By Leah Campbell
It’s common knowledge that friendships change and evolve. Heck, life changes and evolves. But when everyone around you is moving to a new stage of life, pairing off and settling down, while you remain steady and single—what does it mean for your female friendships when you are the last single gal?
I am “the single girl” in my group of friends. Perpetually single, if we’re being honest. A woman in her early thirties who has certainly dated plenty, but who rarely dates anyone long enough to make introductions.
My friends are all married now, making me what we lovingly refer to as the 11th wheel because I am forever surrounded by couples—the third wheel, multiplied by however many wedding bands I am accompanied by at any given moment. (Somewhere in there is a romantic comedy waiting to happen.)
But the reality is, I don’t really mind my status within my group of friends. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would love to find my own Prince Charming and get swept of my feet, but… it’s also kind of comforting to see the women I call friends finding their footing in married life. It’s nice to see these women I care about pairing off with spouses who are actually worthy of them.
Still, that’s not to say there wasn’t ever an adjustment period. After all, there is certainly a transition that takes place when you go from being just one of the single girls to being the only single gal. Your friendships change. And you have to be prepared for that.
Long before you became the third, fifth or seventh wheel, it was just you and your friends. Sure, romantic partners came and went, and you all had your fair share of relationship drama, but it always came back to the girls; the ones you could rely on to gorge on rocky road ice cream and sappy romantic comedies with after every breakup.
Happy hours were common and you knew you had your wing women when it came to approaching that hottie across the bar. Plans could be made on the fly and finding travel partners was never an issue. Friends came first. Dates second.
Then, those rings started to appear. And relationships shifted and changed. Your friendships still mattered, but… they were no longer the priority. At least, not for the ones pairing off.
That can be a hard pill to swallow, and even harder to face; especially for the one left behind. For so long, those friendships were everything. So to see the women you still prioritize taking on other priorities for themselves; it isn’t always easy. It’s an adjustment to realize your best friend will no longer drop everything to meet you for drinks. That she now has to talk to, and coordinate with, her husband first. And that he very well may be joining you.
This is the stage where it’s hardest to be a third wheel. Where acknowledging that you don’t entirely know where you fit in anymore, and that things have maybe gotten a little awkward, is a visceral part of your reality. And where you have to learn to share this person (or people) you always previously considered to be your girls.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that they are adjusting too. It’s a big deal to so completely open your life up to another person, and whether they admit it or not, there is stress involved in making those changes. There may be nights when your previously single friends miss being able to drop everything and meet you for drinks without a care or thought for anyone else. Or when they are envious of your ability to plan a trip and jet off spontaneously, simply because you decided there was somewhere else you wanted to be. It’s not that the grass is always greener, but rather that there are pros and cons both to being paired up and being single—and so you are each likely looking a bit longingly at the other and wishing for at least some of what she has.
Or some of what your friendship used to consist of.
This is an adjustment period. For everyone.
With time, though, you start to realize there are benefits to being the third wheel. For me personally, I didn’t grow up with the greatest examples of what a healthy relationship should be. That is likely at least part of the reason why I am the sole remaining single girl in my group of friends—because I had a little more growing and healing to do than the rest of my circle. But through watching my friends fall in love, I have been able to witness what healthy relationships actually look like. I have been able to see for myself what is possible, and to start compiling a list of qualities I should be looking for.
Then came the realization that I didn’t lose my friends when they married off. Yes, our friendships changed a bit, but in reality—I just gained new friends in many of their husbands. A whole new male perspective that I get on my dating woes and relationship issues. Men who I actually enjoy spending time with, and who seem to enjoy spending time with me as well. At least … they usually find me amusing.
These are guys I have been able to rely on almost as much as their wives. They take care of me like one might care for a kid sister. If my car battery dies or something goes wrong at my house that I can’t figure out, I have a list of men I can call on for help without any expectation of anything untoward.
My friends married great men, and they have always been great to me. It turns out, when you embrace the men your friends fall in love with, you actually have a lot to gain.
Not just a third wheel status to shed.
The Silver Linings
There is always one important thing to keep in mind as your friends start pairing off: the potential for setups increases exponentially!
As the lone single girl, I am always the first person everyone I know thinks of when an eligible bachelor comes on the scene. My friends, and their husbands, keep me in mind for setups to an almost comedic level. And those guys my friends married have far more reach than my friends and I ever did on our own. They are also always quick to supply their opinions on the guys I am dating, and seem to care a great deal about me ending up with a man who is actually deserving of my time.
It’s kind of nice doubling the amount of people who have your back.
So yeah, you’re friends all got married and you’re stuck behind as a third wheel.
But take it from me, it’s not so bad being the last one to get married. You may need to occasionally put in the extra effort to remain in touch, but that’s true of life. Your friendships change, but in a lot of ways, they also get better. Because happy, healthy people motivate you to grow and change yourself.
And because it would be weird if you all stayed forever 21, drinking and partying like you had no one else in the world to care about.
Be glad your friends have found that person that makes them want to latch on and hold tight. Be proud that the person they have is of high quality and worthy of their love. And look to them as an example, either as you search for your own match, or you continue to embrace your single life for just a bit longer.