*also applies to people in long-term, committed relationships, even if they haven’t yet put a ring on it.
I have officially reached the age and occupation (26 and teacher) where almost all of my friends are married or at least on the road to marriage.
Which, of course, means that I hate Valentine’s Day for like, the first time in my life. Normally, I can embrace this day as a day for love of all types, not just romantic, but considering that the past two years – and the past year in particular – have been such a ridiculous disappointment for my romantic life, I’m just not in the mood to feel the love Hugh Grant asserts really is, all around. Cue my very first “Bitter, Party of One?” post – I think it’s quite the achievement to have made it this far without one.
As I pointed out to my dad earlier this year, on Valentine’s Day, I can always tell the students who see through my “I totally have a billion men I hang out with on the weekend, but don’t ask me about my life because your tiny preteen brains just can’t handle the truth” cover to the fact that most of my weekends seem to center around Netflix and puppy cuddles on the couch. The kids who know the truth bring me legit gifts. Last year, this included a full-on bouquet of flowers, three long-stemmed roses (from separate chillins) and a box of chocolates. The still-fooled children laughed at the knowledgable children, because they believed my many suitors would eclipse my school day gifts and so they just brought the standard Disney-themed Valentines, which I also really appreciated. Knowledgable kids were all like “Okay, whatever, we’ll pretend to be hurt just to save your pride, Miss, but you know that I know…”
Ah, middle school. You make Valentine’s Day so much worse. In fact, I really don’t think that I can handle my small baby children and their well-meaning looks AND well-meaning adults with meaningful looks this year. I don’t care if you’re married, that doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to pity me. It makes me less than pleasant to be around, almost involuntarily. And so, I have created a few notes for people who are good enough to NOT immediately ditch their single friends the minute that dude slips a ring on their fourth finger. Or, for those who have been married forever and ever and are still willing to hang around with my crazy self.
And yes, these all stem from my personal pains and frustrations from recent years. If you happen to be one of my married/committed friends, don’t take it so personally, if I was that pissed, I would have called you on it by now.
1. Indulge our insane fantasies of marrying/shacking up with someone famous. It is imperative that we single folk have an active imaginary romantic or at least sexual future. It helps keep us sane when things aren’t going the way we’d hoped, because we can always tell ourselves that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be really amused by the time a guy ran into his former high school sweetheart and kind of forgot that we were on our third date and ditched us for half an hour before texting to find out where we “disappeared to.” Still at the table, bro. Or even simply that the Sauza tequila ad guy is totally into hosting happy hour for our coworkers while discussing leggings vs pants. Help me keep the dream alive, people.
2. Realize that to us, our three-week romances ARE important. Yeah, I get that you’ve been with your man for longer than I’ve been wearing a bra. But when we’re upset because we find out on the fourth date that a guy we really liked is a One Direction fan, sympathize with us! This potential relationship was important to us because we don’t actually have much else going on, so for the love of GOD, don’t brush it off and say that I’ll be over it soon since it wasn’t even that serious.
3. Our pets are our children. Deal with it. Don’t ever, ever tell us that they’re “just a dog.” That makes you “just an asshole” who is no longer getting invited over for happy hour, brunch, or game night. Ever.
4. Don’t When Harry Met Sally us. Sometimes a friendship is just a friendship, people. Seriously. Or at least it is until everyone around your starts saying that it seems like there’s “something more,” and then if you’re even the slightest bit open to suggestion, you start to be convinced that there actually is something going on. I know we shouldn’t start thinking it just because it’s popular opinion, but sometimes it just seeps in there after enough repetition. And guess what? This hurts the aforementioned friendship. And me, by default. So stop it.
5. Don’t ditch us to hang out with the bf/hubs when we have plans. I get wanting a quiet night at home. I do. I need those, too. But just FYI, if you ditch us at the last minute, and all our other friends are already busy, then we have to either go home to watch Netflix with our furry friends or hit up a bar solo. Either way, it’s not exactly a confidence-builder. There’s no “quiet homemade dinner with the significant other” in our multiple choice list of backup plans. So be considerate, and cancel ahead of time if you’re not feeling it.
6. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean that you’re better at dating. In fact, this may mean that you’re less than awesome at dating, or at least out of touch, depending on how long you’ve been married. I know that Marshall argues that he more game because his marriage status seems to be the winning shot…but…that’s not exactly kosher. You just make things really…awkward.
So yeah, your love advice may have been valuable about 5-25 years ago, but not so much anymore. And there’s a good chance that we single folk have more experience with different types of people. Plus, I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of science thing that makes you forget about how to romantically please everyone but your spouse once you tie the knot.
7. If we’re telling you about the end of a relationship, for God’s sake, do not insert your opinion into the convo. Oh, you knew he wasn’t right for me and you didn’t fucking tell me? Cool. Go fuck yourself then. I don’t care that I totally wouldn’t have listened to you at the time, you still should have made the effort. And if you did tell me? No one likes people who say “I told you so.” Once upon a time, I believed that it was better for people to just say nothing and change the subject…but obviously, I was wrong about that. You have to say something, folks. I’ve found that I respond best to “Do you want to talk about it?” or “You seem to be really upset about this.” Then we know you care and that you’re willing to listen, but you’re also not telling me things I don’t want or need to hear at this moment. Save the constructive criticism for when there’s actually someone I can apply it to in a future relationship. That time is not now.
8. Actually be willing to listen. See #2. Understand that if you expect us to hear you complain about how your husband continues to leave the milk on the wrong side of the fridge, then we expect you to listen to us obsess over what that touch on the elbow meant last week over coffee. Was it a flirty touch? Was it an accidental brush? Actually, was it even a touch or did a napkin just kind of float off the counter near my arm? There are so many possible angles to analyze here, guys.
9. No, we don’t want to hold your baby. If we do, we’ll ask permission and stretch like we’re preparing to run some sort of marathon. But generally? Babies are gross. Keep them to yourself.
10. Remember that our priorities are different. Your husband ranks way above your friends, as well he should as your partner for the next 75 years. But we don’t have anyone in that priority spot, so you’re higher up our ladder than we are on yours. Be cognizant of this.
11. Tell us we’re pretty. Look, bitches, you have someone who should (and hopefully does) tell you you’re pretty on a regular basis. Especially when you make an extra effort. We don’t. In fact, as a middle school teacher, I have students who ask me if a) I’m sick, b) I’m pregnant or c) I’m tired on a regular basis no matter the amount of effort I put into my appearance. So if we look good, put aside any catty or self-deprecating thoughts you may have and let us know. Preferably without qualifiers. I point this out because women can be hideous at complimenting each other – there was a year when I got more (appropriate) compliments from men at my workplace than I did from my actual friends. Rude.
12. Cut us a break. You should totally call us out on being flaky or noncommittal-y or even on slutting it up sometimes. That’s totally part of your job as our friend. But when you know that we’re having a rough time of it, whether we just broke up with someone or we’re in the middle of a long dry spell (I just call it my normal life), we’re going to need you to cut us a break sometimes.
I can’t tell you how often I remind myself , “No, you can’t talk to this friend about that, because remember what happened the last time you did?” And guys, that’s exhausting. I mean, my therapist really shouldn’t be the only person I can talk to about all of my relationship issues, but that’s where we’re at right now. So do the world of single women a favor and take it easy on us sometimes.
13. Do something special. I have some of the greatest friends in the world. Truly, I do. They’re known for coming over late at night to just talk things out with me, for distracting me with hysterically immature high jinx, for making me cry in my classroom when the flowers they sent “just because” arrive, and for planning surprises for me because I don’t have anyone else to do it. But as we get older, it slowly becomes harder to do things like that as we move away from each other – both physically and in life stages. For single ladies, nothing has changed – you may have a wonderful husband, wife, boyfriend, secret lover – what have you – to shower you with the little things, but for us, the little things still only come from you. So please, if you still have the time and energy, spend it on us.
14. Don’t expect us to love your SO as much as you do. Otherwise, we’d be fighting you for them. This one’s hard to point out for me, actually, because my typical MO is to become bros with my friends’ significant others. Like, if my married friends got divorced, I would actually bust my ass to find a way to stay friends with both of them…because if I had to choose, well, there’s a slim chance – but still a chance – that I wouldn’t pick my girls.
I don’t actually have a handshake with any of my friends’ husbands…I should work on that. But the point here is that not everyone gets along with everyone else like gangbusters, there are too many different types of people in this world for that mess. If we happen to be new bests – awesome – but it’s a bonus, not part of the relationship package deal. As long as your sweetie and I don’t actively hate each other, don’t pressure us or cut me out of your lives.
To wrap up this whole shebang, I have to say once more that I really do adore my married/committed friends. And I realize that if they’ve failed to follow any of these guidelines in the past, it was (usually) only with the best of intentions. But it’s almost Valentine’s Day, and so I’m allowed to be a little bitter about my single status, because according to someecards, I’ve got…like…one reason to be happy about being single on V-Day, and I’m just not so sure how I feel about said reason.