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Lessons For The Single, Unwed, or Childless Friend

December 21st, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

The only way I could hang out with my best friend of 15 years tonight was if I went with him to his little girl’s school recital. There was a time in my life when I would have told him to just call me after the recital was done, but tonight I agreed. I’m home until December 30. There are plenty of nights him and I can get drinks, flirt with women, and talk about the world using an unnecessary amount of expletives, so yeah, scheduling, there’s that; but that’s not why I accepted the invitation.

My boy didn’t have to invite me to his daughter’s concert, but he did. The gesture was a testament to how we’re more like brothers than friends. You should have heard the way he asked, like he was inviting me to come watch a game with him or some other customary fellowship in which men partake. I didn’t find it unusual, but I knew it was. The last time we were hanging out at school concerts, we were performing in them.

In addition to my best friend, my married best friends just had child number two, a beautiful girl. While I’m home, I’m going to see them and my new Goddaughter. All around me, my friends are living new lives, which means to some extent, I am too.

People may not say it out loud, but nothing challenges life-long friendships like children, marriage, or new relationships. Some friends are fortunate to find themselves doing any one of these things within the same window of time as one another, but most of us fare like this:

A friend of ours is shopping for baby formula while we’re still shopping for contraceptives. They’re ring shopping, we’re waiting for our phone to ring. They’re on date number 300 with the same person, we’re on date number one for the 300th time.

These things tear friends apart and sometimes, we the single, we the unwed, we the childless, have only ourselves to blame.

I remember when my boy told me he was having a child, just a couple of weeks after I came back from visiting home. During that visit, we went out nearly every night, living life as bachelors and wanting it to end never. When he told me he was having a baby, I could have sworn those nights were gone for good.

Some of us are so convinced kids, marriage, boyfriends and girlfriends, change our friends, sometimes to the point where we change on our friends. Now when we go out, we invite our other childless, single friends, and don’t even think to invite the married friend or the friend with kids. After I told one of my other friends who is married about a night our group went out sans him, he half-jokingly said, “I guess when you’re married, you stop getting the calls to go out.”

He had a point. The married folk, the parent folk, the relationship folk, they may not go out like they used to, but us single folk don’t call them to go out like we used to either.

Every year I invite my boy here in California to meet me in New Orleans to attend Essence Music Festival with me and my other boys from college. Every year he declines because it falls on a weekend he has with his daughter.

I plan on going to Essence Fest again next year. Of course, I will extend the invitation to my friend in California again, because over the years, it’s become an important way for me to spend time with my important friends (for those who think they know why, click here to kill that noise). Chances are he will decline, but still I ask. Just because he has a child and I don’t, doesn’t mean I pander to those differences by not inviting him to trips like Essence Fest. It also means, I don’t decline his invitations to things like kindergarten school concerts.

When I called my boy to tell him I landed back home and to put together some plans to kick it, going with him to his daughter’s holiday concert was hardly what I had in mind. But I’m glad he invited me and I’m glad I didn’t take it as some joke and tell him to meet up with me afterward. Seeing my friends be parents or be married is actually awesome. I may not be ready to be either of these, but I’m more than happy to be there for and spend time with my friends who are.

  • Guest

    Great post!! I recently found myself feeling this way. I’m slowly realizing, I too will have to change/grow with my friends life changes despite being single and childless.

  • AKCrrr

    Very well written post! Single people, people in relationships, and people with kids, are all still people and they can all learn something by reading this. Both sides need to try! 

  • Anonymous

    As a married woman of a little over a year, who has struggled with this despite MY best efforts to keep in touch with some of my single friends, I thank you. Unfortunately for me, I’ve found out I wasn’t as close with some folks as I thought I was.

  • ChiCityLimitz

    Great post! As a single parent this hit right on the money. It’s as if you catch some type of plague because of your inability to hang out as much as a non-attached person…those of us with responsibilities enjoy going out too, we just understand we can’t go out as much.

  • ChiCityLimitz

    Great post! As a single parent this hit right on the money. It’s as if you catch some type of plague because of your inability to hang out as much as a non-attached person…those of us with responsibilities enjoy going out too, we just understand we can’t go out as much; we haven’t turned into hermits…I applaud you for continuing to invite your friend, it shows that you are a true friend and haven’t let his life change dictate your ability to be a friend.

  • Lolliopop1

    As single person, I am inclined to hang with my single friends. But when I hang with the attached friends, all they want to do is talk about relationships or give me the “why are you singl” face. Snore. It’s a tug of war of some time.

  • Erica B

    This post is opposite of everything I experience. Of course I do appreciate this sentiment and TOTALLY feel for those who have become social pariahs once they got hitched/pregnant/etc. But let us also remember that this works very often in reverse–people get married and/or have kids, and suddenly all they want to do is judge you for not doing the same, say things like “you just can’t understand until you ____”, start hanging out only with other people in their same situation, etc. We deal with this sort of treatment too!

  • Guest

    As far as this post goes, it all depends on the priorities of the individual. Obviously your close friends are important to you just as your family is to you. Therefore, you will make the time and effort to be there for them whenever you can depending on your availability. I’m sure your friends and family will understand if you choose not to be there when you don’t want to. You are a man with your own mind just as everyone else has their own mind to decide what is important to oneself without feeling pressured by anyone or feeling obligated to do something one doesn’t want to do. However, keep in mind, those who are single are perhaps the ones who choose to be. Also, those who are single are perhaps meant to be single. I do believe not everyone in this world is meant to be attached. Thanks for this lesson today. In the meantime, continue to have the best days of your life in 2011 and the years to come with those who matter to you. 

  • guest 2

    +1. same here.  it’s been a rough road.

  • Bre

    I’ve had some parent friends not invite me to birthday parties because I don’t have kids. My own goddaughter’s mother had this mindset! Why make me a godparent if this is the case? To correct this issue, I stopped buying kids’ bday gifts and asking about the kids. Selfish? Maybe, but it finally led to an open, honest conversation with multiple friends. Now, I’m invited to birthdays, baptisms, etc. 

  • guest

    Why, when people are unmarried or childless, do people people so often jump to the conclusion that they choose to be? or that they “chose” career/travel/whateverelse over a family? People act like somebody can just will themselves into “attached” status.

  • Guest

    Age does play a factor for some-if one is still single by a certain age, whatever the desired age maybe of the individual, one just doesn’t care anymore about being attached or not. It’s not like it’s the end of the world if we’re not attached. Life does goes on with or without.

  • Step_AI

    I definitely needed to read this! I’m about to go home for Christmas and I have a best friend who’s expecting and another best friend who’s in a relationship. From phone conversations I can tell that they have both changed (not saying that’s bad, though), and I honestly started making plans with other friends I don’t normally hang out with when I go home b/c my two best friends are at different parts of their lives than I am.

  • http://www.writingwithwine.com Maiah

    This is brilliantly written. You’re always dropping some fine written word but I appreciate the thought behind this piece – relatable and a great read.

  • rnic

    “People may not say it out loud, but nothing challenges life-long friendships like children, marriage, or new relationships.”
     
    I SO needed to hear this…..all of it.  I do think it’s a two way street though.  Meaning both the single/childless friend and the married-with-children friend have to make an honest effort to understand and adapt to each other’s
    situations and how they’ve changed in order for the friendship to grow….and sometimes in order for it to even continue.  It’s hard but it’s not impossible, and it’s worth it if it’s a real friendship.  GREAT post.

  • rnic

    “People may not say it out loud, but nothing challenges life-long friendships like children, marriage, or new relationships.”
     
    I SO needed to hear this…..all of it.  I do think it’s a two way street though.  Meaning both the single/childless friend and the married-with-children friend have to make an honest effort to understand and adapt to each other’s
    situations and how they’ve changed in order for the friendship to grow….and sometimes in order for it to even continue.  It’s hard but it’s not impossible, and it’s worth it if it’s a real friendship.  GREAT post.

  • NaturallyK

    This is a good post. My husband often comments about his single friends not calling him to hang out like he used too. I encourage him to make the effort so he does sometimes. Things have changed…