So then. I presume if you’ve wandered around the internet enough to locate this page, you’re probably in pretty dire need of convincing re: the fabulousness of your newly/worryingly extended/permanent single state (don’t worry, we’ve all been here – at my lowest point I spend the evening googling sperm donors). SO – if I’m going to convince you that being single is actually the grown up equivalent of being given glue, glitter, a pair of scissors and a selection of coloured paper, then I’d better start with a good ‘in: FRIENDLINGS.
Of course, you’ll hopefully be familiar with ‘friends’ already – a quick glance at the dictionary tells me that ‘friend’ is defined thus: “A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.” Yes. You will probably even have one of two of these lurking around already – so this makes Part 1 fairly straightforward. Call them, arrange a meeting. Revel in their company.
Friends are the best company possible, trust me. Okay, so there’s not going to be any sex, BUT – there is going to be a lot of stuff which is consistently better than sex – for example, my own friendships bring: hilarity, talking, listening, dancing, more talking, support, unexpected post-cards, insightful advice, holidays in the sun, book loans, film recommendations, funny youtube links, text messages saying ‘Love YOU’ at midnight, and long, adventurous drinking sessions. You might want to traipse along down path of mutual affection and share some similar good times with your pals, or you might want to march to the beat of your own maracas and go to prayer meetings. Whatever. I promise that embracing your mates will make you proper glad you aren’t stuck indoors eating dinner on your lap in front of Eastenders while your partner checks the Daily Mail website on their i-phone.
What I must tell you though, is that now that you’re single, or now that you’ve decided to embrace being single, you are going to have to conduct your friendships with a greater degree of sophistication and ruthlessness than you’ve probably been doing thus far. For the time being, you have decided to shun mutual bonds of affection based on sexual relations – that means these a-sexual encounters will be the bread and butter of your emotional life. So, rule one for fulfilling friendships: have a cull – you need to immediately shed anyone who does not meet the following criteria:
a) when in his/her company you feel uplifted, interested, comfortable and uninhibited
b) when in his/her company you like yourself a bit more than when you’re on your own or with non-friends
c) you are happy to spend time alone with him/her, or time with him/her in a group
d) you do not resent the part anyone else plays in his/her life
Adhering to the above rules will ensure that you do not waste valuable hours of your life moping around with a Debbie Downer, or mooning after someone who is only going to exacerbate any lingering feelings of inadequacy you have re: being part of the dinner-for-one club.
I’d also suggest that you try to widen your friendship circle to include at least one of the following:
The Cheerful Optimist
Always smiling, up for a laugh and ready to put a positive spin on the day, the cheerful optimist will not indulge your penchant for self pity. They don’t want to talk about the economy, or listen to your drunken, maudlin regrets over past mistakes – they want to talk about celebrities/gossip about mutual acquaintances, tell you how wonderful life is and go out, party and meet people. They will never make you feel bad about the time you got drunk and tried to snog their brother at that Christmas party. And they make the best cocktails.
In recognition of the fact that no-one, least of all you, is up for a 24/7 party, and that sometimes you want to talk to someone about the fact you feel really sad for no reason, it’s always good to have a thinker in your friendship bank. They will feel sad often, and will buoy you with tales of their own woe. They like to speak long into the night and always have something deep, insightful and penetrative to say about your first world problems. They are not so good at a party, but are surprisingly tactile and sometimes they will quote Nietzsche and you will feel absolved.
You gots to have a creative friend who can take you to galleries/theatres/disused warehouses. Artists will open your mind to the wonders of the material universe. Seriously – these people know the most vibey places to hang out and are usually pretty flighty so you can tag along to random events at a moment’s notice and not feel like you’re intruding.
The Potential Love Interest
You both kind of like each other, but not enough. You are friends really – but there could be something. Is that a spark you feel or are you just lonely and undersexed? I’m not gonna lie – every now and then, single people feel lonely and they want some affection. Not too much. Not like, a relationship, but a conversation where there is darting eye contact, and awkward touches, and once or twice – but only if there’s a serious drought and you are morally/emotionally equipped for such dalliances – sex. The potential love interest is where your mind can wander when it’s late and it’s bed time and you’ve drunk that bottle of wine in front of The Cube and you just want to talk to someone. They’re always pleased to hear from you, even when you start the conversation by slurring on about how Philip Schofield’s hair went grey so quickly and totally in that short period between Going Live and This Morning. And the best thing is, when and if either of you do pair off, there’s no hard feelings – cos you know, you liked each other, but not enough.
Now, the final bit of advice I’ve got if you want to make the most of friendships as a single person is this: find some friends who are also single. If you don’t have any, then you need to get on facebook, twitter/go through your address book/text all your mobile phone contacts and find some single people. Set up a date, embrace the wonder of the lone adult with whom you do not want to procreate. Yes, yes, you should nurture the friendships you have with your coupled up mates, but trust me – if you want to drink margaritas ‘til three am, flirt with hot, but inappropriately attired tourists and then crash at somebody’s house, your single friends are rarely going to be amenable. They’ve already got a partner in crime, and they like to be in bed by half ten. Also – people in couples tend to cancel plans more often than singletons. I know they mean well, but they’ve more excuses (children, cats, parents-in-law, financial commitments), and they’ve a single object of desire waiting at home. This means they have kind of forgotten the sparkling glitter sprinkle of a million scattered friendships, and are therefore more likely to decide they fancy staying at home tonight actually, it’s been a long week at work. Conversely, you will find that your single, reliable friends are far more likely to look forward to your meetings with the same kind fervoured anticipation that you do. They will be up for ‘anything can happen tonight’ nights. Which are the best sort of nights. Especially on a Friday.