All my friends are in relationships... and I'm not
June 6, 2009 7:16 PM   Subscribe

How do I deal with being the only single one amongst my group of friends?

I'm a guy who's been single for the last four years or so. I'm in my mid-twenties and had only one real relationship of meaning. In the mean time I've watched friends go in and out of long term relationships, sometimes in a manner that seems almost instantaneous.

Recently I've found to be most difficult is the fact that on most weekends I'm going to be on my own... And it's weird. Because even a year ago, when the situation was the same, I still felt like every weekend I didn't have to wonder if I was going to be scrambling for someone to hang out with on a Saturday night.

In the past it's been extremely hard. Like the one time I hung out with four couples over holiday and was the only single one. My fault for going into that, but the alternative was staying home and doing... nothing.

I am dating at the moment, although little if anything ever seems to come of it. I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do/how I'm supposed to feel about the fact that I'm still young and eager for social contact but can't seem to find any in the people I hold most dear.

Lastly, it's hard for me not to feel resentment. Not that I act on it, I do my best to keep those kinds of negative feelings to myself. But a part of me does resent the fact that when my friends are single I'm always there for them to hang out with when they feel lonely and yet once they find a girlfriend, the script flips and I'm back to sitting on my ass wondering where all my friends went. I didn't think being young was supposed to be a time of solitude... But then here we are.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
You can try to talk to your friends about how your feeling, I'm sure they'd understand but in the end I'm not sure how much it would accomplish. You're friends are just tied up in their relationships, try having BBQs with them during the day. Tell everyone to invite friends and maybe you can meet someone new to hang out with.

There are plenty of other people out there that feel exactly the same way that you do. Branch out, find people with similar interests, eventually you'll find someone who needs a friend to go out with on the weekends too.
posted by sporaticgenius at 7:32 PM on June 6, 2009

Thank the FSM that someone posted this question! Being unmarried and 24 in MN practically makes one a spinster. My friends are awesome, but paired. *lurks*
posted by ShadePlant at 7:35 PM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't know what city or town you live in, but if you are in/near a large one, there might be a ton of groups you can join. For example, I am a single person and have attended events in the past from:

- A writing group
- A vegetarian group
- A Scrabble-playing group
- Fitness classes
- Yoga/martial arts classes
- Author readings at the library
- Open mike nights/music acts (my cousin has a band and I often get invites to his gigs)

There are also festivals, concerts etc. many of which are free going on all the time. So there is always something going on! Plus when you go to a group event, most people going are going on their own or with a large group of others, so it is not such a couply thing.
posted by JoannaC at 7:45 PM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, we have one single guy in our group of friends1 who never seems to be dating anyone. He's successful (runs his own business, it employs many and it's very successful), he's attractive, he's funny, he's a genuinely great guy, and for whatever reason he just doesn't ever seem to be dating anyone, man or woman.

And you know what? We love the guy. He's a great friend. We could give two shits that he's not hooked up. It simply doesn't matter. We invite him to every get together, and we'd be sad if he didn't show up.

So don't sell yourself short; you don't have to be hooked up to hang out with hooked up people, if those people are your friends.

Of course, when they're in new relationships...well, that's their license to hide from everyone else, not just you. And for that part, it's really up to you to get out more, meet more people, and for goodness' sake risk rejection once and a while and ask some people out. It'll hurt when you get rejected, but I promise all your hooked-up friends have gotten hurt more times than you can imagine.

1all between 35-45, mostly married couples with a couple of single-but-dating-folks people in the mix, and we mostly got to know each other when we were all single
posted by davejay at 8:00 PM on June 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

I wish your post wasn't anonymous because I would memail this instead of just complaining on here for everyone to read, and because I have no useful input and just wanted to say I'm in the same boat.

I think about this every week. Especially tonight. ALLLL my friends are out at weddings/family gatherings/camping trips with their significant others, I've been sitting at home alone all night thinking about this. It sucks. I'm 24, have only had one significant relationship, I've been single for 3 years, I've been trying to date and all, but nothing ever works out seriously where I could have a steady person that I *know* I will see on a Saturday night, or even a person that I will know I will see in a week.

My friends love me single or not, as I'm sure your friends do too. But a lot of time couples don't feel the need to do something fun on a friday night, or to go out on a saturday night, or to invite other people over for a bbq in the afternoon because they always have someone to hang out with. Sure, they invite me for bigger events, but if they live 10 mins away from each other and are just going to grab dinner, they're not gonna call me up. And why should they go out on a saturday night when they can stay in and be just as happy together, and more comfortable. So there's a lot of time that I wish I had something like that to do, but have literally no one to do that with because alllllllllll my friends are in relationships.

I've been on dating sites for 3 years, met a ton of guys on there and in real life, and nothing ever works out. One of my friends goes on a dating site for a week, meets an amazing girl, they are now engaged 6 months later. Like you said, some people can just meet people and be in a relationship and know that that's the person they want to spend all their time with, and it's hard to not have anyone like that who wants to spend all their time with YOU.

And same as you, every trip we go on, I'm always the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th wheel. It's hard when you're all drinking by a fireplace or something and everyone is all cuddly and I'm just sitting there playing guitar or something.

People are going to suggest hobbies, which are a nice distraction, but really, they don't make you forget that you're only doing them because you have nothing better to do.

Keep in mind that you won't be single forever, that your friends still care about you just as much, it's just that people overall kind of suck and have a tendency to disappear when they're in a relationship.

Are you by any chance in the NY/NJ area? ;)
posted by KateHasQuestions at 8:55 PM on June 6, 2009 [6 favorites]

Let me know if you come up with a hobby or distraction that works, instead of just it being something to do to pass the time!
posted by KateHasQuestions at 8:57 PM on June 6, 2009

And why should they go out on a saturday night when they can stay in and be just as happy together, and more comfortable.

I can almost guarantee you that they are sitting at home thinking, "Holy crap, we're bored. I wish one of our cool single friends would call us and invite us to something." I agree completely with davejay -- hanging out with couples is only as much of a problem as you make it. Your question makes me think that you are just sitting at home waiting for people to call you, but I bet if you called some of these couples and asked them if they wanted to do something they'd be thrilled to do so. Being in a long-term relationship can make getting stuck in a rut very easy, and it is refreshing to do things with different people.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:26 PM on June 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

Katehasquestions is right. If you are not in the NY/NJ area, move here. The ratio of single guys to single girls seems disgustingly in favor of the men most of the time.

Relocation aside, have you told your friends that you are unhappy being single and asked them to hook you up with someone? They may think of someone who will mesh well with both you and the group!
posted by slateyness at 10:09 PM on June 6, 2009

Get some new friends. You are single, enjoy it! Get out there with some new, single pals and love life! Or, find some buddies who aren't tied at the hip to their boyfriends/girlfriends and can spend Saturdays apart. If you are groaning at your own singleness (which is a state of affairs equally awesome to being in a couple), then you need to get out and meet new people so you can date some of them! Either that or you're just going to be lurking around like a vulture, waiting for one of your current friends' relationships to fall apart. Seriously: Get out.
posted by tamarack at 10:32 PM on June 6, 2009

Pretty much the same scenario for me. I have 2 groups of friends, I am the single one. What Ive found is to take up a hobby that you like but you can also do with a few people, and it keeps people busy so there isn't time for couple time. For example my friends and I enjoy beer so one of my friends picked up a beer brewing kit and it became the guys activity to once a month get together, grill and brew beer. It was just the guys, no couples and was enjoyable time. Another hobby was Disc Golfing, you can invite your friends out and would get people active and then when your out on the course you make friends with other people who enjoy it so you become friends with them and already have something in common with them. So my advice is to find a hobby that you enjoy and can include your friends in and meet other people.
posted by lilkeith07 at 11:01 PM on June 6, 2009

Make sure you're like the guy davejay describes-- good to be with. Invite your friends over. Make dinner... no matter how busy a couple is, people like to be fed.

If you are inviting you over and they always turn you down, then get new friends. (I've been there... closely associated with a bunch of people from college and much of the time felt left out. Made some new friends who seem to like me more. :)
posted by zompist at 11:14 PM on June 6, 2009

KateHasQuestions: Hobbies are not things you do to pass the time becasue you have 'nothing better to do' - you do them because you enjoy them, you MAKE time to do them. If you play guitar why not get a band together? Put an ad in Craigslist or something. It doesn't have to be serious, just a fun thing for jamming or playing covers. Seriously, your Saturday nights will be packed and you'll meet loads of people who you might actually have something in common with.
posted by freya_lamb at 11:20 PM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you live in one of those areas where there aren't single people? Just wondering.

Honestly, I'd say to go make single friends. The usual "take classes and join clubs and hit the bars" kind of advice applies to that here. I don't much like saying it to you, but it doesn't sound like you live somewhere cool like davejay where people don't mind hanging with the singles. I'm all in favor of davejay's crowd (mine is like this), but some places just don't seem conducive to singletons and Smug Marrieds mingling, and it sounds like you're there.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:24 PM on June 6, 2009

Sometimes, being in a relationship is less fun than being single. Think about the good aspects of it.
posted by hpliferaft at 11:46 PM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

You have a few options:

1. get some new friends
2. get in a serious relationship
3. find some way to adjust to your current situation
posted by b1tr0t at 12:29 AM on June 7, 2009

Don't rush things just because your friends did. Life is long.
posted by caddis at 12:50 AM on June 7, 2009

I'm not in exactly the same situation, but have similar experiences. I'm in a long-distance relationship with person living in another country. 2+ years now. We're monogamous, so neither of us have hooked up nor is willing to consider hooking up with anyone else.

With my friends I am in between two worlds. Happy couples annoy me because it reminds me of what I am missing (on one particularly memorable occasion there were 13 of us at a restaurant: 6 couples and me). With my single friends, most of them are actively trying not to be single which involves a lot of clubs and parties etc. which I find draining and frustrating (even when I was single).

So, to finally answer your question: what I've had to do is find what makes me happy, on my own, independent of a relationship and friendship. This is sometimes as simple as reading a book, playing a game, watching a film, doing some writing or just going on long walks (with or without my camera). I do recommend doing social activities that you enjoy, as that increases the chances of actually meeting someone but dealing with people who are in relationships is made easier when you are comfortable in your own skin, or at least with your own life.

Don't get me wrong, I love my friends dearly and enjoy their company more often than I don't, but through hard work I've gotten to a place in my life where they could all disappear and though I would be sad, my life would still have meaning, purpose and happiness. This helps especially with people who disappear the second they stop being single.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:08 AM on June 7, 2009

I'm in a similar boat. I just try not to rely on my friends for fun. They are fun, of course, and I love them all, but I try not to depend on that as the only source of good times. Plan your own things and get them to come along. If they aren't keen on coming out, then perhaps it's time to look for other people to spend more time with, in which case this becomes a regular case of 'how do I make friends', instead of the tricky couple conundrum.
posted by twirlypen at 5:08 AM on June 7, 2009

I agree with Rock Steady. My wife and I are pretty boring, and we hang out at home a lot. When we do fun stuff it's usually because one of our single friends thought it up. Maybe you should become more of an instigator?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 7:28 AM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm in my late twenties, and in a similar situation. My friends are all taken, and the thought of going to a bar (or most any event) *by myself* is somewhat intimidating. I love my friends, but it's easier for them to stay in for the night rather than going out. I can respect that.

Anyway, my "solution" is riding bikes. No, seriously. I'm not sure what kind of location you're in, but I'm in a city with enough to do and places to people watch, if you're willing to get up and go. I'm a big reader, so I can bike to the lake with a book, find a spot where I can "see and be seen", and there's a good chance I run into someone (usually a random acquaintance that I vaguely know) and hang out with them for awhile. It's much easier during the day than at night, obviously. I also hunt around for interesting goings-on in the area - there is always something happening (block parties, art openings, etc.), and your coupled friends probably aren't as proactive about finding stuff like that, so invite them!

Also, one of my best friends and I bought dirt cheap season tickets to the NBA last year ($3/game). It was a good excuse to shoot the breeze for a couple of hours, and it made for a sort of "obligation" to go to the games. We actually went to EVERY SINGLE GAME last season even though our team sucked - it gave us both something to do and a reason to get out of the house in the middle of the winter. Your friends in relationships also probably need some space, and might not want to hang with the significant other every waking moment.
posted by antonymous at 10:22 AM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

I could have written this question myself, but I believe it is harder if you're a girl because it is less acceptable to go and do things by yourself (I get questioned if I go for a bike ride on a park trail by myself!)
But I do feel your pain, it is weird being the 3rd wheel with coupled friends (especially when the guy half the couple seems to be attracted to you).
However, I am in a pretty interesting job (newspaper reporter, at least this month) where I have to do a lot of things by myself, so I'm used to it.
Hobbies like photography and cycling are things you can do yourself and are still fun.
Good luck! At least you are not a girl!
posted by greatalleycat at 10:30 AM on June 7, 2009

I feel your pain. Also in the same boat so not much advice from me.
posted by special-k at 10:59 AM on June 7, 2009

The angst that comes with being single will always be there so I can't help with that. But for not having much to do on weekends, here is some advice.

- Become a regular at a coffee shop/bar. Go there and take reading material with you. I do this a lot. I read a lot (for work and fun) and rather than sit at home, I just do it at a coffee shop/bar/brewery. Within a few visits, the bartenders/baristas will start to recognize you and so will the regulars. It's really easy to make small talk with the other folks sitting at the bar and sometimes you'll make a new friend. There more interactions you have, the more likely that something will come off it.

Example: My couple friends now rarely have time off to go snowboarding. I was complaining to a bartender and learned that she snowboards too (and cannot find people to go with). We managed to carpool up to the mountains a few times this past winter and had an awesome time.

- Twitter can also useful this way. I moved to a new city a few months ago and don't know many people there. One afternoon I was sitting at a bar, checking twitter, and I looked at who was tweeting nearby [tweetie does this]. This woman was tweeting about a fundraiser at a nearby art gallery. I walked over, we met up, and eventually organized a tweetup. Now I have a new friend and a new social circle.

- Go to meetups. Organize one on Mefi. Or go on and find something local.

- Through the above mentioned twitter friend, I go introduced to this non-dating social networking site for post-college age people. It's very much like facebook but just for my city and members frequently post events or just happy hours. I've met a bunch of people that way. Perhaps there is something similar near you?

- Do you play sports? Is there a local ultimate frisbee/volleyball league? These types of events are so easy to join as a single person and a great way to make new friends. Just google any of these events with your zip code and see if a local league/pick up game pops up. You don't have to be good at it. Just show up.

Good luck, I hope you are able to snap out of this.
posted by special-k at 11:25 AM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's a very basic fact of life that over time, some friends grow more distant. For me, it was when half the people I knew moved across the country for grad school. You may grow close to these particular friends again, (life is long), but for now, accept what's going on. At any given time, some friends will be growing more distant, so to balance that, you also have to be adding new friends or growing closer to other acquaintances or renewing old friendships. Check all the past "how to make friends" questions that have been posted.
posted by salvia at 12:05 PM on June 7, 2009

Here's another vote for becoming an instigator. A friend of mine is in a long-distance (opposite ends of the continent) relationship, but his social life is *much* fuller than mine because he's the guy who's always hosting, and we all know that we can always drop by his place for Saturday night desserts, monthly board game night, etc. The fact that these are regularly planned events helps -- every weekend when we're trying to figure out what to do, we know that "T's place for creme brulee" is an option, and more often than not, we end up dropping by.
posted by TheLittlestRobot at 3:43 PM on June 7, 2009

Hobbies aren't just a distraction! They are a pathway to having new experiences, through which you meet and interact with a number of new people with similar interests, which will in turn lead to greater chances of making new friends! There might even spring new partnerships. If not the friends, then they're likely to have friends of their own.

Among your own friends, I umpteenth the suggestions of being the instignator, especially of things that could be regular. Say, going out to dinner on the fourth Saturday of each month. Tuesday poker. Sunday sessions at different bars with good tunes. Everyone loves a good organiser.
posted by roshy at 11:25 PM on June 7, 2009

I'm the token single guy. All my friends are married couples.

I actually enjoy it.
posted by Thistledown at 8:39 AM on June 8, 2009

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