When I moved to the smallish community in which I live (7,000) I was a single woman knowing only my small family here — my daughter, her husband and my granddaughter. They themselves were busy moving to another house on the island so I was essentially on my own in making friends. Someone I knew introduced me to his daughter, a woman close to my own age. Through dogged networking I soon became friends with one more woman. For several years those two were my only local friends. I didn’t stop connecting with my friends in San Francisco but of course I saw them less, and I didn’t stop looking for new friends closer to home.
I’ve written many times of the work it takes to make new friends after a certain age, sometimes more work than it takes in finding a sweetheart, which I also was keeping my eyes open for. The search felt never ending. “Who do you know whom I might like?” I asked those I knew. I made a point of going new places and talking to people wherever I went, but for several years aside from a brief fling with a much younger man I met at my health club, the two women were the only actual new friends I made. One had health problems and soon died and the other habitually worked 60 hour weeks. I was often lonely.
Four years ago I was reunited with a sweetheart from long ago who came to live with me. Making the adjustment from a single woman of several decades to part of a couple was a major change. What also changed, and is the subject of this essay, was the way people related to me. Being part of a couple seems to entitle one to membership in what I have always referred to as the Noah’s Ark Club.
You know how groceries and sundries always used to be packaged for two or more people, rarely in single portions? There are often “twofers” in entertainment venues which can make a single person feel friendless and unworthy of inclusion on Noah’s Ark. The world seems to be set up under the assumption that people are usually coupled.
This has gotten somewhat better in recent times with even various food producers touting single portions and restaurants setting aside table for single diners to sit together. I always railed against the discrimination directed at single folks whenever I got the chance and urged unattached clients to go out into the world and enjoy themselves with head held high. Too much food in a portion? Freeze the rest. Feel uncomfortable eating out by yourself? Bring a book. There was no need to allow the prevailing Noah’s Ark Syndrome to hamper your style
I followed my own advice and had certainly moved beyond even a moment’s hesitation to travel, eat out, or go to live music events by myself, but as I said, with friends busy or too far away to go out with me. I was often lonely
Then when my Sweetie entered my life things changed. Not only was I not lonely but somehow the world’s relation to me also changed. People who habitually nodded to me to if they acknowledged me at all now spoke to me, to us. We as a couple received more social invitations than I alone ever had. Couples invited us as a couple to do things with them and the things they invited us to as often as not included other couples.
I’m not complaining at all about our new and more active social calendar. I still miss having a woman friend or two of my own and I’m still puzzling over what exactly happened to make things different.
Have you experienced this difference when you changed your status from single to coupled or perhaps from coupled to unattached? I’d love to hear.