Why Single People Should Hang Out With Couples
First, a story:
I was 13-years-old, and everyone in my crew had a girlfriend. Everyone, except for yours truly. I did not notice this at first; it took me a while before I realized I was an outcast even though I was plenty welcome to hang out. My friends did not treat me differently than they had before, their girlfriends were plenty nice to me as well. The feeling, at first, was nothing more than a larger friend circle. But after awhile, even with my group’s good intentions in play, I began to feel like an outcast. Over time, that feeling carried itself from the school grounds into my house, where I came home sulking noticeably in front of my mom and Richard.
My mom pressed me to tell her what was wrong, but I knew even back then, as much as it sucked to be the only single person among my boys, it was a really silly reason to be moping around looking like Eeyore. When I finally confessed to her why I was sad, she was nice enough to let me have my moment, but also reminded me that it wasn’t important. I too would have my day with a girlfriend of my own, but my focus should be on my studies anyway. I knew what she meant, even though it didn’t ever make sense to me why I couldn’t study hard and have a girlfriend at the same time.
Then Richard came in, and he saw my face, still pouting. He looked at me and asked, “What’s wrong?”
I already had a hard enough time telling my mom, so I damn sure didn’t want to tell Richard that I was a little sad over the fact that all my boys had girlfriends and I didn’t.
He turned to my mom to ask her, “What’s wrong with him?”
Now I thought my mom had my back, and wouldn’t out me to Richard, but boy was I wrong. She probably thought I needed someone else to tell me how absurd I was being, so she snitched.
“Oh, he’s sad because he doesn’t have a girlfriend while all his friends do.”
There was an awkward silence in the room. I think Richard understood like only men could what I was feeling. It’s not so much I wanted a girlfriend as I wanted what a girlfriend represented: Approval from the opposite sex. I was young, pubescent, and I liked girls, which meant all I really wanted was for girls to like me back.
But my Pop thrived on teachable moments. He never wanted to see me fail at something, but he knew if I wasn’t successful there was an opening for him to teach me a lesson. Me tripping over the fact that I wasn’t the flavor of the month according to the girls at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School was that kind of moment.
“Boy, you actually have two girlfriends,” he said.
Confused, I looked up at him, “Huh? How?”
“Put your right hand out,” he said.
I did as instructed.
“Now keep that out and put your left hand out too,” he said.
I did as I was told to do.
“Those two hands, those are your girlfriends, and when one of them gets tired, you have the other one right here.” He then made a half circle with both hands and started moving them up and down through the air.
My mom was shocked and yelled, “RICHARD!”
“What,” Richard said. “I’m telling him the truth.”
Then he walked away, while my mom told me not to listen to him and go do my homework.
Again, I did as I was told, but Richard’s advice was still lingering in my head. I had no idea what he meant, but at 13-years-old it didn’t take me long to figure it out.
Last week, I couldn’t give this advice to Greg, a guy who was the subject of a round table discussion I took part in on HuffPost Live (watch the video at the bottom of this post). The topic was about being the only single person, and since Greg was an adult, I’m sure Greg already received the same type of advice Richard gave me. But Greg’s story was familiar to me.
There were other periods in my life after I turned 13 where I was the only single guy in the crew. Before I met Gina, most of my closest guy friends were in relationships, and though Richard’s advice still came in handy from time to time (no pun intended) of course I wanted to have someone I could call my own. Sometimes being the only one in a group who is without a significant other has made me feel single with a capital S.
I’m conscious of this of course. After all, I just got into my relationship, so I’m very familiar with the feeling of being the only one without a one.
But one thing I noticed about the conversation we were having on HuffPost Live is the tone we were taking towards the single person versus his friends who were in relationships. I came away feeling that Greg, and people like him who end up in his situation, wanted concessions to be made towards them because they were the single ones, as though it’s a handicap.
Given that I’m at a different place in my life, I will admit there may be some bias in my thinking about this, but I’m just going to come right out and say it:
Get over yourself and your status and enjoy hanging out with your friends who are in relationships just like you would if they were single.
When I was the lone single person in my crew, I actually welcomed any chance I had to hang out with my friends even if they in relationships, even if it meant they were bringing their partners. Why? Because these guys were my closest friends. Truth be told, the fact that they still wanted me to come join them was reassuring. My fear, once I saw all my friends partnering up, was they would exclude me from group activities because I had the handicap of no tag team partner.
Ever since I have been in a relationship with Gina, I have gone to great lengths to make sure my friends who are single don’t treat me like a persona non grata. Gina and I often have discussions about the importance of making sure we’re not that couple who forgets about the friends we had before we found each other.
Of course, it is a challenge.
I will be the first to admit, I love hanging out with my girlfriend. She has become my partner-in-crime and while we don’t do everything together, we do most things together, many of which I know I would be doing with my friends if I was single.
But even Gina and I don’t always want it to be just Gina and I. We want other people to join us, and believe it or not, we don’t always want the people who join us to be another couple. Between the two of usm we know a lot of great people who, for whatever reason, aren’t in a relationship. That’s fine. We don’t care and we hope they don’t care if Gina and I are going to tag along to grab a beer.
Luckily for us, most of our friends accept our invitations. So we don’t have a bunch of single people who avoid hanging out with us because it makes them feel like a third wheel (at least I hope they don’t). But those people exist, and if you just so happen to be one of them who is reading this right now, understand this:
You are single, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just because your friends have found a fulfilling relationship, doesn’t mean they now look at you as though you have three eyes. They were in the trenches with you, back in your single days, just trying to find love in these streets. They got lucky, and now they’re happy in a new way, but they remember the old way to be happy was hanging out with you.
Sometimes, they want to get some of that feeling back and they will keep their significant other at home. But many times, they want both, and why shouldn’t they? If you’re single and only want your friends to show up by themselves to make you feel better, I have news for you: You feeling some type of way over your friends who are boo’d up is your fault, not theirs. I get it, every now and then time together should be just you and your ace, and no one else, just like the old days. But those of us in relationships should not be required to always show up dolo just to suspend your disbelief for a couple of hours.
Besides, there are many benefits to having friends who are in relationships and hanging out with couples. This is all of course assuming you like their significant other. (If you don’t, well those are issues I can’t help you with.)
For one, your couple friends offer two times the number of opportunities for you to get laid or in a relationship, whichever you prefer. There is your best friend who has always looked out for you, but now that they have a person to call their own, they can focus on dishing you the rock instead of trying to score on their own. So, let them hook you up. Even if they don’t have a great track record, if you’re still single, your track record isn’t great either. Might as well give that great person they met at another party who made them think about you a shot and see what happens.
Then you have your BFF’s partner. All your friend has done is talk you up and say how great you are to their partner. Your friend tells their partner things like how it’s obvious society is getting dumber because people like you are out here single. You’ve been talked up so much, your best friend’s partner has now gone to their job and bragged about knowing you, talking about, “Oh yeah, my boyfriend’s best friend, he’s great. It makes no sense why he’s single.” Naturally, the office hottie is curious about her co-worker’s boyfriend’s best friend and next thing you know, she’s following you on Instagram and Twitter. Play your cards right and you can turn those retweets into some nice eats on the town with someone you don’t usually meet at the places you frequent with your single friends.
It’s only natural that relationships will change people, but I, for one, am doing my best to make sure my relationship hasn’t changed the type of friend I am to the people who were in my life before Gina came around. Any self-respecting person who calls themselves your friend would think similarly. So remember that, before you start treating your friends in relationships differently than your single friends, and if you’re ever feeling super single because everyone around you has someone and you don’t, remember the advice Richard gave me. It actually works pretty well.