Three, it’s a tragic number

It’s annoying how friendships get exponentially harder the older you get.  When you’re a kid and you want to round to play at your friend’s house tomorrow after school, even if that friend’s house is a good drive away, it can be sorted.  Mums can fix that sort of thing, no problem.

When you get older, even a fair distance into your twenties, you can easily enough arrange to go for a few beers pretty impulsively, on a whim.

Past that point, when relationships get more secure, when weddings start happening, when the iron grip of partners and employment rule ever more firm, then it gets harder.  Arranging to meet up with a mate can mean planning two months in advance.

Two fucking months?!  I think, acting cool and reasonable.  Yeah, I have, like, other things going on between too so that’s.. uhm.  Yeah, that’s fine.

(I’ll give you “around the middle of November,” you look-how-busy-and-important-I-am PRICK!  All I wanted was a bloody drink).

Nah mate.  Yeah, that’s cool.  Look forward to it.

It’s increasingly standard though.  I’ve always counted myself as a time-rich person, never having had any huge commitments or time-demands, and being lazy.  Time is something I’ve simply always had enough of.  Way more than enough of.  Alright, frankly, far too much of.

Being self-employed, like doing a fairly simple English Literature degree, if you’re organised to a decent level, it’s not all that difficult.  Just get done what you need to get done.  There might be heavier pressures now and again, but you can usually wing it ok and get away without putting yourself under any undue stress.

Because when you do challenge yourself and put yourself under undue stress, the net result isn’t usually worth it anyway.  Best case: a person of supposed authority pats you on the back.  You are recognised.


Three is a tragic number

Added to this is frustration at the awkward social dynamic of ‘three’ – the tragic number.

It’s much harder for a single person to be good friends with a couple, than it is for a couple to be good friends with a couple.  The single person will, by definition, forever be the other.  You’ll possibly also project your own notions of being pitied if they do deign to spend time with you as a pair, but more often they don’t go out of their way because they have everything they need.  So the onus falls on you, particularly when you’re bored and navelgazy and think you should make some effort to stoke the friendship fire.

When you get round to meeting there’s the common assumption that you always want ‘boys time’ to talk about ‘boys things.’  Sure, he was my friend first but I like you well enough too.  You’ve been together a good number of years, you’re smart and good conversation, we get on ok.  Can’t we just all be friends?  Or do you think I’m a nob?

It leads on to the assumption that you’ll always want to go to the pub and drink beer with your male friend.  Any other activity or pastime is eschewed with a single person, whereas couples can meet up with other couples and actually do things outside of going to the pub.  You’ll see pictures online of a jolly looking day out at the beach.  Single people aren’t usually invited to these things because, well, it’s a bit awkward.

*Big maudlin, self-regarding SIGH..


2 Responses to Three, it’s a tragic number

  1. annajskye says:

    I totally and utterly get where you are coming from………we are told that single women shouldn’t be afraid of going into places on our own but it is still never easy unless you welcome all the stares you get walking into a pub/restaurant/cinema or other similar place alone.

    I didn’t move to the town where I live until my eldest son was at school. All the friends I made were through being a mother, they had already got their circle of social friends (other couples) old school friends/neighbours they had grown up with and then adding partners. My husband was not sociable (even though he spent all his free time in the pub) so I couldn’t easily break into these circles of couples/families. Even now when my children are growing up I find it difficult to make social dates with friends without booking well in advance.

    I have male friends who I can’t go out with socially because either their wives object or it is seen as a date when we are just friends.

    Although I am enjoying being single it is difficult being single and having a social life.

    • swashbuckled says:

      I actually think it’s much harder for women. Whereas guys can go into a pub alone and watch a football match – look broody and lonely, it’s not quite so common or as accepted for women to do something similar. And they’re probably right to feel more vulnerable if they do.

      It must be hard to socially break into a group of parents if the majority are couples too. Perhaps, if not thrown together by circumstance or a shared goal, friendships are commonly borne of a mutual loneliness or absence. When that isn’t there – when couples are utterly happy with their network, and attempts at brokering a connection are one-way, it feels impossible.

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