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LEFT BEHIND

Being the only single one in your group of friends sucks
By Adam Segal

 

I feel like I’m being left behind. Most of my friends, straight and queer alike, have settled into relationships and bought houses, and many are starting to have kids as well. There was a time where every weekend I just knew that I would see my circle of friends—brunches out, drinks at night, dancing. Now making plans is brutal: essentially we have to book for six Sundays from now, and often plans get cancelled anyway. I feel lonely and kind of like a loser. I’m 34 years old, and the longest relationship I’ve had lasted eight months and I haven’t met someone special in a long time. I’m starting to wonder what qualities my friends have that I don’t, and worry that all those big life moments will never happen for me. I also partly feel glad that I’m still free to live my life as I please, but then I wonder if I’m just scared to grow up. How do I cope with being in such a different universe from all of my closest friends without losing all my self-esteem or resenting them? —Shayne

 

Dear Shayne:

 

It’s hard not to buckle under the immense social pressure to fulfill the myriad goals we are told represent successful adulthood: long-term relationships, mortgages, car payments and overpriced living room furniture sets. The truth is that there are plenty of other 34-year-olds who haven’t checked these items off their life list yet (and may never want to), and there’s no shame in being exactly where you are. It’s going to be important to try to tease apart how much of you actually longs to have a committed relationship, and how much of you simply wants to keep up with your friends to prove to yourself that you aren’t failing at some fixed notion of being a grown-up. If you do, in fact, want to seek out an LTR, it’s more likely to happen if you see dating as a way of truly connecting with new people and not as an anxious rush to keep up with your friends.

 

There’s no doubt that you are at a sort of crossroads where a lot of us can find ourselves: seeing the landscape of your social life dramatically change as your peeps fragment off into their more insular worlds. You truly have experienced a loss that can be hard to reconcile—those years of easy and consistent time with your chosen family were really special. In no way do you need to toss these meaningful friendships aside, but you are likely going to have to diversify and intentionally seek out some new social connections.

 

When all of your friends seem to be on the exact same path, it can be easy to think you are the last single person on earth. In reality, there are lots of folks (single or not) who are still enjoying elaborate kid-less brunches, and it will be your job to find some of them. When you widen your circle, you’ll feel less deprived and be less disappointed in your old pals.

 

Besides, the day after a late night out when you’re in a semi-coma state, it could be nice to drop by one of your friends’ homes, eat a home-cooked meal and watch Netflix with their kids.

 

ADAM SEGAL, writer and therapist, works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental-health questions at @relationship@inmagazine.ca.

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