you get invitations to night outs (because who wants to hang out when the married girl, anyways!). Also, you can’t just spill the beans, air out your frustrations and cry over ice cream about your spouse – because somehow you’re supposed to be living the “dream” now that you’re married and all the kinks are supposed to be *magically* ironed out when you say “I Do”. All that is to say that I think it’s easy to get wrapped up and think the other side (married or single) just doesn’t understand where you are coming from. But you’d be surprised at how much our on paths can mirror one another and how we both can simply use a friend. We all need friends and a support system outside intimate relationships.

  2. Nora June 16, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    Maddy:

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I don’t mean to imply that only single girls have hardships! I didn’t include the background but literally 90% of my friends got married within one year so they’ve enjoyed planning their weddings together, honeymoon discussions and having friends to turn to to discuss married life. I have always told them that I’m interested in listening, ask questions and etc, but they bypass me perhaps thinking I won’t understand. As far as I’m concerned a relationship is still a relationship, even if the dynamics are slightly the same. With that said, if you ever need to lend an ear, let me know :)

  3. Liz June 16, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    I was going to say something along the lines of what Maddy said, but I think she said it better anyway.

    Adult friendships are tough, no matter the situation. For singles, they don’t get invited to couples things and the idea of a perfect mate is still an idea. For marrieds, they don’t get invited to singles things and finding couples that are compatible with BOTH you and your spouse is near impossible. I’m fortuante to have found two couples that we really get along with, but even those are within the last two years. The first two years of being married? Very lonely. And don’t even get me started on the changes that come with marrieds having kids. That’s a whole other ballgame!

    Basically, I think we’re all going (or have gone through) major changes in our friendship world as we get older and our life paths change. But I hope we can always count on each other as friends, because you’re awesome and I heart you very much. :)

  4. Lisa from Lisa's Yarns June 16, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    Well, as a single girl in the sea of married with not one single girlfriend, I can completely relate. Although I will say I am to blame for the island I have created for myself. I don’t really reach out and make plans w/ my married friends very often, or if I do, I make plans w/ them on weeknights because I know weekends are sacred. I do have a married friend that is oh so good about including me on their weekend plans, so I am thankful for that.

    I was out for dinner w/ 3 married friends last week and when I lamented about how hard it was to be the only single girl in our group, my friend Amy spoke up and said how hard it was to be the only married girl in our group for the first 4 years of her marriage. So she said for as much as I feel like an outsider now, she felt like an outside then. So I try to remember that.

    But it’s hard. And now I am preparing to cross the 30 year old mark, and friends are starting families, which means my life resembles my friends even less day by day. Like you, I am oh so thrilled that they have found their husbands and are starting families. But it’s tough to be the ONLY single girl in the sea of happily every afters…

  5. Margarita June 16, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    This post rocked my world. I loved it. It is so real. Thank you for sharing and showing such a vulnerable side to us.

  6. Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks June 16, 2010 at 10:01 am #

    We’re talked about this before, but I stand firmly in the camp that it’s ridiculous to base your social interactions on whether a person’s marital status is the same as yours. I find it to be exclusive and one-sided and just lacking in diversity and an open mind. I think I’d shoot myself if I only hung out with other married people. Or only hung out with married friends and their spouses. There’s a time and place for everything. But, social settings, it is my belief, the more the merrier. I can’t tell you how many dinners I’ve gone to in mixed company that are hilarious and fun and lively and who the hell cares who is married and who isn’t. As life moves on, we journey to different chapters at different times. If we only relied on the people who are sharing in the same journey as us, our worlds would get pretty small very quickly. And that’s just a shame. Because this world is full of interesting and diverse people – we should embrace all of them. Period.

  7. Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks June 16, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    BTW, all that is to say that if we lived in the same city, you’d be included in lots of my social plans, regardless of whether Sweets was there or not.

  8. Amber from Girl with the Red Hair June 16, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    Now that Eric is gone I’m surrounded by girlfriends with boyfriends and it’s hard because they AREN’T available at the last minute to come over for a glass of wine or go for a walk. I still spend time with them 2-3 times a week but the plans are usually made far in advance. It’s a bit lonelier for sure.

  9. ria June 16, 2010 at 10:37 am #

    i don’t think you should have had to explain yourself at the end. i can’t even imagine you not being happy for your married friends or being jealous in a green-eyed monster kind of way.

    i try really hard to make time for all of my friends but it’s true there aren’t enough hours in the day. this post was very heartfelt and emotional. thank you for sharing it.

  10. MASHley June 16, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    i agree you didn’t have to explain yourself at the end. as the the engaged girl with mostly single friends that can feel lonely sometimes too. i think every situation can feel lonely at times. and i agree – sometimes telling your friends you feel lonely can only make you feel lonelier. not sure i have any solutions…. other than to know you do have friends, family, and eventually that special someone who will love you no matter what and do their best to make you feel not lonely

  11. Nora June 16, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    Thanks for the comment, Ash! I guess added the caveat at the end so people would understand a bit more where I was coming from; don’t want to look like I’m attacking either side here :) It’s funny how telling the truth sometimes can further isolate you. I love wedding planning and all things wedding related even though I’m not close to the engaged chapter of my life so feel free to reach out if you ever want to talk or bounce something of me!

  12. Brittney June 16, 2010 at 11:48 am #

    Well Maddy stole my comment! LOL. I have to agree it goes both ways. When I was single, I definitely felt oddman out amongst couples, but I think I can’t say for sure how isolating it could be because I was never a single gal with married friends at different life stages — so I can totally see how that plays a huge difference in the scenario!

    Now that I am not only one of the only ones with a partner, but actually married, I get the same issue. I get nagged at for wanting to spend time with my husband and left out because I’m now looking more for couple-friendly activities vs only girls nights out. I know how much people hate my being the girl who goes, “Can Sean come?” It makes me feel like I need to constantly hang without my husband simply because my gal pals don’t have boyfriends. I also get heckled because I prefer to not be out until 2am on my Friday, sloshed and looking for numbers.

    And I also know that, as we slowly gain married friends, we’ll probably feel that isolation again as our friends all morph into parents and we stay childless!

    So all in all? I’ve decided making friends at this age just is a toughie all around! LOL

  13. OurLittleAshley June 16, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing so honestly and openly.

    Aside from the whole marital status issue, like someone else said, relationships after college (‘adult’ relationships) are really difficult. I don’t see my friends very often at all – married or single. It makes me sad, but I know that at least I have Mike to hang out with all the time. If I didn’t have him, I probably would hardly see anyone expect people at work! (I know. This is sad. And pathetic.) I am social, but also a bit of a homebody (dinner and Hulu are my favorite nights), so being married is perfect for me because I can see Mike but still be a homebody.

    So, you have EVERY RIGHT to express the wide range of emotions you have a single woman in your mid-to-late-twenties. Plus, dating sort of SUCKS. The good part of dating is when you get comfortable with someone, you know? Not the polite stuff where you’re trying to figure out if this could work or not. (Some girls love that part of dating, but not me!)

    Like I think I told you in Indy, some of our favorite hang out buddies have been single friends! (We become a “trouple.” It’s fun.) I don’t discriminate against singles vs. marrieds – but I totally understand if a friend would feel awkward hanging out with an old married couple about to become parents. I mean, we’re sort of LAME.

    (The day I was telling my best friends I was pregnant? We were driving in my friend’s car and she was explaining that her friend got drunk and threw up in it the night before. I felt like an old lady – our lives were so different!)

    Okay, this is rambly. I apologize!

    Basically: you are kind and sweet and the best friend a person could have. To not hang out with you for any reason is just plain STUPID.

  14. Nora June 16, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    Well one thing I’ve decided I will do after writing this post: reach out to my married friends more. I literally have two single friends in StL right now and while they are amazing, I love social outings and people to hang out with so the more the merrier for sure. I reach out to my married friends now, but I am resolving to do a better job. If nothing else, I tried, they know they have a friend in me and I did what I could. And thank you for the offer; I’m pretty sure I lived near you I’d be begging to hang out with you, Sweets and your friends because they all seem so amazing!

  15. Kyla Roma June 16, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    I completely got where you were coming from in this- no explanation or qualifications required :)

    I think that mainly our mid 20s & 30s are the first time in our lives when we’re tackling life outside of a support system. You’re not in classes in person with people who are looking to meet and hang out, so it’s not as easy to readily find people who are in the same situation and can relate. No matter what you’re going through, it’s isolating! Suddenly you’re on your own- and going through something like a break up which is already jarring and isolating just compounds the whole thing.

    Separately, can I just say that I don’t get the division between singles and marrieds? I have friends who have straight out told me that I can’t understand them or their lives because I’m married, so they’re going to have to write me off for a while. And I’m sure that the reverse, what you’re experiencing here, is really common.

    I have single friends and married friends as an individual, and Jesse and I have single and married friends that we see as a couple. I have friends who are my age, and friends who are way older and way younger than me… but I don’t think that being the first of my friends to be married (and not having anyone who can relate to that process, or being in a really long term relationship) is any lonelier than what anyone else goes through in facing anything by themselves- from a new job to a health issue, to a break up or having a new baby. It’s all really, really hard at times.

    I’m *never* in the same exact place in life as any of my friends, that’s what makes our friendships dynamic and interesting- we have different perspectives and can bounce things off each other and grow because of it. It’s the wanting to connect and to learn about the people around us, both because of and in spite of our differences, that makes us more than fair weather friends. I’m glad you’re one of those :)

  16. Nora June 16, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Well for what it’s worth, I love it when the husbands/fiances/boyfriends of my friends come out with us; I love getting to know them and respect that it’s important to have time with your man! Move to StL and we can all go out together ;) I don’t blame you for not wanting to go to a bar to get sloshed and get numbers; I don’t like doing that either! I’m more of a wine bar/patio/live music/game night kind of girl.

  17. CLo June 16, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    It’s time for you to listen to Tim Kasher’s other band. Check out “Album of the Year” by The Good Life.

  18. hannahkaty June 16, 2010 at 10:20 pm #

    So I am not post break up but I feel the single girl syndrome quite often with my friends.. It seems that they all have been dating people all throughout college and I have been the single one. The one without the man. And its hard to handle sometimes at a bar or somewhere because I am clearly still looking but they are all chatting it up and loving life and talking about their relationships. And not that I don’t love life, but it is hard to meet people when all your girlfriends are set to stick together.

    Best,

    Hannah Katy

  19. mandy June 16, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    I love that you wrote this post and that its returned so many wonderful comments. I hear people talk about the difficulties of being the only single among married friends, but I don’t fully get it. This seems to be a non-issue for me among my circle of friends. I love my friends and their husbands. I hang out with my friends alone and their husbands and I never feel like the third wheel. Two of my best friends husbands have been bestowed with the term BFF-in-law. My best friends are like my family, and so are their husbands.

  20. Amy --- Just A Titch June 16, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    I’m in a relationship, but I feel the divide sometimes between my friends with kids…my friends who are single…but I love the diversity of the relationships created.

  21. Nicole @ LaughOutLoud June 16, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    Wow. I am in SUCH a not good place when it comes to this stuff lately, and I was (somewhat sadly) a little relieved when I read this (on my phone, where I can’t comment) this morning.

    THANKS for posting! Love it!

  22. OG June 17, 2010 at 4:59 am #

    No doubt it can be difficult being single, especially when all of your friends are couples. Even when I go out all of my friends have to be home by midnight.

    I never feel uncomfortable when I hang out with my couple friends or spend all day at 3 year olds birthday as the only single, kidless guy, but I do feel unproductive. Like perhaps I should be out in a situation where I could potentially meet my future partner-in-crime, but instead I’m putting myself in a place where there’s not a possibility. But I guess I’ve lost focus on that goal and instead, I’m just trying to enjoy life with the people I love hanging out with and figure that the rest will take care of itself.

  23. Emily Jane June 17, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    I think adult friendships in general are tough cookies – people are going through so many life changes especially from 20-30; and I know couples who, once married, socialise EXCLUSIVELY with other married couples and stop hanging out with their single friends solitarily – which to them makes sense but to me seems incredibly bizarre. I think if people are genuinely in different places in their lives to the point of not being relatable any more, then maybe it’s okay not to force a friendship, but I don’t think the labels of “married” or “mother” or “wife” or “single” should prevent people from being friends with each other. If you just happen to be a different ‘label’ you still might have a TONNE in common, but I’m not going to lie, I have a couple of friends who’ve recently had babies and the dynamic has definitely changed – I guess because I just don’t relate at all, yet, but that doesn’t mean one day the dynamic will shift again when we’re more on the same page. People come in and out of our lives at different points and they drift back in again when we’re more on the same page… I think the best we can do is just to embrace the diversity and the variations of relationships in the moment, without focusing too much on what label someone may or may not have attached to their relationship. :)

  24. J June 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    Such a great, true story. The older I get, the more I worry that if I’m ever single again, I’ll have to deal with that…because I dealt with it for 5 YEARS before…and it can be tough. Especially those Saturday nights where you end up watching TLC in your pajamas, eating cereal.

  25. Ashley June 17, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    I’m finding it scary the way that serious relationships and marriage are changing my friendships. I know that we’ll all come out on the other side, but in the meantime, even when I don’t feel sad for myself, I sometimes feel out of place. One of my friends makes an extra point to include me and not talk about her relationship, which makes me feel a little more uncomfortable.

  26. Renee June 17, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

    Girl, it’s funny how this hits close to home… but on the other end of the spectrum. The single friends no longer want to hang out with the lonely married gal so she’s forced to make friends with other married ladies. When you marry young and live in a suburb of mostly 50-somethings, it’s a tough thing to do.

    Life is evolving for every single one of us, and I think we’re all scared that we’re going to get left in the dust no matter what pace we set for ourselves. (I don’t know where I intended to go with that thought so I’ll just leave it be.)

    Married or single, I’ll always refer to you as “Nora, my grounded friend, the one who just seems to always GET it.” Seriously. I was just talking about you last night… :-)

  27. Nora June 17, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    @Ashley It’s definitely something we could use a road map or guide book on; it’s the one thing I wasn’t quite prepared for my in my “adult” life!

  28. Sarah June 18, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    I completely agree with you about having to find a new way to preserve your friendships when your friends are married. It’s a whole other ball-game, for everyone involved, and it takes a lot of figuring out. And nothing is more important than staying friends.

  29. Erin June 19, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    So yeah, I’m kind of in the same boat as Renee where our single friends completely abandoned us when we got married. It left us…well, sort of friendless. Personally, I don’t think marital status should have anything to do with whether or not people should be able to hang out, but it so often seems to interfere. And that’s sad. As someone who has been married for longer than most people in my age group, I can honestly say that I love hanging out with any of my friends…married, single, pregnant, etc. We just have to all remember to make time to fit into each others lives, no matter how different we think they might be.

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