People change when they get into romantic relationships. That's not a bad thing, it's actually the point of getting into a relationship; you're supposed to change and grow and adapt and learn. Which is the point of anything, really. Like so many other things about you, when you're in a relationship, your attitude to your single friends will change. Suddenly, the people you used to dance until sunrise with are people who are texting you about how they danced until sunrise, while you stayed in to binge watch Netflix and fall asleep in your SO's arms at a reasonable hour. That's okay too. Real friends aren't people who are joined at the hip with you in everything you do – they're people who understand that different things will make you happy at different points in your life, and are there for you regardless.
Last week I wrote about how single people really feel about their partnered friends, and this week, I'm turning the tables, being that I am a smugly coupled non-single. There's a range of feelings people in relationships go through when relating to their single friends. It does't mean we don't still love our single friends. It just means that a new sort of happiness has entered our lives, and we have to juggle our new perception with the way our single friends expect us to perceive things – which are often two entirely different things. For instance, while we used to think stories of random dance floor disco kisses were delightfully thrilling, we're suddenly and acutely aware that our friends sexual victories are hollow ones. That's not to say there's no value in them, but that kind of hookup no longer sounds compelling to us. We're definitely in a more comfortably smarmy place than before, and we want only the best things for our friends, i.e., being as comfortably and smarmily in love as we are (if that's what they want.)
When you're coupled and are attempting to navigate your evolving relationships with your single friends, there is a range of emotions and thoughts you're bound to go through. They are:
"NOTHING'S GONNA CHANGE, BB!"
When you first get into a relationship, you sincerely and utterly believe that nothing is going to change. You swear that you're still going to have boozy, day-long brunches with your single friend every weekend. You believe wholeheartedly that you can have the best of both worlds: ample alone time with your BFF and your new SO. We all know it never works out this way. The more serious/comfortable you become in your relationship, the more time you spend doing serious/comfortable things. And while you still do spend alone time with your single friend, it's probably much less than you did when you were also single. Those boozy brunches become a little bigger as you begin to include your SO in your life. You had the best intentions, but time is a harsh mistress, and there's just not enough of her to go around. Just as long as you don't totally neglect your friends (you need them! They are important and awesome!), it's fine that your schedule doesn't revolve around them entirely anymore (I guess this is growing up NA NA NA!)
"I AM SO GOING TO SET YOU UP!"
Once you reach acceptance that your new, partnered lifestyle means that you'll be dividing your time between beloved and your friends, you'll start thinking of more creative ways to incorporate EVERYONE into social situations. Which basically means scouring your SO's collection of single friends and systematically setting up your own single friends with every one of them, hoping that they fall in love and get married and the four of you can have schmaltzy dinner parties where everyone knows all the names and originating countries of the really fancy cheeses.
"YOU REALLY NEED TO STOP DATING PEOPLE WHO ARE BAD FOR YOU."
Unfortunately, there comes a period of judgement in every coupled person's estimation of their single friend. It comes from a good place, really. And it comes from a place where, with your newfound happy coupledom, you can see, in stark relief, all the mistakes you yourself made when you were single. Relationships, love, how you deserve and want to be treated – once you're part of a happy couple, all these things start to look like common sense. Which is when you'll start lecturing your friends about their choices, and how to make better ones. Just remember that you got where you are on your own, and you probably made A LOT of mistakes (hello, unprotected sex with that modelesque bartender) along the way too. Basically, your decisions were crap, your friends decisions might currently be crap, everyone is crap – don't be a jerk about it.
"NO, REALLY, STOP IT."
Even more unfortunately, you'll continue judging your friend's poor dating decisions. You'll be the Judge Judy of opinions when it comes to who they had sex with last weekend. You and your significant other will probably have at least one discussion wherein you'll judge your friends together. Eventually, your single friend is going to get really tired of listening to you bitch. Suddenly, time management isn't the problem with you hanging out with your friends: you are the problem.
"WHY AREN'T YOU MORE INTERESTED IN MY COUPLE STORIES?"
Hopefully your "judgy-wudgy was a bear" phase won't last all that long and you can hear your friend's stories from the single world with a wide-eyed glee and gossipy support, the way you used to when you yourself were uncoupled. If you can make it here, your next complaint about your single friend is going to be that they definitely do not care about your stories of your SO doing adorable things. The fact is, they don't care. But if you're going to be listening to stories about how they "might maybe have herpes, they're not sure, can you look and see what you think?", then they should definitely be listening to your delightfully boring stories about Johnny Boyfriend telling you you look like a cute anime character when you sneeze and eskimo kissing you every time you do. Both your story and single friend's story suck. But this is friendship, and you're in it, so you both should do it properly.
"YOU'LL UNDERSTAND WHEN YOU MEET SOMEONE WHO'S WORTH IT."
With all the judgement gone, there's a new emotion: It's a genuinely zen state where you've reached a Nirvana of understanding. You'll no longer want to naggingly dictate how your friend should act on the path to love but you will simply sit back, comforted by the knowledge that when it happens for them, it will happen, and that you're not the Chess Master in this situation. This is where true friendship peace begins.
"I DO NOT MISS BEING SINGLE."
There's a misconception that people in relationships miss being single. We don't. At least, not those of us in happy relationships. In one year of being coupled, I have never once thought "I miss the single life." Sure, there have been moments where I'm like "I want to eat this WHOLE piece of cake, and I don't want to share", but the extra cake is never as good as racing the person you love more than anything to get as much as you can in your mouth before they do. People in relationships often look at their single friends with a sense of nostalgia for their single days, but with no regret or longing. Sorry, singles. Single life is great, but a happy partnership is incomparable.
"I MISS YOU SO MUCH!"
At the end of the day, you will be overwhelmed not by judgement, jealously, annoyance, or any feeling toward your single friend other than simply, "I miss you." As much as you love your SO, and want to be with them always and possibly forever, sitting about watching ANTM with your best friend and talking about what your poo looked like is something you will always miss. You'll just very simply miss the person. And once you feel that emotion, none of the other stuff will matter. You'll pick up the phone, call your friend, and organize a time, no mater how inconvenient, to just be together.