Please Stop Thinking of Your Friends as Coupled or Single
A few weeks ago, my therapist said something that resonated with me. I was telling her that the guy I was dating decided he didn’t want to date me anymore, and I was worried my married friends would judge me for not being able to land a relationship. That’s when my therapist said, “Katie, you’ve got to stop categorizing everyone as single or coupled.” Immediately speechless, I realized that I did label everyone, from my childhood friends to the random guy I talked to at a book signing, as single or in a relationship. When I meet somebody new, be it a man or woman, I look to see if they have a wedding ring, and I think of them differently if they do. I’m the one who is doing the judging—often with people I don’t know, based on their relationship status. How horribly unhealthy, right? Since that session, I’ve made a conscious effort to change my thinking. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.
A person’s relationship status does not define their personality. Having a boyfriend (or lack thereof) does not make a woman like to shop at Zara or want to eat oysters or love reading mysteries. Likes, desires, and opinions have nothing to do with a relationship status. I’m single, and I’ve been assuming that married people wouldn’t want to hang out with me because we are too different. This line of thinking is ridiculous and limiting. I’m seeing people as people, not as single or coupled.
A guy in a relationship is not better than a guy who is single, and vice versa. Although society may make it seem like being married is better than being single, these are just norms that we have been socialized to believe. But if you think about it, having a significant other does not mean you are a better human being, it simply means you are in a relationship.
For a long time, I mistakenly thought that my friends in relationships were happier than I was. Then one friend told me in confidence that she and her husband had stopped having sex. How were they ever going to have children—something I knew she wanted—if they never had sex? Suddenly, I realized that coupled people have their own problems, and to be honest, I was relieved I didn’t share hers. It’s a good idea to remind yourself every now and then that the grass is not always greener. Life is a battle, and we all have struggles, whether there’s a ring around our fingers or not. Being in a relationship isn’t the secret to happiness.
With so much of our lives reflected through the rosy colored lens of social media, it’s easy to think that your acquaintance, whose engagement, bridal shower, and wedding was stylishly documented on Instagram, has the perfect life. But you might be surprised to find out later that she had been cheating on her fiancé. A lot goes on behind closed doors, and as an outsider, you never really know how “perfect” it all really is. A relationship status does not make someone’s life perfect because no one has a perfect life. It just doesn’t exist.
Being single and hanging out with a couple does not make you a third wheel. Think of it this way: You are friends with a man and a woman, and they happen to be in a relationship together. While I’m friendly with the majority of my close friends' husbands, only a few of them do I consider my friends as well. That’s because I hang out with these couples a lot, but I don’t think of myself as a third wheel. I simply see us as three people who are all good friends.
Shop books on the topic of single versus coupled below.
Opening photo: Jenna Alcala
What is your relationship status? Does it define you?