In a society where the pressure to pair off is relentless, where do single women fit in? Or do they? Are there social events that they’re deliberately left out of, because they are not part of a couple?
In talking to always single women for my book-in-progress, “The New Old Maid: How Happily Unmarried Women are Defying Spinster Stereotypes,” I asked them if they’ve ever felt excluded because of their single status.
Here is a sampling of their answers:
Lucy: “Oh, yeah. Absolutely. There were social cliques that I was involved with in the past where it was all couples, and a single pretty girl was threatening, so I would be left out of things. Or girlfriends who had boyfriends didn’t want me around their boyfriends, because I’m pretty and petite.”
You were perceived as a threat?
“That’s my interpretation of why I wouldn’t be included in couples things. It hurt my feelings. But I brushed it off very quickly.”
Stephanie: “I’ve had great married friends who’ve always invited me over. There was never a feeling of being a third wheel.”
Andrea: “There are things that I’ve noticed, like when I look at advertisements for things and they always say, per person, double occupancy, then I think, ‘Well if I did that, I’d probably have to pay a big upcharge.’ But I think of that more as a financial thing than a social thing. And so I think I don’t do it because of the money, not because I’m being excluded by people.”
Celia: “It did get tiring to go to parties – I had this one friend especially in Los Angeles – she had a lot of parties, very social. It did get old, year after year, decade after decade to go to parties by myself. But I’d still go, and nobody made me feel weird or anything. Not everybody who went was partnered.”
Tish: “You’d have to know me to appreciate that no, I was very much a part of things. Every once in a while, the couple I travel with – they would get together for dinner or something where I may not have been included. Now, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a date and wasn’t doing something. Do you know what I mean? So I really didn’t resent it or anything. But to a certain degree, there is a certain…when you’re married – married couples get together.”
In “17 Undeniably Awesome Benefits of Being the ‘Third Wheel,” Katia McGlynn takes a comic view of the situation. After listing some dubious (but hilarious) benefits, she concludes that the only thing worse than being a third wheel is being a fifth wheel.
What about you?
If you’re a single woman, have you ever experienced being left out of something because you’re a singleton?
If you’re married and have single friends, is it awkward to include them in social events? How do you handle it?