Working in an office where about 90 percent of the employees are female makes for a fun environment. Especially since 70 percent of said women are under the age of 30. Our office is not very big, so we’re in each other’s faces a lot, but we get along well, which is not so common. We go out to lunch together, grab drinks after work together and have been known to, on occasion, see a play or musical as a group.
When in need of a break from excel spreadsheets and emails, chairs swivel around and we chat about our weekends, upcoming projects and which pair of boots we just scored off Gilt Groupe. But most of the time, our mid-day chat sessions turn to men and the always entertaining recap of last night’s date. Now, out of our small group, I am the only one currently in a relationship. This fact did not affect our work dynamic or friendship for months. But then I began to notice huddled conversations and plans being made literally around me, and I got a bit confused.
I didn’t think too much of it at first. But it kept going on—every conversation about dating, men and going out seemed to divert away from my desk. My co-workers referenced emails I wasn’t copied on, texts I never received and recalled inside jokes of which I was definitely on the outside. Then, as is the norm in our social media tinged lives, pictures cropped up on Facebook of hazy nights in clubs that I wasn’t invited to.
The confusing part was that our interactions in the office were otherwise normal. There were still daily lunches and jokes about ridiculous company emails. There was no malice or ill-will towards me and eventually, over freshly rolled burritos and guac, my co-workers started regaling me with pieces of last night’s events. I came to discover quite quickly that the motive for these selective plans was centered not so much in hanging out with each other, but more so on the hunt for Manhattan’s most eligible bachelors. And obviously it was clear: they didn’t invite me out because I was already in a relationship.
Even though the reason makes sense on a base level, I was not satisfied with that excuse. Just because I have a boyfriend doesn’t mean I don’t like to zip myself up in something sequined and go out! Not to mention that my boyfriend lives in another state, meaning I have lots of time to spend with the girls. The situation surprised me only because I have other single friends who wouldn’t think to use my relationship status as a deciding factor on whether to invite me out.
Now I understand there are women who don’t shut up about their boyfriends and that’s “sweet” … but not really. So for that reason, I can see single women not wanting to invite a friend out who blabs about her relationship. Except, I’m not one of those women. Yes, there is occasional talk of the guy, but really it’s when I get asked and I’m usually answering questions about how our long-distance relationship is going. (It’s going well, thanks.)
Now, I don’t pity myself. If my work friends want to go out as their own group, it takes one quick phone call and my post-work plans are still on with other friends. I just know my work friends and I would all have a good time. Plus, female friends in relationships make the best wingwomen. Seriously, it makes perfect sense. They have no personal agenda except to make you sound amazing to the stud of your choice. They can start the awkward conversation and quickly weave you into it, after dropping a few of your best achievements so you don’t sound like you’re trying too hard. And because they’re not trying to compete with you, they can make a quick exit.
But I digress.
After a few weeks of over-thinking the situation, I decided to get more involved in my co-workers dating conversations. At first, I felt like the old-timer in the office trying to fit in with the whippersnappers. But I soon happily found that they were more willing to ask my opinion and divulge the dirty details than I thought. It was nice to know I wasn’t fully excommunicated from the conversation because, while we do work together, we’re also friends.
Sure, it seems a little juvenile feeling “left out,” but it’s never a nice feeling when friends box you out, even if unintentionally. So I am glad to report that things are back to normal. Now I do get the emails and texts about tonight’s outing. I’m not entirely sure, but maybe I had to be accepted first, in some way, before they were comfortable with me joining their pursuits. Maybe they had to be sure I wouldn’t be that lame girlfriend out with her friends who can’t stop texting her significant other. But for whatever shift happened, it’s nice to go out and have a good time with friends without my relationship status being the deciding factor.
Another plus? I’m pumped to play matchmaker. Watch out Patti Stanger.