Dear Sara: It happened: The last “single” girl in my friend group got engaged tonight. She and her fiancé had been together for more than two years and live together, so I was expecting it. The other couples in the group all got engaged within the past year (including one ex, for whom I long had unrequited feelings). But now I am truly the only single one left — and do I ever feel like I don’t fit in. I am not dating at the moment — I tried last winter, met a few duds, and decided to take a break since I wasn’t feeling open to it. I would like to be, but I’m just not. Plus, although all of these engaged girls are eager to hear my dating stories, they’ve mostly forgotten how hard it is to be “out there”–or they never really struggled with the dating scene to begin with. I am sad, and I am lonely, and I am tired of first dates. I’d love to be planning my own wedding, but that just makes me sound marriage-obsessed! — E
Dear E: I don’t think you’re marriage-obsessed. I think you’re a human being who wants to spend time with other people who understand you. So that puts you in a pool of about 99 percent of us, I’m guessing.
It’s completely normal that you would like to be in the same life situation as all your friends—planning a wedding with a nice partner. But since you’re in a different situation, I suggest you find some friends who are also single.
You don’t have to ditch your married and engaged pals, of course, but I’m guessing they don’t have the same kind of time for you that they did before, anyway. They will probably be hard to book on a Saturday night, and they likely won’t be interested in finding a place to hang out where you might possibly meet some date-worthy prospects.
So you need to find some friends whose lives more closely resemble yours. You need people who will empathize with all your complaints because they’re going through it, too. And when you find these people, then you will no longer be the “last one standing.” You won’t be labeling yourself that way anymore.
I know making new friends can be challenging when you’re an adult, but I’m wondering if focusing on finding female friends, rather than a boyfriend, might make it easier. You’d still be opening up and expanding your world — doing the things people say to do (classes, volunteer work, etc.), but I think it would be less fraught. When I was single, I remember being disappointed when I’d show up to a party or event and there wasn’t anyone in the group I was interested in dating (“What a waste!”). But then I often did make nice friends, and through them I would get invited to other things, and sometimes met guys that way.
And even when I didn’t, so what? The vast majority of men I’ve dated are long gone, but I’ve still got the friends.
Sara Eckel is a personal coach and the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Ask her questions here.