When our closest friends enters into new relationships, the relationships we have with our friends also change, no matter how much we try to resist it. There are things we can do to help us navigate our way through the evolution of our friendships. Here are five things single people can do when our friends are getting into new relationships.
1. Recognize that changes to your friendship may be inevitable
When our friends enter into new relationships, they may disappear for weeks on end while in the throes of new romance, making us wonder if they’ve been lost in the Bermuda Triangle of love. Or, when we do see them, they talk incessantly about their new loves, leaving little room to mutually share and discuss the other beautiful intricacies of life. The one-on-one time spent with friends all of a sudden becomes three’s company, where we feel like the third wheel or the odd man out.
These situations may lead to exasperation, as we wonder when our newly coupled friends will return to their normal selves. Yet, in many ways, it is normal for those in new relationships to change as they navigate through confused feelings of love, vulnerability, and obsession. Therefore, we must remember to be kind, compassionate, and patient with our friends who are in new relationships, trusting that our friendships will bounce back in due time.
2. Know when to be Switzerland—don’t get stuck in the middle of your friends’ relationships
How many of us have been in this situation: We are hanging out with our friend and her significant other. Everything is seems to be going well until the couple begin to engage in a harmless disagreement that quickly turns into World War III. Both are in the wrong, yet look to you to be the therapist, arbiter, and judge. If you side with one over the other, you risk losing impartiality and potentially trust.
There are other situations that can lead to you getting stuck in the middle of a friend’s relationship. How often has a friend asked for your opinion about a significant other, only to have that opinion negatively affect your friend’s relationship, resulting in you being in the center of rifts that occur within the relationship? There may be times when we are called to become involved in our friends’ relationships, but we should also recognize when being neutral preserves our friendships and sanity.
3. Expand your friendship circle, hobbies, and interests
When your closest friend adds a plus-one to her life, you may find yourself going to happy hours, movies, and other social gatherings alone. Or, you realize that once-spontaneous hangouts give way to planned lunches and coffee dates. In those moments, you miss the Butch to your Sundance Kid, the Thelma to your Louise, the Bert to your Ernie. Yet, these moments also reveal the significance of finding and cultivating new friendships with those who share your interests and values.
Discovering new hobbies can help us to uncover new experiences and people who can broaden our horizons, lessening the impact of a friend’s new relationship on our lives. This is not to say that we should discard our coupled-up friends in exchange for single ones, just that we should strive to continuously expand our circle of friends, interests, and hobbies.
4. Honor your single status
As our friends find love in new relationships, we may suffer from the grass-is-greener syndrome, where we vie to find a relationship of our own and forget the benefits of being single. Single status means more than not having to share a bed, compromise with someone else’s desires, or be involved with just one person. It also offers us opportunities to reflect on and explore who we are, in very authentic ways.
That is not to say that self-exploration does not happen within the context of a relationship. Being single allows that journey to occur on our own terms and conditions.Yes, being “the single one” amongst newly coupled friends can sometimes be lonely, but it is important to honor your single status to take advantage of opportunities that allow for your own personal growth.
5. Don’t be afraid to engage your friends in honest conversations
Having honest conversations with others is one of the most difficult things to do because we allow ourselves to become vulnerable. However, keeping our feelings bottled up can damage our ability to be authentic with ourselves and others. When a friend enters a new relationship, you may feel out of place for sharing anything but feelings of joy and happiness, even if you also feel a sense of loss or abandonment.
Unexpressed, this may cause you to shut down rather than speak your truth, harming the friendship. Don’t be afraid to have honest conversations with your friends, because what you risk losing is too great.