When everyone has someone but you

How to navigate a world where it feels like only two will do.

A single friend recently pointed out how even seemingly innocuous events can make a singleton feel isolated. Whilst on holiday in France, she’d happened across a lovely rustic bistro and decided to stop and treat herself to a slap-up meal. When the waiter realised she was dining solo, he led her too the most cramped table in the whole restaurant which happened to be right next to the loos. To add insult to injury, when she later decided to order, she was told that the mouth-watering Chateaubriand she had her eye on wasn’t suitable as it was a dish for two.

It seems that singles often end up paying a tariff for their single status from shelling out ‘single’ supplements for the privilege of staying in a hotel room for one to supermarket deals which bypass the needs of the single shopper in favour of bold ‘2 for 1’ deals.

Even though, just under half the UK population claim to not be in a relationship, society seems ever more geared towards looking after the needs of couples and families. So if you’re single, it can start to feel as though you’re the only one around who hasn’t found ‘The One’. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to assert your rights as a single person and learn to cope in a world where it feels like the odds are against you.

Make new friends

If your usual circle of friends has turned into couples central, make some new ones! Take up a new hobby or learn a new skill and you’ll soon discover that you’re not the only single person in town. Whether it’s learning to knit, joining a book group or taking up sailing, group activities are a wonderful way to meet new people. Make the most of these encounters with like-minded folk and foster friendships. Firm friendships will be what see you through tough times so it’s worth investing some emotional energy further a field than your immediate social circle.

Eating out
Dining alone shouldn’t mean being shoved in a corner or on an uncomfortably high bar stool. If you think you’re being discriminated against for flying solo it’s perfectly acceptable to take your custom elsewhere. If there’s an item on the menu that says it’s for two, ask the staff if they’ll bag up the other half for you to take home. Order a bottle of wine and take home what’s left. Don’t waste your time worrying what the staff or other customers think. What’s it to them? The key is to be firm but polite. Remember: you don’t have to defend yourself for being single.

Shopping
It’s not fair but supermarkets do offer bigger discounts if you buy in bulk and that’s a false economy for the single shopper right? No, not if you’re a smart single. By taking a fellow single friend or relation shopping, you can both maximize on those bumper saving, bulk deals. Okay so you’re lists might not be identical, but you’ll both benefit from a few offers without overspending.

Weddings
Weddings needn’t be the singleton’s worst enemy. Okay so you have to endure watching yet another couple walk down the aisle and declare their love for one another, but you also get to meet a brand new set of people. So make the most of it and work the room. You never know who you might meet.

Dinner parties

If you’ve ever been a dinner party guest where you’re the only single in a sea of couples, you’ll know how awkward it can feel. Just showing up with an extra guest would be impolite, so ask whoever’s throwing the party if you can bring along a friend in advance. Most people will be too embarrassed to turn you down.

Three’s a crowd?
Tagging along with a couple doesn’t need to be awkward and can even be quite fun from time to time, but when couples are overtly affectionate and demonstrative, it can feel quite isolating. So, if your friend insists on seeing you with their other-half in tow, make it clear how you feel. Tell him/her that while you’re happy they’ve found love, you’d rather not play third wheel every time you go out together and ask them to make time to see you separately. They’ll appreciate your frankness.

Presents
While you don’t give gifts to receive them, try totting up the number and cost of presents you’ve bought as a single compared those you’ve received from couples. On birthdays you buy them something individually, on yours they give you a joint gift. Not to mention the umpteen wedding, christening and children’s birthday gifts you shell out for over the year. Most of us aren’t brave enough to do a Carrie Bradshaw and set up our own department store gift list, but it is possible to be smart without being stingy when buying presents. Where possible pool together with friends to buy joint gifts and you’ll end up substantially less out of pocket.

Enjoy your freedom
Spending your time obsessing over people who have found love will only leave you feeling down in the dumps. Instead of focussing on the negative, take time to appreciate the benefits of being single. You don’t have to put up with someone elses in-laws at weekends, you have full control of the TV remote, you can make last minute plans at the drop of a hat and you don’t have to compromise or make annoying sacrifices for the sake of your partner. Being single does have its advantages.