No one likes being the odd man out. Whether you’re the only one of your friends still living with their parents, the only one who has yet to find a job after college, or the only one who’s single, it can make you feel alienating when there’s something glaringly different about your lifestyle. This is equally true when you’re the only one who’s in a relationship. Why is it so awkward to be the one coupled-up person in your squad? Experts say there is a multitude of reasons why these circumstances can prove challenging.
According to Pricilla Martinez, CEO of Regroop Online Life Coaching, your social life is likely somewhat different than that of your single friends’, and that can contribute to the awkwardness.
“When everyone is single, there is a lot more room for spontaneous activities,” she explains. “It can be awkward if you’re the only one that wants to check in with someone while you’re out. Maybe you need to have a conversation with your significant other before you even commit to plans with your friends. The most awkward, and perhaps painful, is when your friends start to leave you out of things because they assume you either aren’t interested or can’t make it because you have a partner.”
That’s not all, either. Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, points out that when you do make time to chill with your friends, their goals for the night may look very different from yours. While you’re content to just casually catch up, they may be on the prowl for “The One,” — or, you know, the one for tonight, anyway.
“Let’s face it — when you set up girls’ night and they’re just chatting people up, you feel like a third wheel,” she adds. “You want to go home with your SO early and cuddle up on the couch, and they want to dance on the table. It can make you feel boring.”
Even your conversations can start to feel disjointed. After all, while your besties are all swapping hilarious dating disaster tales, you’re sure to feel a tad left out. And you may feel hesitant to share all the deets about your recent romantic getaway if you know that some of your friends are a little sensitive about their single status.
“It can feel like you have nothing to talk about or nothing currently in common,” says Trombetti. “They are smarting over their last swipe which didn’t turn out well, and to them, it doesn’t seem like you can relate right now (even though you been there, done that).”
One of the best things about friendships is when you feel like you can hash out your problems honestly and openly with each other. Unfortunately, Trombetti notes that when you’re the only one in a relationship, your problems are going to look very different from your friends’. Not to mention, if any of them are bitter about being single, they may struggle having sympathy for you given that you have what they want (a partner). And if they’re asking for advice pertaining to singledom, you may not know what to say given that you’ve been in a long-term relationship (and perhaps the dating landscape has changed since you’ve been out there).
One thing that can help to quell some awkwardness, according to Martinez, is making sure you’re finding balance — and tending to your relationship and your friendships separately.
“It can be difficult to navigate when it’s an appropriate time to bring your SO to gatherings,” she explains. “Giving your friends enough face time is a delicate balance of group and individual outings to make sure everyone feels they are getting enough quality time. Ideally, both your friends and partner understand that you need to make time for each, and don’t give you a hard time, but you can have instances where they are jealous of one another.”
Martinez recommends allowing your squad to have some bonding time with your SO to minimize any potential tension — plus, it will make it more acceptable for bae to be at social gatherings because they’ll have their own relationship with your friends. That doesn’t mean you should include them in everything, however, as doing so may inspire some resentment among your friends, who likely want some solo time with you. Martinez advises checking with your friends first just to make sure they’re cool with your bringing your boo to a particular gathering.
But what if things still feel awk? Martinez suggests bringing it up with your besties.
“If you’re uncomfortable about how they’re handling your relationship, be upfront about it,” she says. “They’re obviously uncomfortable too and probably need your guidance on how to navigate it, especially if you’re the first of them in a relationship in a while. Maybe you can’t go party every weekend or take random trips anymore, and that’s okay. Remember, if they are really your friends, they want to see you happy and being upfront about how you’re feeling won’t change that.”
Arguably, the main challenge around being the only coupled-up person in your group is being able to relate to your friends. Regardless of the fact that you may have a different relationship status, you can still find ways to relate (you were single once too, right?). As long as you’re making an effort to give your friends plenty of quality time, giving them a chance to get to know your boo, and coming to grips with the fact that your social lives are somewhat different, the awkwardness will roll right off your back. Besides, having some variety in terms of life experience within your friend group can ultimately prove beneficial. When your single friends start to explore new relationships, you’ll have a wealth of wisdom at your fingertips to share — and trust me, they’ll be super grateful for that sage advice.
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