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I'm a 29-year-old female whose once active social life has been slowly disappearing. Many of my friends are now married and some of them have at least one child. As they became coupled and got married our friendships changed. Their time suddenly seemed to be available only to their partners and to gatherings with other COUPLES. I am rarely invited to these and have felt unpopular, alone and forgotten. I hate the way I am feeling and the fact that I have no control over losing my friendships. What can I do?
--Outside Looking inside
The late 20's are a time when many young people today are marrying. In fact, this has become the average age for first-time marriages. However, there are also many people who remain single well into their 30's and even 40's, who often lament the same feelings you have expressed here. They suddenly feel different, left out, and even "less then" their now coupled counterparts.
So, what are these left behind (single) friends supposed to do? To begin with, you need to empower yourself. Right now, you see yourself in a kind of victim role; in which you are helpless to stop the unfair but understandable and inevitable change that is occurring. Your energies appear to have gotten tied up in your feelings of hurt, betrayal, etc. You need to learn to do some letting go and moving on with YOUR life, as others around you have done.
A good place to begin is with an assessment of your current relationships, and overall support system, in general. Are some of your married friends still able and willing to maintain contact and make time to talk, get together, etc? If you are not sure, now is a good time to have an honest dialogue with them about how you and they are feeling about your friendship. What about your relationships with co-workers, family members, and others you interact with in your work/personal lives? Would you characterize these as healthy and mutually supportive?
Once you have identified the relationships that are currently viable and available to you, you should then decide if your support system is adequate or if you need to reach out for new friendships and pastimes. If so, it may require you to go beyond your present comfort zone in order to break out of the role of "left behind, unpopular friend." Set new goals, try new interests, pursue that dream you have been talking about. Be the author of your life, not a victim of it. Good luck.
(from March 2005)
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
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