The problem with being single #8,497

I love my female friends to death, I really do. (Believe me, I never thought I’d say that being, as has been explored quite a lot in the past, more of a girl who hangs out with men.) They make me laugh, they give superior advice on a variety of subjects I’d never think possible, and, best of all, they make sure I get home when I have too much wine.

Anyway, there we have it, I love my girlfriends. They rock.

Except…

Well… none of them are *whisper* single. And, as we all know, as soon as you shack up with someone/get married, you completely forget (almost instantly it seems to me) what it’s like to be in single-lady-limbo. The constant questioning at dinner parties (believe me, Helen Fielding got that spot on), the stomach-swooping when spotting someone who takes your fancy and the motification (no, not the body decay, the feeling of shame) when a wedding ring flashes in the light or a girlfriend sidles up. Sundayitis.

Case in point, Saturday…

Saturday was skiing day (again). I, along with 3 girlfriends (2 married) and one fella (boyfriend of the third), got up at the crack of dawn to trek our way to the nearest slopes.

After falling over for a couple of hours, a hearty lunch (and a couple of glasses of vin chaud) followed by more falling over, it was established that a soupçon of apres was probably in order.

As the solitary single in the group, I took it upon myself to talk to, well, anyone really and, in my travels, found a group of chaps taking in the view outside.

A brief chat about who they were and where they were from (4 from the UK, all visiting a friend who lived in Geneva) and several bar recommendations later, it was established that there was only one place to go for beer. Charlie’s it was.

It turns out the likely lads were right. (Any bar that sells 5 beers for CHF12 is a winner in my book (£8.20)). And so there we sat, on slightly worn velvet barstools, taking full advantage of happy hour, watching pro-bull riding, discussing chick-fil-a and doing all those random arse things people do when they’ve had a day out in the sun with very little food, a lot of exercise and some beer.

On my meanderings in and out of the bar (anti-social smoker, me) I noticed that the likely lads had also gathered at the bar. One was snoring softly but, surprisingly, the others seemed almost sober. A brief hello to the group turned into small talk with a few of them which turned into flirtatious banter with one in particular.

“Where are you off to?” W says as I brush past, my bright blue ski jacket in hand.

“Last train” says I, making a move past. We’d already missed one train thanks to happy hour and the last one was in 20 minutes. If we missed that, we were stuck up in the mountains until 5 the next morning.

He catches my arm. “Don’t go! Stay with us.” Big brown melty chocolate eyes look at me. Resolve weakens. I falter.

“I really can’t” I stutter, going through mental logistical plans – if I stayed another hour could I get a cab home? How much would it cost? Would I be able to get a bus? Maybe I could stay the night and go skiing the next day? Was 20 miles really that far to walk?

“Oh come on, it’d be fun – if you need somewhere to crash we’ve got plenty of room.” More persuading followed.

My drunken mind continued to weigh up the options.

And then, just as I’m about to give in to temptation, she appears at the door. A friend has been designated by the others to come and drag me away. She gives me that look – you know the one; the “come on now, you’re having fun but it’s time to be sensible and you know you’ll regret this tomorrow otherwise” look.

I leave, grumpy and complaining (while, deep down, even then, I know that my friends are right. Staying would have been a stupid idea – but then again, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have a couple of stupid ideas every so often).

“How do you do that?” they ask me on the train home. “How can you just go and talk to anyone?”

I look at them blankly. It doesn’t occur to me that there’s anything wrong or difficult to talking to randoms. In fact, that’s pretty much how I get through my nights out.

So why did they, the non-singles of the group, find the concept so alien? Is this something that’s endemic to the non-single population? If so, what is it about being part of a couple which switches off your “ability to talk to random people” switch?

Or am I just making sweeping generalisations (General Isations *salute*)?

If I think about it, whenever I go out with my loved up friends, it’s always me who’s off talking to new people, bringing new people into the group and moving around the place. They are (and I’m not saying there’s anything in particular wrong with this) quite content to stay within the group and chat amongst themselves.

Is it because they’ve found the one (for now, in some cases) that they feel no pressure to go and talk to other people? Is it because they’re so content with the conversation and company they have that they don’t feel the need to find anything new?

Or is it us singletons? Are we so desperate to have what they have that we’ll put up with talking to anyone and everyone?

Discuss.

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31 Responses to The problem with being single #8,497

  1. Blonde says:

    I’d say you’re generalising, but thinking about it – I make conversation with anyone and everyone because I do it professionally, and find it hard to switch off outside of work.

    The friends I have who’re in the longest, most serious relationships have always been pretty judgey about my talking to random men in bars / on trains etc.

    Damned if I’m going to stop doing it, though – as you say, it adds new people and spice.

    • nuttycow says:

      You and I are very similar though Blonde. I think your (our) friends are just worried about us. Which is why we love them.

  2. Brennig says:

    Lots of caveats but…

    If I’m out by myself (as last weekend in Paris – and there’s a tale or two lurking beneath that covering) I’m very happy to talk to randoms, no matter where I find myself pitched up. I have met some genuinely interesting people (and only a handful of dullards) that way. It’s been fun. And uncovered only one bunny-boiler.

    If I’m out with friends I do try to stay with the friends (it is, after all, why I’m out with friends). Unless things happen (as the weekend before last in London), and plays unexpectedly become altered.

    But here’s what I don’t like and it’s a bit of a pet gripe; when I’m socialising (eg: out on a nine-hour lunch with three Parisian friends, a married couple and a married woman) and one of them calls up and invites along a *single* girl ‘just to get to know me’. That’s very uncool. And potentially awkward.

  3. looby says:

    “How can you just go and talk to anyone?”

    How does anyone meet anyone with that attitude? Presumably by taking advantage of the social oiling of the wheels that people like you do!

    I talk to people all the time, and I wouldn’t expect any girlfriend of mine to not do that either. There’s this possessive, insular nature of coupledom that is very offputting sometimes.

    Good for you!

    • nuttycow says:

      Agreed but I don’t think that they don’t do it because they *can’t*. I think they don’t do it so much because they don’t *want* to. Their other halves are lovely – they would never stop any of my friends talking to whoever they wanted to. It’s strange.

  4. robyn says:

    ahhh-’the look’. hate that.

    but -talking to anyone-i don’t know-guess it depends on when or who i am out with. are you friends boring? sometimes quite happy to be with my buddies, but if they are just cwork mates etc-usually come and go from them. don’t think this us everyone’s idea of a fun night out, but would think if you like that-your friends are up for that too.

    • nuttycow says:

      No – my friends aren’t boring (if they were, I wouldn’t hang out with them!) it’s just that sometimes I like talking to new people. And besides, if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t find any more friends!

  5. modelofamodernmajorgeneral says:

    Well, as you know, I don’t really do the talking to randoms thing; and you have always done the talking to randoms thing. Personally I just find it a bit strange to walk up to someone and presume that they’ll want to talk back. Moreover, I don’t particularly want to be “the creepy guy” who’s chatting up every girl going. Random conversations with blokes, based mainly on sport, are a little more acceptable, but I won’t continue it past the event/bar we were at.

    But then, I am fairly self-contained.

    • nuttycow says:

      The wonderful thing about it is, if they don’t want to talk back, they won’t. You just move on and find someone more interesting. Going to talk to people is different from chatting them up. No, you don’t want to be the creepy guy but yes, you do want to be the sociable one.

      When I go and talk to people I don’t go over there to chat them up – I go to talk to them. If I end up flirting well, so be it!

  6. Gibbers says:

    Well I must be unique. i’ve been happily married for a number of years and still happy to chat to randoms at every opportunity, my hubby would wonder what was up if I didn’t. Oh and I don’t think you’d be you if you didn’t chat to randoms! Now when can I come over skiing and act as your wing man…ha ha ha!!

  7. Smidge says:

    I love a bit of random chat but since I’ve been coupled up I don’t do it for the fear of being judge for flirting. As a girl random chat is hardly ever with other girls. I find the couple friends do judge you for doing it (what is she up to?) so it is a case of can’t not want!

    • nuttycow says:

      Maybe that’s what it is. I don’t buy it, personally. If I was flirting with someone, everyone around me would know about it. But just talking to someone?

      When I go on a “make friends” mission, granted, I tend to talk to men but that doesn’t preclude me from having a chat to women too. It just depends who’s around.

  8. I concur with this post and I’m talking as someone who is in a Relationship. Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule, I have friends who are social butterflies and when they’re in relationships, they still remain social butterflies.

    Then there are people who aren’t that social, but not recluses either and when these people get into relationships, they do have a lapsed attitude to socialising.

    I think most people, even the social butterflies do stop socialising when they’re in relationship but it’s just natural. It’s a personal boundary and trust issue which you’ve really touched upon here.

    The couple you were with, if one of them had started to random people, especially those of the opposite sex, it would strike it as odd or maybe disrespectful . Not even to the partner watching but just in their own mind. It’s like a common courtesy thing.

    When you’re in a relationship you’re more satisfied and guarded with your social circle. When you’re single you are more open to possibilities.

    Good post, you’re back! I like it.

    • nuttycow says:

      I don’t buy this, either.

      I think if you’re in a relationship then trust is implicit. If one or the other likes to talk to other people then that should be respected too. If your partner can’t trust you talking to other people, I’d really have to question that.

      I don’t think this is the case in my friends – I genuinely think they were content with staying within their group. Similarly, there are other couples I go out with (not many, mind) who are more than happy to leave each other’s sides and talk to new people.

      It just struck me as odd, that’s all.

      • You’ve misunderstood my comments.

        The it’s a sub concious gesture of trust rather than external trust. Of course couples can be comfortable with each other talking to people.

        Like I said in my last paragraph “When you’re in a relationship you’re more satisfied and guarded with your social circle. When you’re single you are more open to possibilities.”

  9. Kes says:

    “How can you just go and talk to anyone?”

    Well if that was me saying it to you, it would be in a tone of wonder a vague envy. I’m single but also weirdly shy (for a loud, decidedly insane Aussie). I love talking to people but shrivel up inside at the very thought of making that initial approach. Insane, irritating as all hell but there you are…

    • nuttycow says:

      Maybe it was said in that tone, I don’t know. At the time, I thought it was just a query.

      Making the initial approach is something I’ve learnt over many random nights out – most of the time, it starts with a smidge of small talk “please could I borrow a lighter?” “do you have the time?” etc and then, if the other person seems like a friendly sort, I’ll continue to make a random comment or two.

      On Saturday (same night as described above), a chap was outside with us, I was talking rugby to my friend and he was eavesdropping – he came in with his own opinion on rugby and there you go, a conversation started. Sometimes you just have to take a chance.

  10. HC says:

    You should’ve rocked it.

  11. Sarah says:

    What I want to know is… How do you know about Chick-fil-A!?

  12. Mud says:

    Yes, yes, yes! And in my line of work/life I have to talk to randoms. If I didn’t, well, there’d be no one to talk to at all!

    Hate the pity-face too. I remember one friend very kindly telling me that her aunt had just ‘found someone special’ and she ‘was only 45′!

    Gee, thanks.

  13. Rapunzel says:

    You are so right Nutty Cow! My attached friends talk about my single life as if it is a different world that I inhabit. I once went out to dinner with 9 other girls who were all attached. A guy came up and handed me his number and said he’d love to take me out sometime. All the girls were appalled. Appalled I tell you! They said I surely wasn’t going to go cause he was a stranger and couldn’t understand why I was considering it.

    I did go out with him! In your face!

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