I’m getting married in a little over two months, and though this is a happy, exciting time in my life, there’s a bittersweetness. It started when I moved to New York a year and a half ago to be with my boyfriend. Up until then, our relationship had been long-distance; he was in Manhattan, and I was in Chicago. Through daily phone calls and frequent trips back and forth, we fell in love while still maintaining solo lives in our respective cities. It was a unique experience to be in a fully committed relationship, but continue living the same single-girl life I’d known since my last serious relationship (minus all the unsuccessful dating, of course). When I wasn’t in New York or hosting my boyfriend in Chicago, my weekends were filled cultivating other relationships — those with my closest friends. Life was filled with wine-drenched, late-night talks, long bike rides along the lake, picnics in the park, afternoon shopping frenzies, potlucks, brunches, and impromptu sleep-overs — all with my single friends. Now that I’m fully immersed in “coupled life,” I realize I’ll probably never have friendships like those again.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to cultivate new friendships here — I have, and I think I’ve been pretty successful. There’s the group of girls I get together with for brunch every other week or so, and the handful of old college friends I stay connected to with the occasional dinner party or happy hour meet-up. My boyfriend’s friends have also embraced me and I’ve managed to form individual relationships with some of them, friendships that have become quite meaningful to me. But the days of “romancing” my friends — of luxuriating in their company all weekend long and most weekday evenings is over. Given the choice — which, thankfully, I have now that my relationship is not a long-distance one — I’d rather spend most of my free time with my fiance. And soon that fiance will be my husband, and one day he’ll be the father of my children, and as we continue building a life and home together, I’ll have even less time to devote to other relationships.
I still plan to maintain my own friendships, of course, bonds I hope will help guide me through various transitions my life is bound to make, but I’d be fooling myself if I thought those friendships could ever be like the ones I made when I was single. There’s a freedom that comes when you’re unattached to any one person, a kind of freedom that seems to be almost magnetic. Other singletons and I found each other in a way that doesn’t seem to exist among those of us who are coupled. There’s a kind of kindred spirit-ness among single women (and gay men) that I haven’t found anywhere else. It’s a romance, really, that only fully blooms in the absence of a romantic relationship. It’s a romance I’d never trade my fiance for, but a romance I think part of me will always yearn for just a little bit.