Third-wheeling is tough enough. But feeling like a fifth or seventh wheel? Well, that’s a whole different world of awk. Newsflash: it’s OK if being around all couples makes you feel a tad weird. Regardless of how secure you are in your relationship status, that’s totally understandable. Fortunately, if you’re the only single person in a group, there are ways to feel more comfortable.
According to Pricilla Martinez, CEO of Regroop Online Life Coaching, it’s natural if being the only single person in a group makes you feel left out — especially if you’re resentful or insecure that you don’t have a partner.
"It can be downright painful to be reminded that relationships are happening to other people," she tells Elite Daily. "You can’t help question why a relationship is not happening to you."
And even if you’re totally comfortable with the fact that you’re not in a relationship, it’s still normal to feel awkward.
"Maybe you feel like you’re interrupting their conversation," says Martinez. "Maybe you can’t relate to some of the relationship things they’re currently up to. You feel surrounded by people who have something in common that you don’t."
The good news is that you do have the power to make these scenarios more enjoyable for yourself. Here are some expert-approved tips to get you started.
Engage with two people who aren’t in a relationship.
One of Martinez’s favorite strategies is "divide and conquer." Try striking up a conversation with two people who aren’t together. This will break up some of the couples, and allow you to socialize within the group without feeling like an outsider.
Also, the people you engage with will likely be oh so thankful that you busted them out of their comfort zones. Sometimes, couples have a tendency to stick together in a group setting — and let’s be real, they probably spend more than enough time with each other.
Single someone out.
Another approach you might take is to choose just one person to connect with.
"And don’t feel like you’re interrupting the couple," says Martinez. "They’re probably looking forward to talking to other people too."
It doesn’t matter whether you ask them about that new job they took, their recent trip you saw on IG, or the meaning behind their latest tattoo. You’ll both surely be glad that you made the effort to single someone out and bond with them as an individual, rather than as a couple.
Reassure yourself that you’re not an outsider.
Whatever you do, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of feeling as if you don’t belong in the group just because you’re the only one who’s single. That’s bound to amplify any potential awkwardness on your part.
"Know that if you’ve been invited to spend time with them, it’s because they want you there," says Martinez.
If it helps, try saying a quick affirmation out loud before meeting up with the group — perhaps something along the lines of, "I am loved, not in spite of my differences but because of them" or "I belong." Or, consider writing a note to yourself in your phone with an affirmation that you can quickly read whenever you start feeling uncomfortable or anxious in the group setting.
Be prepared to talk — or not talk — about your single status.
Depending on the nature of your friendships with the people in the group, there’s always a chance that they might ask about your love life. So, before you put yourself in that situation, consider thinking through what you do — and don’t — feel comfortable discussing.
"If you want to avoid diving into the conversation about why you’re single, be prepared with a strategy," advises Martinez.
For example, if you’d rather not talk about your single status, you might plan to say something simple and straightforward, like "I’m just content to do my own thing right now," and then change the subject. Or, if you’re an open book and eager to find love, you might plan to ask your couple friends if there’s anyone they’d be down to set you up with.
How you approach the scenario is entirely up to you, but just be aware that your personal life might come up in conversation. And if it does, remember that your friends likely aren’t trying to make you feel singled out (pun intended), but rather that they care about you and are genuinely interested in your life. Who knows? They may even be secretly jelly of your single ways and want to live vicariously through your independence.
Try the single buddy system.
Keep in mind that you never actually have to be the only single person in a group situation if you don’t want to be. So, when all else fails and you’re truly stressed about feeling like the odd man out, Martinez suggests bringing along another single friend to your outing. That way, if all your other friends start packing on the PDA (and you’re rolling your eyes on the inside), or talking about couple-specific things you can’t relate to, you’ll have a partner-in-crime to chill with.
As you try out any or all of these strategies, remember that it’s OK if you still feel slightly awk. Rather than trying to push those feelings away, be curious about them — because they’re more valuable than you might think.
"The triggers set off by the experience can give you good insight into what it is you’re seeking," says Martinez. "Do you feel alone? Would being in a relationship make you feel attractive? There are no right or wrong answers."
And guess what? That insight you glean will no doubt prove useful going forward, whether you choose to continue riding solo or actively seek out a relationship.
Pricilla Martinez, life coach
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