The man standing in front of you isn’t half-bad, you think to yourself – until your friends start talking about how dating older men is for the birds, that is. Even though there’s no ill will or malice on their part – they’re your loyal gal pals, after all – your friends may be subtly sabotaging your chances at finding a compatible partner more than you think. Read on for the various ways your friends may be keeping you single, and learn how to prevent them from becoming accidental frenemies in your quest for love.
You Adopt Their Negative Beliefs
Worry is contagious, and hanging out with friends who’ve become disillusioned with love and dating can leave you feeling the same way without making the connection as to why. According to the New York Times article How much Girl Talk is too much?, excessive commiserating (or as researchers call it, “co-rumination”) among girlfriends can cause increased anxiety and hopelessness about the future. Of course, it does little to improve your single status either, whereas actively dating does.
What you can do: Change the subject. By switching gears, hopefully you can prevent the conversation from becoming a “there are no good men out there” free-for-all. If your friends insist on talking about how true love only exists in movies, sympathize but don’t empathize with what they say. You can still be there for them without taking on their problems and beliefs as your own.
Their Jealousy Affects You
Do you have a friend who always comments on how lucky you are or how everything always comes so easy for you, implying that she somehow got the short end of the stick? If the green-eyed monster consistently rears its ugly head in your direction, and you feel the need to downplay your strengths or overall awesomeness around her, you may want to address the situation.
What you can do: Understand that while jealousy affects us all, it doesn’t give anyone the right to try and make you feel bad about yourself. Often, the mere act of bringing it to her attention by asking, “What do you mean?” or “Why do you say that?” makes it less likely she’ll do it again.
You Judge Men by Their Standards
You want someone who’s special to you – not to Jessica. She probably sizes up men according to what she wants and needs in a partner, not what would complement you. So, don’t dismiss that guy she found “quiet” and “boring” at the party on her opinion alone; he may be the perfect balance for your outgoing personality.
What you can do: Stay true to what you find attractive. If you’re into someone and your friends give him a less-than-stellar review, just laugh and say, “Really? How funny; I really like that about him.”
You’re Changing, and They Want You to Stay the Same
Maybe you’re caught in a dating flurry, and your friends makes little comments about never seeing you anymore. Or they’re used to being the center of attention, and your new-and-improved flirting skills don’t exactly fit into that scenario. When you challenge the role you’ve traditionally played in a friendship, your friends can find that disconcerting and try to put you back from whence you came.
What you can do: Keep making positive changes on the dating and flirting front. Though they may take a little time to adapt, true friends eventually will.
They Compete With You
Maybe you have that one friend where if you meet a doctor, she’s on the hunt for a surgeon. Or if you had a promising date last week, she just so happened to go on three. Feeling like you’re in a constant race to the finish line of everlasting love is not only unproductive and exhausting, it can keep you focused on “winning” instead of having fun and meeting new people. Which, ironically, is the best way to up the chances you’ll meet someone you really like.
What you can do: Understand that a friend’s need to compete has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with what’s lacking in her life. Instead of the usual back-and-forth you/me/you/me pattern of talking, let the focus be just on her sometimes. You can also refuse to compete altogether by saying, “That’s great! I’m so happy for you!” and leaving it at that.
We’re not advocating that you stage a friend breakup the second you see one of these behaviors. But if one friend in particular consistently brings you down, you may want to consider taking a mini hiatus from her and seeing how you feel. As for the rest of your crew, the more you focus on yourself and doing your own thing, the less impact their behavior will have on you. Because, ultimately, your friends only have as much power to “keep you single” as you give them.