First, a quick update about Tiger – let’s just say I’m an idiot and despite red flags and such I continued to see him. Everything was fine, we were having fun, I just peered into the future and knew issues would eventually arise so last week I told him we should go our separate ways. He seemed to agree but then I got texts for three more days asking me to go out again, and I had to send a few more firm messages asking him to stop. Then I strangely missed him chasing me. I realized yesterday I have something I need to return to him and I’m hoping that I can stay strong and not fall back into seeing him again when that happens. Wish me luck!
I can remember times in high school and college where I felt like I was the only single girl in my group of friends. My first kiss was at 17 from a boy I only mildly liked; I suppose you could say he was my first boyfriend but I wasn’t terribly invested in him. No case of young love there.
In college I had short-term relationships but it seemed like I was surrounded by girls who’d met their true loves. My roommate had a long distance boyfriend and she’d spend hours talking to him on the phone each night. Girls in my sorority were getting lavaliered and pinned. I’d write lengthy entries in my journal about boys who didn’t know I existed, lamenting that I’d be single forever.
I was not even 21 yet. Oh, the dramatics.
Then I met Kyle and we entered the land of couples, where we stayed for fifteen years. Our friends partnered off, had children and by the time I divorced earlier this year, almost every friend and family member my age in my circle was married or in a serious relationship.
After more than a decade with the same person and identifying myself as one half of a couple, I suddenly felt like an outsider in a world I’d once belonged in.
Now, I should explain that Kyle and I stopped getting invitations to couples parties long ago. Kyle is fiercely anti-social, though he can fake politeness and small talk with enough motivation for a short amount of time. He would complain every time we met up with other couples, however – leading up to the get-together and then for days afterward (“Your friend’s husband hates me,” “Your friend’s boyfriend is an asshole,” “Why did we have to go to that restaurant?”). Instead of enjoying time with other couples, I started to dread it. Kyle wasn’t always able to hide his disdain or discomfort. So I began turning down invitations and stopped inviting others to go out with us.
As a result, invitations faded. I’d look at photos on Facebook with envy as friends shared their memories of couples-only Halloween parties, ugly sweater parties, dinner clubs, bonfires, weekends away.
Now that I’m single, I’m still not invited, now for different reason. I read Nina Badzin’s essay about the value in spouses having other couple friends and felt a pang of sadness at not having that in my life, but not bitterness. I get it – I’m sure friends think it would be awkward for me to be the only un-partnered person at the party. I’d probably feel uncomfortable, too, looking around at the husbands and wives teasing each other, boyfriends and girlfriends sitting close to each other on the couch, wondering if everyone else feels sorry for me for sticking out as the odd number. It can be hard to be the third (or fifth or eleventh) wheel. A husband and wife don’t want to go to dinner with just one other woman, they want to go with another woman and a man for balance. My paired-off friends are busy on the weekends because they are savoring the work and school-free time they have with their families; there are only so many times my girlfriends can get away for a girls night with me.
If and when I ever enter into a relationship again, being with a man who enjoys the company of other friends, couples or otherwise, will be non-negotiable. I’m a social person and want to be with someone who can also appreciate having friends and getting out of the house. He doesn’t have to love it as much as I do, but to at least get some entertainment from that will be a must.
Holidays are the hardest. This past 4th of July the kids were with their dad, and every other person I knew in the world was spending time with their families or significant others. For the first time in my life, I was facing a holiday evening alone, but then my sister insisted I come over and join her and her husband for wine on their deck, for which I’m grateful. This Halloween I’ll go trick or treating with the kids but then they go back to Kyle’s and I have no other plans. New Year’s Eve the kids will be with him, too. This is entirely new to me – I met my ex husband so young I never had years of singlehood to learn to deal with the unique loneliness that comes from being alone on days when it feels like everyone else in the country is together, without you.
So married folks – couple friends are wonderful and make for nice, even numbers at the dinner table. But if you have friends who are divorced or single, consider asking them to your parties and celebrations every once in a while. They may turn you down, but they’ll at least know you still think about them as worthy social buddies.
Photo by Hendrik Dacquin used under creative commons license.