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How to get by as the friend that is always single

A little advice on top tips when you're the last single one in your friendship group.

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Unfortunately folks, that friend would be me.

This doesn’t mean that I am unable to be in a relationship by the way (single men, reveal yourself), and nor does it mean I am somehow sexually inept. So you can rid yourself of the mental image of me strolling around London in a larger-than-life, ironclad chastity belt with a gigantic padlock right this very second.

In fact, for some, being constantly single could mean you’d be the sexual equivalent of a horny gerbil that will hump anything in sight. Alas, this is not me.

So, before I delve a bit deeper, let’s confirm a few things: I live a life with no chastity belts, but also no compulsive humping. Basically more like somewhere loosely between the two.

I have technically been single since I was maybe fifteen, and just to be clear, when I say technically here, I am excluding the many flamboyant flings I have had since that time as they tended to eschew actual commitment. It actually pains me a lot to have to say the aforementioned statement, as it means I have been single for twelve years. TWELVE YEARS. Possibly one of the biggest turn offs in the history of turn offs. That kind of number used to make me feel physically a bit sick, it used to make me worry that something was wrong with me (still does a little, if I’m completely honest), and it used to make me hate myself (sorry for the dark turn there, but it’s true and I’m not one for sugarcoating.)

But luckily I’m here to tell you that being single is not a bad thing. Especially in your late teens and early twenties. If age has taught me anything (at the wise old age of twenty seven), it’s that being alone, whilst often scary at times, has fundamentally shaped who I am today. I say alone rather than single here because, whilst the two are very different, they are also aligned.

I should also let you know that this article isn’t going to shame people in couples, it’s more of a guideline on how to get by when you’re the consistently single one in a group – something I’ve had to contend with for a long time. It doesn’t hate on people just because they are fortunate enough to have met someone they like. Will it make sweeping generalisations about couples though? Probably. But it will likely make sweeping generalisations about single people too. That’s what I call equality, folks.

So, to the question at hand: as the consistently single friend in your friendship group, how do you get by?

The short answer is, you live with it.

*cue the song All By Myself by Celine Dion, which will perpetually remind me of the opening credits to Bridget Jones’ Diary.

However I understand how deeply dissatisfying that is to hear, so I’ll also give you the long answer too.

Stop comparing yourself to others

Firstly, there’s really no point in worrying, which I admit is so much easier said than done, but comparing yourself to your friends and their relationships is never going to make you feel better. Why? Because the old green jealousy monster will creep in, followed closely by self-depricating thoughts. I would be a liar if I said these thoughts hadn’t plagued my own mind – the old familiar, why can all my friends find someone and not me, there must be something wrong with me, maybe I don’t look right, maybe I’m giving off the wrong signals – it all comes down to the same idea. Why not me? But worrying about why someone hasn’t ‘chosen’ you to be with, is making the opportunity to be with you someone else’s decision. This is BAD. Placing your value and worth in someone else’s hands is never a good idea.

Become an advocate for timing

The second question that often surfaces if you’ve got over the why not me part, is why not now? It is similar to the above, although mainly focuses on time – maybe like me, friends of yours are moving in together or getting engaged and married. These are the times when I think to myself, when am I ever going to meet someone? Why can’t I meet them now and get it over with? Well my friends, sadly impatience is not a virtue and we don’t have the ability to control when we are going to meet someone. What we can control is what we do in our day to day lives, which in turn will probably lead you to meeting people to potentially date without even realising it. Second to this, becoming someone who believes in timing will make you feel less like a freak in a group of non-freaks. Why? Because timing is everything. If it weren’t for timing, you may have been in a relationship for ten years and counting, you will simply never know.

Learn to accept that some people will never shut up about their partner

Thirdly, does it sometimes feel like you’re at a party (although not since the beginning of the year thanks to the ol’ coronavirus) and when you ask the person how they are, all you can think whilst they reply is please stop saying ‘my partner and I…’ like you’ve physically bought them and they’re now something you own. Just me? Okay then. But you get my gist, because when you’re the single one in the group, sometimes couples (sweeping generalisation alert) can’t help but flaunt their happiness and love. They don’t even have to be together to do it, thanks to the name drop scenarios of the aforementioned, ‘my partner and I/me and my partner’. More often that not, this is not intentional, it’s simply a by-product of relationship glee, and my personal experiences are pretty few and far between. Sadly, us singletons just have to learn to accept that there will be the odd occasion where you may want to punch one of these ‘name droppers’ in the face. And that’s OK, so long as it remains a thought and isn’t taken into action.

Embrace your single life like it’s one gigantic, never-ending cupcake

Most of this article has focused on the hardships of single life amongst a sea of ‘smug marrieds’ (as our friend Bridget would say), but in truth, I have actually really enjoyed being single for such a large span of my young life. Not necessarily for the freedom to be able to shag whoever I want, whenever I want – although often this is something easier said than done. It’s more about being able to have the time to learn who you are, what you like, what you want on your own, before applying that to a relationship. What is it they say, how can you expect someone to love you, if you don’t love yourself first? Not sure who ‘they’ were, but ‘they’ couldn’t be more right. So go out there my single friends and do a bit of soul searching, find out what you dislike so that you know what you like, take yourself on a walk or to somewhere new with your favourite book, take up painting (even if it’s only by numbers), write poems like they’re going out of style. Whatever it is, you’ve got the time to actually commit to it. And if that thing you like is copious amounts of sex, then run like the wind to find a potential partner. Just make sure they’ve doused themselves in hand sanitiser first and that all safety precautions (sexual and COVID-19 related) are in place.

P.S. For any single men reading this, you can find me on Bumble, Hinge, Raya, Tinder, Instagram, The Inner Circle, or Badoo.

P.P.S, The above is a joke, for anyone lacking a sense of humour, but if you want to slide into my Instagram DM’s, feel free.

Emily King is a writer and founder of online female-led magazine The C Word Mag. She is based in London and her online magazine celebrates women and female expression in all forms by publishing content from women of all ages and all backgrounds to help elevate female voices. You can sign up to The C Word Mag’s monthly newsletter (featuring interviews from some incredible female entrepreneurs) via the website.

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