[Written by Morgan Laing]
[Image by Morgan Laing]
Like many women who have obsessed over the seminal romantic dramedy Sex and the City, I have found myself – alone, on a Saturday night in front of the TV – pondering the similarities between the four fabulous protagonists and myself. Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, Miranda, me… our lives aren’t all that different. Just like them, I have a tight-knit group of friends. I also live in a city, and I attend blowout brunches that I can’t financially justify but still indulge in anyway because, hello, have you tried the pancakes in this place?
Here’s the big difference, though: while these characters experienced – for the most part – overlapping periods of singledom, I long ago resigned myself to being the only single girl in my social circles. The partnerless pal. As my best friends from my hometown couple off and my flatmates get serious with their beaus, I see few serious romantic prospects on my own horizon. This has sent me into a panic at times, because I never once considered that the romantic landscape of my early adulthood would look this way. I always imagined these years would revolve around me and my girls meeting new people and having fun – but ultimately waiting a while to make any big relationship commitments.
This, reader, has not been the case.
I love my friends more than anything in the world, and their happiness is one of my priorities. FOR REAL. But there’s a loneliness that accompanies being the only single friend; it can impact the degree to which you relate to one another, making you feel as though the common ground you once had is evaporating beneath your feet. My friends listen to me earnestly when I talk about nerve-racking first dates and ghosting incidents and unrequited crushes, but our situations are not the same and we’re not navigating this together. Many of them can’t remember what it’s like to be in the ‘awkwardly DMing’ phase of a prospective romance. Likewise, my lack of experience in the relationship department leaves me ill-equipped to advise on boyfriend drama or, say, the pros of cohabitation. When my friends bond over the cute/quirky/annoying things their partners do, there’s not much I can add. There’s a sense of being left out, or left behind, and it’s born out of the types of conversations I can’t contribute to.
And then there’s loneliness in a more literal sense. Once, during a severe weather warning, my friends escaped the city to stay with their partners before the roads were closed off entirely and all public transport ground to a halt. I sat at my bedroom window and watched the snow obscure the charcoal sky, wondering if I would have to ride out every storm by myself. I didn’t – and don’t – blame my girls for leaving that weekend. Who would want to remain in a freezing city (which looked decidedly post-apocalyptic, thanks to the weather) when they could be cozied up with the love of their life? I wasn’t resentful, but it was an event that prompted one question to swirl around in my brain: why haven’t I found someone yet? I can be rational about this. I can be logical. I know that my help-will-I-be-alone-forever shtick is premature, not to mention unhelpful. But when you are the last remaining single friend, it’s difficult not to wonder when is this going to happen for me?
Thankfully, there’s a silver lining in all of this. My status as the only single friend has taught me that, if I want to be happy, I need to be okay with being by myself. I am working on this. I know now that wallowing in pity while I wait for someone to sweep me off my feet is a fundamentally pointless exercise. When all my ladies have Friday night dates, or visits to their bae’s parental home, I have two choices: I can be sad that I don’t have any plans, or I can make my own fun. I can take myself out to dinner! I can see a movie that no-one else expressed an interest in (whaddup, Timothée Chalamet?)! I am slowly learning how to stop conflating being alone with loneliness. Plus, watching all my favourite people nurture fulfilling relationships has offered me something of a blueprint for my own future love life. Staying single has given me time to figure out precisely what I want.
I was probably naïve to think that none of us would enter into serious relationships at this age. It shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did when engagements started happening and long-term plans were made. But becoming acquainted with new people has shown me that I’m not only single girl on the planet. In any case, it took six whole seasons for all the SATC women to be in committed relationships at the exact same time (“sorry, all my friends are taken… wow, I’ve never said that before,” Carrie observes in the 92nd episode).
I know now that there’s still plenty of time. And I know that, no matter what happens, I will always, always have my girls.