For Amber, the first thing she noticed was Friday nights.
She and her friends always used to take London by storm.
After work drinks turned into two-day extravaganzas with Sunday brunch to finish.
At the time, the 27-year-old felt like nothing would change. Young, foolish and free, Friday nights were theirs and always would be.
But soon, texts went unread. ‘Yes’ was replaced with ‘no’. Takeaways and Graham Norton took precedence over shots at the bar. Weekends of debauchery soon transformed into spa breaks in the country.
However, none of this was Amber’s reality. She was still wearing her highest heels, her best makeup and smile, but soon she realised she was waiting for the Uber on her own.
What happened? Relationships.
‘One weekend, I was texting the group to see if anyone wanted to head out and soon realised I was the only single one left,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘I don’t know how it happened, but all of a sudden, they jumped ship, and I felt so alone. Now, don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be happier for them, but it is an adjustment.’
A natural part of existence, relationships are an addition to growing up. They are one loving thread in the tapestry of life, but when you are young and carefree, they can feel like a milestone to be thought about later down the line.
Amber says lockdown made her situation easier to deal with, but since society has reopened, she has noticed the polarity once more.
‘During the pandemic, I felt it didn’t matter who was single or not,’ she explains. ‘We couldn’t go anywhere. But since socialising and travel has begun, I am starting to feel quite lonely.’
‘I see my friends on couple trips, date nights or planning group couple getaways, and it’s hard not to be jealous. Plus, the more I talk about dating or nights out on the town, the more I feel the distance,’ she says.
‘Now, I want a significant other just to fill that gap.’
What Amber is feeling is an emotion felt by many others.
Asa Baav, a sex, dating and relationship coach, says it’s a natural part of life as stages shift.
‘Being surrounded with friends who are at a different life stage to us can cause us to feel left behind and leave us wondering why it hasn’t happened for us yet, or if it ever will,’ she tells Metro.co.uk
‘Seeing our coupled-up friends share memories, future plans and a kiss and a cuddle over a shared bottle of wine can trigger feelings of loneliness as we too want to meet someone to share our life with.’
Asa also notes saying goodbye to the past can be a tricky thing.
‘Before we know it,’ she adds. ‘Friends do everything with a partner, leaving this void of how things used to be when weekends were filled with nights out and sharing memories.’
Grieving the past
Senior therapist Sally Baker agrees and adds it can be a type of bereavement.
‘Single mates you’ve shared some of the best experiences of your life with are now focussing their time and energy elsewhere,’ she says. ‘It can be heartbreaking to be excluded from their new inner sanctum.’
She explains how the disparity between single and couple life becomes more apparent, leading to more negative feelings.
‘When you’re the only single friend in a friendship group you can feel under pressure to be constantly upbeat about singledom so that your coupled up friends can live vicariously through your experiences,’ she says.
‘Coupled up mates don’t want you to remind them too much of the challenges of being single even though they were single themselves not that long ago. Your friends want to believe that you’re living your best life and they won’t hear differently.
‘It can be emotionally draining not being able to share the whole spectrum of emotions that being single entails.’
When one comes to a juncture such as this, Asa says there are things you should and shouldn’t do.
Focus on yourself
‘Don’t believe in the toxic narrative about it not happening for you,’ she advises. ‘Don’t start blaming yourself, and don’t talk negatively about yourself either.
‘Most importantly, don’t settle because you think you need to be in a relationship. Only welcome love in that you truly want.
‘Instead, create a life that turns you on and lights you up! Don’t wait until you are in a relationship to do the things you want to experience. Travel, visit new places, check out new bars, take that course and sign up to new workshops. Go out and make your life happen.
‘And eventually, love will come.’
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