Tips For Navigating Your Friend Group When You're The Only Single One

When your best friend gets into a relationship for the first time, it's normal to struggle with your new label as a third wheel. All of a sudden, going to the movies or hanging out at the beach has a different dynamic. By the time another friend starts coupling off, your status as the fifth wheel can seem laughable. However, once you realize that everyone in your friend group is in a healthy long-term relationship, it can start to take an emotional toll.

While there is nothing wrong with being single or taking time for yourself before sharing your life with a partner, it can get lonely when hanging out with your friends is a constant reminder of what you don't have.

At first, you might try to go with the flow or not think about group hangouts as a "couples event." However, the more solidified your friends become in their relationships, the harder it can be to not feel different. Instead of doubting your personal choices or skipping outings with your friends, there are certain intentional steps you can take to help you navigate this season of life.

Remember why you are single

There may be many reasons you're still single despite everyone around you coupling off. Perhaps you don't have the time or energy to invest in a partner. Maybe, you want more time to learn about yourself and grow independently. There's also a chance you've been putting yourself out there and simply had bad luck. Finding the right person isn't always easy. However, knowing what you want or need out of a relationship can make it even harder because you don't want to settle.

Choosing to be patient is admirable but it may require some internal pep talks at times. When you're the only single person in your friend group, you'll inevitably stand out or feel different. This can create a lot of self-doubts and even cause you to question your self-worth. It's important to remember why this is the right choice for you currently.

Learning how to recognize the signs that you should be single right now will help you change your mindset. When you start viewing your singleness as an intentional decision, it can be easier to hold onto those reasons, especially when your social circle takes a toll on you. Knowing that there is nothing wrong with you and that you have the power to change your circumstances when you are ready is essential.

Just because this is the right choice doesn't mean it will be easy

It's completely normal to feel sad about the memories or experiences you're missing out on because you're in your single season. Recognizing that two things can be true at once will help you navigate the more difficult times. You may be happy and content living in your wellness era but no amount of hot yoga, therapy sessions, or even self-help books that won't make you roll your eyes can mimic the feeling of romance you'd get from a date night with a partner. It's okay to feel all of those emotions and then let them pass.

Happiness can be a choice and whether or not you particularly enjoy being single, consistently choosing gratitude and appreciating the benefits that come from not being with a partner yet will do wonders for your mindset. Of course, this isn't always easy and will require discipline and practice.

Psychotherapist Megan Bruneau explained to MindBodyGreen that being single is actually a gift because all of your extra time can be dedicated to yourself instead of someone else. This allows individuals to connect with who they are on a deeper level. Embracing the opportunity to turn inward will help you rely on your own intuition. This not only builds trust and confidence, but it's much easier to love someone else when you know how to love yourself.

Don't compare your love life to your friends'

Feeling behind in life is one of the most universal emotions. Starting in childhood, there are curated milestones that are perfectly laid out for you to reach by a certain age. Interestingly, after college, these milestones start looking a little blurry. The tasks of dating, marriage, buying a house, and having kids all get mixed up. There is no perfect order or rule book that will predict a successful life, so feeling behind is purely pressure from society.

The truth is, everyone is on their own unique journey and while your friends may have reached certain milestones in their love life first, there are likely other areas that they feel behind in. They may have spent their 20s invested in a committed relationship or saving money for a wedding while you were able to travel around the world, meet new people, and experience various countries. It's hard to have everything all at once. However, forging your own path in life allows you to pull from various personal experiences in order to find fulfillment.

According to Clarity on Fire, feeling behind in life usually stems from a deep sense of unhappiness. You may feel restricted by your life circumstances, trapped in a soul-sucking job, upset you can't afford your own apartment, or scared that your social circle is changing. Therefore, the goal becomes less about keeping up with the milestones of other people and more about taking steps to live the life that truly aligns with you.

It may be time to make new friends

Instead of comparing yourself to all of your friends, consider expanding your friend group and surrounding yourself with people who are in a similar life stage as you. This is a great way to feel more normal, less behind, but also more fulfilled in your relationships.

Simply remembering that you are not alone in your singleness can help you find peace with where you're at, instead of constantly comparing. You may even consider searching for a non-romantic best friend. Oftentimes, many dating apps like Bumble also have a Bumble BFF option for platonic friendships. It's natural that different stages of life may cause you to gravitate toward those who understand your circumstances a little better.

It can be hard to admit that you're lonely, especially when you still have a group of friends that include you. However, if you feel like your couple friends don't understand you or can't relate to you, there is nothing wrong with adding single friends to your social circle. Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, explained to The Guardian that "shared experience" is often what brings strangers closer together and creates lasting friendships. While it can take more work to pursue these relationships as you get older, it may be the connection you need.

Take charge of the event planning

Trying to navigate your friend group when you're the only single one can also be difficult because many of the activities planned may revolve around things couples can enjoy. While ice skating, star gazing, and movie nights don't have to involve a partner, they can become romantic very quickly, causing you to feel left out.

Therefore, it's a good idea to take some initiative yourself with the planning of your friend group hangouts. Instead of allowing every get-together to revolve around couples' activities, you can think ahead and control more of the environment. Brainstorm ways to reduce some of the coupling-off that frequently occurs. Daytime events like a potluck in the park may be perfect. Plus, it can also be a great opportunity to invite some new single friends as well.

Ultimately, it's important to remember that those around you don't define you. It's okay to feel different than your friends. Just because dating or finding a life partner has been normalized by society, it doesn't mean it has to be a part of your current plan. Investing in the relationships that are enriching your life is the best way to feel that sense of inclusion and connection, even during your single days.