Hi, Carolyn: I am secure in the fact that I don’t want kids, and at 35 and very single, I have learned how to be alone without feeling lonely. I date when I want to, but don’t make that my focus. I’ve been successful at work and recently expanded my hobbies by starting my own website and creating a community of people around that. In short, I usually know what I need to do to fix feelings that don’t feel good.
However, I can’t get past this feeling of sadness of losing friends. At this point, all of my friends have different priorities. I also make my own priorities, but I’m left to do things alone … all. the. time.
I have childhood friends and we get together every holiday season. I also have work friends with whom I used to talk multiple times a day, but now that we don’t work together, it’s just a quick “catch-up” every six months or so. I’ve made efforts to make new friends – but I still miss my old ones.
Do I have to find my “one true love” so I don’t have to feel this way? It often feels like our culture is built like that, and as much as I’ve tried to feel secure in being single, that doesn’t help with missing my special connections. – Dealing With Life
I agree on our couple-centric culture, but not that “finding my ‘one true love’ ” is the only or even best solution. I know, you don’t either, your question was more of a rhetorical Hail Mary, but I’ve started so I might as well finish: It’s especially not the solution because single people aren’t mate-ism’s only victims.
People on the wrong end also include people who marry wrong (or marry meh), are widowed, fare better with social variety, or just bond better to friends than to mates. Or etc. There are too many emotional makeups among us for it to be healthy that one configuration so dominates expectations.
I don’t see anything wrong with being sad, either, at least temporarily. Time changes everything, sometimes at the cost of things you cherish. Life grows into these empty spaces – but it always takes longer than we want, and often longer than our optimism can bear. That’s OK. That’s normal. You aren’t failing yourself if you choose not to deny or even try to outrun that sadness.
Like any unwelcome emotion, though, it’s best treated as an alarm, a warning that something needs to change – be it something small, like having more patience, or bigger, like changing the whole way you “fix feelings that don’t feel good.”
You have adapted beautifully to other circumstances of your life – these old friends were once new ones, too – so trust that. It could just be that the task has changed enough to warrant a few different tools.
I wish I could say what these tools were. And say this without using the “tools” metaphor, which I despise. But only you see your life closely enough to spot which of your baseline assumptions need a closer look. That’s where answers to stubborn questions tend to lie – not in things you’re willing to try, but in things you too quickly ruled out. Take care and good luck.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.
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