By Rachel Greenwald
You know the drill: It’s Saturday night and you’re playing third or fifth wheel yet again. Your well-meaning married friend has just made yet another unintentionally-condescending remark about how awful it is to be single. Watching your coupled-up pals canoodle, you’re left wondering, “Am I unlovable? Why them and not me?” It’s rough when all your friends have dates, mates or spouses and you’re the only one left single. If you’re singing those “One is the loneliest number” blues, take comfort that your attitude — and situation — can change with four quick steps:
Step 1: Stay optimistic
From coaching thousands of single people, I can tell you automatically that your biggest challenge now is not to lose hope. When everyone around you is paired off, it’s normal to feel like it will never happen to you—but that attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Take a break from dating for a few weeks, do something that (or visit someone who) makes you feel good about yourself, make a list of 10 reasons why you like yourself, then list 10 reasons why you’re a great catch, then jump back into the singles scene with your new attitude.
Step 2: Get new buddies
Of course you’d never dump your old friends, but it’s time to branch out and find some new single buddies to keep you circulating. Notice that I use the word “buddies” rather than “friends.” Buddies are single pals with whom you can have a drink or attend an event or party; the folks you call on a Friday afternoon to ask, “What’s going on this weekend?” They don’t have to be your intimate confidantes or love the same books as you do. They just need to be fun, single and active people who can help you meet others and commiserate about the ups and down of being single.
To find these new buddies, ask everyone you know — your colleagues, your neighbours, your estate agent, your married friends — to introduce you to their same-gender single friends. (Same-gender buddies are best, so there’s no confusion about whether you’re on a romantic date.) It’s ironic, but the search for a buddy is similar to the search for a mate: It’s about networking, joining new groups and striking up conversations with someone who catches your eye. Most importantly, be very proactive. Set a goal to meet one new single buddy per week and really work towards it.
Step 3: Have a party
Nothing helps you network and meet new people better than throwing your own party. The key: When you invite people, be sure to say, “Bring your friends!” If your home isn’t big enough, co-host with a friend who lives in a bigger house or have the party in an event room at a restaurant, bar or even an ice-skating rink. The primary goal of the party is to meet single buddies who will increase your network, accompany you to events or restaurants and provide an alternative to being third wheel with your coupled-up friends. (In a 2004 “exit poll” among my no-longer-single clients, a whopping 72% reported they met a new single buddy at a party they hosted, someone who was later instrumental in their meeting their future mate.)
The secondary party goal is about enriching your life: Bringing together interesting people, preparing and enjoying great food, and reminding yourself that being single doesn’t mean being lonely.
Step 4: Leverage those couples!
Happy couples usually adore playing matchmaker for their single friends. They want everyone else to join The Club. And that’s good news for you! In fact, when all your friends are coupled-up, your network automatically doubles: You now have your friend’s new mates in your circle, and they each might have a few set-ups for you. But remember, you have to ask them directly for set-ups (they’re not mind-readers). You will not sound desperate, I promise. I just coached a woman last week who reported that she was eating Chinese take-away with her friend and her friend’s live-in boyfriend and boldly said to them, “Hey, not that this isn’t fun hanging out with you two lovebirds, but who can you set me up with?” Within a week, she was introduced to Mr. I-Think-He’s-The-One. It can work for you, too!