This past weekend, I enjoyed time with a bunch of friends from my former stomping grounds — Nashville, Tennessee. They were in town for a friend’s graduation from The George Washington University. Between commencement ceremonies, meals, family get-togethers and touring the city, we kept busy. And our feet — blisters and all — did not thank us.
It was a mismatched bunch of folks, but the company was sweet. And one night, as we sat and chatted on a hotel rooftop at sunset, I couldn’t help but just take it all in.
Surrounding me was the full spectrum of relationships, including:
- A young, never-been-married singleton
- A thirty-something, never-been-married singleton (ahem, ahem!)
- A young dating couple
- A young wife
- A young wife with an adorable little tyke
- Two divorced folks, now remarried to each other
- A divorcée, who remains single
- A middle-aged married couple with a young child
- An older married couple with grown children
- A widow with grown children
And it really got me thinking about all those times that singles put themselves into a social box, confined to hang out only with fellow singles. Why? Because dating couples are so touchy-feely. Because married couples are so exclusive. Because people with kids talk only about their kids. Because old people are… well… old.
And there we are, spending time with the people in our lives who just so happen to be single like us. We talk and eat and laugh about how annoying everyone else is. But inevitably we get older. The forces of nature and mathematics kick in, and before we know it we’re in our thirties, and there are simply less singles in our social circles.
And it gets lonely.
Ironically, the morning after the rooftop soirée, I met a friend and fellow singleton for brunch. Over breakfast biscuits and cappuccino, we talked about work and church and the dating scene. I mentioned something about my married friends, possibly with an unknowing smirk or negative tone, and she called me out on it.
“Do you hang out with your married friends?”
And the truth is, I do. But perhaps not always with the purest of hearts. So we talked about it. We talked about how people in different stages of life can enrich our lives, and we can enrich theirs. We can learn from one another. We can grow together. And most importantly, they might know hot, single men to hook me up with.
So it was perhaps a twist of fate that the night before, after my friend’s graduation party, I was surrounded by such a diverse group. I engaged with the singles, the married folks, the divorcées, the widow. I hugged the 19-month-old little girl whose smile makes my heart melt. I talked with the 21-year-old who has no clue what he wants to do in life. I learned from an older, successful author as he told tales of his writings. I listened to the widow talk about the family she loves so much. I laughed with my young, married friends, who only a few years ago were single like me.
It was a great night.
And I am better for it.
Truth is, those social boxes aren’t helping any of us out. Yes, it’s good to relate to someone in the same life stage as you. A mom might need another mom in her life to talk to. A divorcée might need someone who is also divorced to truly understand her pain. A husband might need the camaraderie of another husband. But that can’t be it. That can’t be the extent of our relationships.
Jump out of the box.
Then stomp on it.
Then throw it away.
Open yourself up to a world of possibility found in friendships you may have never given a chance before. Trust me: You will soon find yourself on a rooftop on a cool night, just taking it all in. And that moment will make it all worth it.