Dear Carolyn: Now into my 30s, I'm perpetually single. I really don't mind — I have fantastic friends, a supportive family, and my life is great.
I've since talked with a few friends about this, and they fall in two camps: "That's utterly bizarre, and why do couples feel the need to hang out away from us singles?"; and "Well, of course couples need their own events, because we single people just don't understand the hazards of in-laws and shared bank accounts."
My best friend is in the latter camp, and I have to admit I feel hurt at being left out of group events because I happen to be single. I tried to explain it, but he just doesn't understand where I'm coming from at all.
Who's right, does it matter, and do I just have to live with it?
— I'm Single, Not an Alien
I’m Single, Not an Alien: Is there a more contrived and idiotic party-construct than a “couple thing”? Not a rhetorical question.
And as failures of empathy go, this one is utter and baffling.
Your best friend “just doesn’t understand”? How hard is it, exactly, to imagine himself as an ex-spouse or widower someday who, on the basis of that status alone, gets blithely excluded from things?
The whole thing is indefensible, and even presenting it as a dog-people/cat-people-style dichotomy gives it more credence than it deserves.
Can a white host arrange gatherings that exclude her close black friends because they can’t understand what it’s like to be white?
Even single-sex gatherings, which tend to be given a societal pass, can cross the same indefensible line, depending on the circumstances. Say you have a tightknit group of five friends who socialize regularly, four women and a man — and then one of you up and hosts a night out for just the four women. No topical justification like, say, a “Menstruation and You” lecture (tickets selling fast!), and no asking whether he wants in on a spa day, proffering the grace of letting him choose? The man would completely have grounds to feel hurt.
Now, certainly, people have every right to host their friends in mixed combinations at events large and small; not every gathering needs to include every person we like, love, work with or abut. Yet deciding someone typically integral is now disposable based on casual demography bias is exactly as crap as it sounds. And feels.
I hope you have a sense of humor, because after all that, here’s my advice: You’re right, it does matter, and you have to live with it anyway.
Well, not have to — but you at least have ample grounds to choose to. These are your friends, whom you yourself call “fantastic.” You can decide they have one ugly blind spot and even forgive it in them without sacrificing your soul, as long as you believe the good in them plainly outweighs this particular bad.
I’d say to invite all of your single friends over for a group eye-roll, but I of course would never condone such a thing.