Being 19 or 20 and still single is hard. The awkwardness of dating and dead end relationships is frustrating at best. That and watching your friends get married leaving you in the dust of wishes and dreams, is a cruel reality. You wish for that special someone to come along and you dream of family and dinner at the table each night. I remember those days. Then one day it happens. We find the person we dreamed of being married to, or maybe we settled for someone who had at least one of the traits we hoped to find. No matter the case our lives seemed to have been made complete according to the unwritten rules of society. Man + woman = happily ever after. Right? Away we go to every event, every family gathering with our spouse. Somehow in our wedded bliss we forget about the ones who until the day we found Prince Charming, celebrated our joys and held us in our sadness; those who believed in us when we doubted ourselves. Maybe it’s not intentional, but to the one left behind it hurts. It hurts deeply.
Off we go into our married lives. We have “couples” who we befriend whether or not all four spouses are compatible. We plan dinners and nights out with our married friends. We share the things we once enjoyed with our single friends with other couples and we develop what we believe are bonds that will last a lifetime. But then that fateful day comes, someone finds themselves in the midst of divorce and two by two we drop out of their lives because it is far less complicated than to learn and grow with them. Maybe we are afraid it is contagious. Or there is the partnership that ends because of the death of a spouse. Granted when a spouse passes, the friends stick around a bit longer. But still, eventually left behind are those who suddenly are single again. Those of us who remain married go on with our lives and that person is left alone in the dust once again to deal with their grief. We continue to plan outings that we once enjoyed with our friend, but we stop including them because they are single. We make excuses and eventually we stop communicating with them except to the extent of trying to play match maker; because if they were “coupled” we would again have something in common.
It’s awkward to be on either side of this relationship battle, I know because I have been on both sides. I have friends who are single and single again. I heard someone say last week that their wish for a mutual friend was that she would find “a man”. I cringed a bit inside because after having been “single again” for 10 years I had become quite happy with my life. It was a struggle for a long time to really learn who I was separate from my former spouse. But once I found the person inside, I realized that I didn’t need a man or woman for that matter to complete me. I desired a relationship, though, with someone who would simply embrace who I had become and would accept the love I had inside that I still desired to share with someone special. But in all of this, I wanted to remember what it felt like to be single among a marriage-minded society and I wanted to always be mindful that my single friends may be single by choice.
I’m not single anymore, but I hope that I will always care for those who are still, and those who have found their way back to single-hood whether by tragedy or choice.
Having friends over for dinner this week? Invite your single friends too.