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When all your friends have partners

Date
Third wheel ... single people can feel marginalised when out with couples.

Third wheel ... single people can feel marginalised when out with couples.

Going out with a group of friends is always fun, but when some of its members suddenly find partners it changes the dynamic of the clique.

It's an especially different experience for the members of the group who are still single because it can make them feel marginalised. And it only makes matters worse when you have to listen to your best friend constantly talking about her new boyfriend.

The clique's members who are still single shouldn't doubt themselves and instead should expand their circle of friends, relationship experts say.

"You have this stupid feeling as a single person as if you are left over - almost like when you are the only person sitting alone at a dance," said Beate Friese of a hotline for children and young people in Germany.

Thoughts such as, "There must be something wrong with me" or "I'm not as pretty as the other girls" are no help. "Instead, you have to understand that you don't always instantaneously find a partner who is a good match for you right away," said Friese.

Withdrawing and staying home alone to brood is also not a solution.

"One possibility would be not to meet with couples every time you go out, but to invite one or more other single person along," said psychologist Elisabeth Raffauf. "Aside from that it can help to consider where the gathering is taking place."

The support of other singles can be an advantage, family counsellor Maria El-Safti-Juette said. "If you are out with a couple alone, you can quickly feel like you are facing a unified force." The two agree on everything and talk about their common interests. "With another person on your side, you won't feel like such an outsider, especially when the couple is very involved with each other."

You can consider whether you would like to meet other people, said El-Safti-Juette. Possibly, there are other friends with whom you haven't met in a while or done little with.

"You don't have to end close friendships just because the friend now has a partner," said El-Safti-Juette. "But it can be fun now and again to go out with friends that also are single." At least this presents a better opportunity to look around for guys or girls or to do something completely different.

As far as your approach to the people in the clique, it's perfectly acceptable to let them know how you feel. "It's not an easy subject. That's why it's probably easier to tell just one person rather than the entire group," said Friese. Trying to forbid the cuddling, however, is difficult.

"You can't require them to stop," said Friese. "After all you would be doing the same thing if you could." It's more helpful to say something like "It's nothing personal against either you, but the situation isn't easy for me. You can surely understand that. That's why I would like to withdraw a little bit from the group."

At the same time you can stress how important the others are to you.

"When your best friend doesn't have time to spend with you alone and instead always shows up with his girlfriend, it's alright to say something about it," said El-Safti-Juette.

But it's better to be diplomatic using words that don't attack the girlfriend. For example, a statement such as "I'm happy for you that you have someone who means so much to you, but honestly speaking, I miss you and I would like to have you again alone just for myself."

An especially difficult situation arises within a clique when one of the members finds that not only is everyone else suddenly paired up, but he or she is the only one who has never been in a relationship.

"You shouldn't put pressure on yourself," said Raffauf. "There is no rule that says from a particular age you must have a girlfriend or boyfriend."

DPA

25 comments

  • Oh yeah it's always a bit tricky when your friends all start coupling up. You do end up feeling a bit left out and basically have to find new single friends. I still stay in contact though and I'm pretty lucky as most of my GF's all still make the effort to catch up whether they have a BF or not. I'm always happy for them but a little envious too. Human nature I guess.

    Commenter
    She-Raz
    Date and time
    April 23, 2012, 4:43PM
    • Don't worry it goes both ways, being married all of a sudden and then having Children, we sometimes envy our single friends ;)

      Commenter
      Cherry
      Date and time
      April 24, 2012, 8:48AM
  • I hate couples. So smug and righteous. It is not really about making new friends. The first thing you have to do is find a new social scene that suits you and then hopefully there will be potential friends within that. Hard work as you get older.

    Commenter
    Gman
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    April 23, 2012, 5:42PM
    • where do 26 year old single girls go by themselves to find a partner? Very hard to do and thats why they keep going out with their partnered up friends feeling a bit left out

      Commenter
      victoria
      Date and time
      April 23, 2012, 5:52PM
      • Agreed. I have only one single gf left who will go out. The rest of the time it's smug couples canoodling in corners or hosting dinner parties. I give up.

        Commenter
        BekW
        Date and time
        April 24, 2012, 10:20AM
    • I'm happy for my friends who meet someone they like but i do also get envious and agree... why not me?

      I understand the coupled up friends won't be going out as much as they use to. However, if they completely drop off the planet until they start having issues... then these days my thoughts are their probably not worth my friendship. (i know... a bit harsh)

      Commenter
      Miss London
      Date and time
      April 23, 2012, 9:02PM
      • I've found that that as a single woman by choice, some women in relationships see me as a threat. In some cases I've been friends with both partners or in one case, introduced them.

        First they try setting you up, when you gently manage to get away - from their cousin Barry who wants 5 kids by 30 and loves Nickelback - you become object of pity, excluded from events or in a couple of cases I was accused of making a play for their man.

        I've known other singles who have gone though this too - only to do the same when they "catch" someone. It's a really sad thing to experience, the first time I had no idea why my friend was suddenly a stranger.

        I've learned that the best way to deal, is often to bow out once a friend is in a serious relationship - I'll keep in touch and catch up for coffee every now and then, but that's it. As for any guy friends, the friendship is generally a write off. Very few friendships are strong enough to survive one friend being single and the other in a couple, long term.

        I wish women could grow up, be less insecure. Just because I don't want a long term relationship doesn't mean I want to take or destroy the happiness of others - I want my friends to be happy.

        Try to keep in touch but it's definitely time to go out and make some new friends too.

        Commenter
        Sousy
        Date and time
        April 23, 2012, 9:51PM
        • The feeling of isolation is amplified when you find yourself single following a marriage breakdown and the only friends you have are all married couples. Suddenly having them over for dinner becomes very awkward with the change in dynamic.

          Commenter
          gidget
          Location
          Melbourne
          Date and time
          April 24, 2012, 8:45AM
          • Ah, Come on now, couples can be great friends. Sometimes if your mate gets into a long term relationship then in the end you get a new friend too (even if it does take a while).

            Just avoid hanging out with them for the first 6 months or so when they are all over each other, but put in the ground work to make friends with the new partner.

            If it lasts, you'll have two friends instead of one, and they will stop being so couply after a while.

            Commenter
            Bandom Rill
            Date and time
            April 24, 2012, 9:07AM
            • I agree Bandom Rill.

              I am single in my late 30's and my friends are all married with children. Their husbands have all become my friends and I love hanging out with them and their families.

              Sure sometimes it is a little lonely being the only "singleton" but I am single by choice so I don't feel any inferiority to my coupled up friends and my friends being good friends certainly don't make me so!!

              Commenter
              Hello
              Location
              Sydney
              Date and time
              April 24, 2012, 9:25AM

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