It's hardly a secret that being surrounded by couples when you're single can be a bit of a drag. No matter how much you love your friends, it's easy to feel like an outsider if you're the only one in the friend group who's not paired up. Even though it can be hard to be single when all your friends are in relationships, it's important to understand why you're feeling bad about it. Understanding the root cause of your discomfort around being single is one of the first steps toward shifting your perspective about the situation.
I spoke to NYC-based relationship expert and love coach Susan Winter to get her take on why being single makes some people feel uncomfortable in group situations, and what to do about it. "It's natural to feel uncomfortable when everyone you know is partnered, but you," Winter tells Elite Daily. "All your playmates are occupied and have their 'person.' Even though they love you and want to see you, they already have someone who takes priority." Knowing that all of your close friends have someone else taking up their time can naturally lead to some complicated feelings.
On a purely practical level, hanging out in a group full of couples can make it easy to feel left out. "Your mere presence creates an odd number, which creates difficulty in seating arrangements and other reservation requirements," explains Winter. It's totally understandable to feel awkward if you're the only one at dinner who's not sitting across from someone, or end up getting unintentionally excluded when the couples break off into side conversations.
According to Winter, the self-consciousness that comes with being single can be magnified even more by friends who mean well, but unintentionally end up making you feel worse. Especially if they make a point of bringing up your singledom or make it seem like they feel in any way "sorry" for you. (Even though there is nothing to feel sorry about. Being single is awesome.) "Your friends are conscious of the fact that you're alone, and may feel obliged to speak to you or feel guilty because they're not paying attention to you," says Winter. Needless to say, this doesn't help the situation at all.
It's also important to realize how much social pressure there is to be in a relationship. Oftentimes, being single can feel more like a curse or condition that needs to be fixed. "We live in a couples' world," explains Winter. "We tend to group things in pairs and being the odd number is a difficult position to have because we oftentimes may feel devalued or undesired." Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make embracing singledom a bit easier. First off, accepting the reality that everyone is single at some point in their life is key. "Being single now, doesn't mean you'll be single forever," says Winter.
Making new friends who aren't in relationships is also a good idea, noted Winter. This way, you can have other people to hang out with or invite as your plus-one so you don't feel left out. Even though being single can definitely feel like a bummer sometimes, the truth is that every situation has its pros and cons. Your friends in relationships might seem like they have it all, but there's also a good chance that they may secretly idealize the freedom that comes with being single, just like you're idealizing being in a relationship. So, instead of stressing or feeling negative about being single, why not just embrace it?
Ultimately, you might not be single forever, so there's no point spending your sweet freedom obsessing over something that's probably going to change. Just trust that if you want a relationship, when the time's right, you're bound to find someone who's looking for that too.