Are Married People Smug? Are Single People Hypersensitive?

Are Married People Smug? Are Single People Hypersensitive?

I’m a big advocate for healthy long-term relationships that lead to marriage. I believe in love. I believe in compromise. I believe in the generic vows: for better or worse, in sickness and in health, til death do us part. I never found any of this to be remotely controversial. Then I started writing a blog.

Upon which I was informed that my personal beliefs about the joy and transcendence of being in a happy marriage made me “judgmental” or “smug”. I find such claims to be somewhere between amusing and infuriating. I’m amused that my beliefs and lifestyle choices have the capacity to hurt you. If you don’t want to date online, date at all, open up to different partners, compromise, fall in love, get married and have kids, that’s 100% fine by me. If you want to work 60 hours a week, train for a triathlon, travel around the world with your girlfriends, that’s your business. You’re not wrong. But that doesn’t make me judgmental, nor does it make me smug.

So how is it that single people don’t seem to understand that married people’s lives change and that while we are less available, we still love you just as much?

I’m a dating coach for women. My job is to help those women – the vast majority of whom want to date, fall in love, and get married – achieve their goals. And yet, I can’t tell you the number of comments I’ve received suggesting that there’s something wrong with me because I don’t show proper respect to women who don’t want to fall in love and get married.

If you’re one of those women: I completely respect you. I just don’t have any idea why you’re reading my blog, which is inherently targeting women who want the kind of relationship that I have. So why am I leading off today’s blog post with this personal tangent? Because I read a juicy “Open Letter To Our Single Friends” on Clutch Magazine, in which the newly coupled up author tells her single friends that even great relationships are not cure-alls and that even women in couples really need their girlfriends. Amen. I love my wife more than anyone in the world, but I still need to hang out with other couples, play fantasy football with college friends, and go out for a guys’ night every once in awhile. Do I do these things as much as I used to? No, that would be impossible given that I live in the suburbs with two little kids, but it doesn’t mean I value my old friends any less.

Anyway, I thought this piece was well-written and non-controversial…until I read comments like this.

“Dear married friends, the phone works both ways. P.s. don’t just call when your boyfriend’s busy. Sincerely, your single friends.”

I know I’m biased, but I was single for 35 years. So how is it that single people don’t seem to understand that married people’s lives change and that while we are less available, we still love you just as much? This is a universal phenomenon and I think it shows a complete lack of understanding to guilt trip someone in a relationship for having a slightly different set of priorities. What say you, dear readers?

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  1. 1

    Most of my oldest friends are married, I accept that they have less time, really it doesn’t bother me. What I find “smug” about them is they believe their problems are more important because they are further along in life. I have to listen to them complain about their husbands or how they want a bigger house and if I try to talk to them about dating is like crickets chirping, tumbleweed rolling by etc. The funny thing is when they were single, their dating lives were as important as mine but once you’ve partnered up, you don’t need to think about it anymore.
    So to married people, I would say this “your single friend’s life is just as important as yours so treat them like their problems or lives matter.”

    1. 1.1
      Dina Strange

      Being married is not being “further along in life”.

      1. 1.1.1

        If your goals include marriage, home ownership and children and your friends have achieved 2-3 of those things and you haven’t achieved any, yes they are further along.

        1. Susan Nercher

          Then you need to change your goals. Your goals don’t have to be the same as everyone else’s goals. The people who are further along in life are those who know what they want and make the right decisions for themselves and others as opposed to those who just do what others do in order to keep up.

        2. e

          The goal is peace and happiness  and it is entirely up to you, married or single,

        3. Edward

          julia,saying that married couples are further along—NO they’re just further in debt

      2. 1.1.2

        yes Dina..agreed

  2. 2

    I guess my heartfelt response is this: sometimes I think we hold on too tight to friendships. When a friend goes through a major life change, I have found that I need to loosen my grip on the way things were between us. The relationship will either evolve or it will become less important.  Particularly between girlfriends, one person’s major, happy, thrilling, life change is another person’s grief over the loss of what the friendship used to be.
    In our society, where there are more single adult women than ever, I’d like to see just a little more compassion and allowance for grieving our friendships. Once you’ve been single together and one person gets paired off, there is a real loss on the other side. It takes some time to find equilibrium again.
    Perhaps if both sides were acknowledged there might be less “smug” and “bitter”?

    1. 2.1

      I totally agree with you. I don’t think it’s about one friend becoming the smug, and the other becoming bitter.  I truly think it’s just, you both change, your circumstances change, your priorities change, your preferences change. If the friendship doesn’t survive that, let it go gracefully and graciously.
      I’m not interested in trying to force or guilt-trip anyone to spend time with me or be my friend, and so if my married or coupled-up friends are less available for me, I wish them well and move on with my life. I’ll still make an effort if they reciprocate, but I don’t dwell on it. There are 7 billion people on the planet – other friends *will* come in to fill the gap if you let them. I agree it is a kind of grief – one I always feel a bit sad about – but I don’t fight it.

    2. 2.2

      Beautiful expression of what I’ve always felt but never been able to articulate.  No matter how happy you are for your friend, there is always some sense of loss.  Better to acknowledge it and let it run its course than fight it or feel guilty for not feeling unadulterated happiness for your friend.  

  3. 3

    This is a universal phenomenon and I think it shows a complete lack of understanding to guilt trip someone in a relationship for having a slightly different set of priorities.
    True. The difference in perspective here, I think, has to do with you being a man. I think women devote a lot more to their friendships. There’s more invested because of how intimate and personal our friendships can become. I read something on The Frisky a couple of months ago, similarly titled and themed, written by two women in relationships.  It’s not that single women don’t understand that priorities change when you couple up, marry or have children. Maybe a tiny segment of single women truly don’t understand that sort of shift in priorities. But most do. The underlying message of the Clutch and Frisky pieces is that single women just don’t understand what being in a relationship involves. That, in and of itself, is where they smug accusation comes in. Whether it’s a new job, a new pet, a move or a new relationship, most adult human beings understand the need for shifting priorities. It’s not a foreign concept.
    The fact is, a lot of women in relationships absolutely blow off their friends for men. It’s a given and understood ritual that when a female friend is in a new relationships she’s cut slack for being absent or talking about a guy endlessly.
    But there’s a line. And many women cross it, abandoning their friendships because they think they no longer need them. The reason why you seem surprised at the reactions in the comments is because, I’m going to guess, you’ve never experienced this in any kind of regular capacity. As such, you’re unable to fully empathize for women in this situation.

    1. 3.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      My friend, as a coach for women, my whole job is about empathy. But just because you can empathize with someone doesn’t mean that they’re 100% “right”. Chances are, they don’t see the full picture. And that’s pretty much all I do – flesh out the things that you can’t always see when you’re feeling so deeply. At this very moment, I feel sad that I barely talk to my closest college friends any more. I make a greater effort than they do. Yet it’s nothing personal. They are just like me: married with toddlers, paying the bills, trying to be good husbands and fathers, and not having a second of free time for themselves. It can take three months for me to get a call back. I can get upset at them, or I can try to understand that they don’t control their lives and don’t have any more to give than they’re giving. That doesn’t mean I’m satisfied with the status quo of the friendship. It does mean that I have the emotional capacity to step into someone else’s shoes and discover WHY they’re behaving a certain way. It seems that singles who get angry at their coupled friends aren’t able to fully see how things change, whether we want them to, or not.

      1. 3.1.1

        Hum… Single people have been coupled once in their life – at least some of them, and some of me. I do understand that my girlfriends have something better to do than being focused on our relationship, no problem with that – been there, done that. Well, actually, to be honest, it makes me a bit sad – that said even though I have been in the reverse situation once! It’s normal and human to feel that way if you are single – a quick step from being alone. I do not insult my girlfriends : I don’t find them judgmental. I wish they were still single like me, so I couldn’t compare myself to them. I wish I was married, so we could all talk about how our husbands do this and that and how awwww it’s so cute when he does this and awwww it’s so annoying when he does that. In short, I whish we were on the same page so our relation would go on as it was before. Difficult thing for humans, change.
        My point being : if single people need to understand that life changes and priorities shift, married people need to understand their single friends might need them more than they do and miss them more than they do. Understanding goes both way.
        And, I do agree with @ATWYsingle, some women completly loose themselves in men, which is unfair to men ( they are treated like they are some promised land or a Graal to cling to) and unfair to themselves (balance is a key to happiness to me – the more you “diversify” your relationship base, the least likely stress and problems are to rest on one unique shoulder, your relationship with your hubby, and the more you stay centered on who you are apart from your relationship with him).

  4. 4

    Oh! I just realized that the piece on Clutch was actually the same Frisky piece I mentioned!

  5. 5

    I kinda wonder if this phenomenon has more to do with the individuals involved than their marital status. Looking back, the married friends who “disappeared” after they got married were the same ones who disappeared whenever they started dating a new guy; the same ones who only want to talk about their babies and husbands and DGAF about anything in your life were kind of self-obsessed people before they had babies and husbands, etc. I think this is all just part and parcel of an unfortunate tendency of human nature: we’re all selfish and self-centered, and it’s hard not to be that way… and imho, most people don’t even bother trying not to be that way. 

    1. 5.1

      Amen, Steelheart!  This topic hits very close to home and is situational based on each “friend”. I’ve had many so-called friends forget I exist once they enter a relationship/marriage. I’m single and childless at 42, and I know we have less in common now that they are married with kids. It’s an insult when said married with children friend talks about herself incessantly while not asking anything about my life (dating, job, volunteering, etc).  Because of this–  I’ve learned to be more choosey and selective with new friendships. I find it amusing that a couple of “friends” who so quickly blew me off years ago have crawled back apologizing, wanting to reunite friendships.  It depends on the “friend” and how much effort we both put into the friendship post marriage. I refuse to always be the one reaching out –  and so-called friendships have dwindled because I stopped doing all of the dialing and planning. I always go back to something I heard a long time ago about relationships of all kinds – they are in your life for a Reason, Season, or Lifetime.  Sadly, a lot of my married friends are now in the season category. 

      1. 5.1.1

        Some of those so called friends, J ,nothing might be  going on for them and they need support. For example, theyy might be facing marital problems and all of a sudden they need their friends. The important is not to let them use u. That saying is so true. Some people come into your life for a reason, some into your life for a season while some come into your life for an entire lifetime. Up to yesterday, that saying crossed my mind about a friend who was close to me and one of my sisters but doesnt call me anymore.She only calls my sister now. She is not married however. I suppose she is no longer interested in my friendship but thats ok. Thats how life goes. I just have to keep making friends.

      2. 5.1.2

        I don’t mind always being the one to call, or being the one who puts forth more effort to get things together. I do mind when that effort isn’t noticed or respected. My old college roommate has two kids under 2. Sometimes that means I make the plans, come over and help her and her husband clean up and put the kids to bed, and THEN we hang out or go out. But she never fails to show her appreciation for that, either. It’s the people who don’t do that who drive me nuts — going back again to Julia #1’s comment where they behave as though their time/energy/lives are more important than yours.

    2. 5.2

      @ Steelheart, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.  I’ve been married before, and am single now, and I have seen what it is like on both sides of the fence.  It’s a very unfortunate tendency, but many couples will just tend to socialize/congregate with other couples; it’s their comfort zone and what they understand, so that’s how they tend to operate.  Now, not all of them do that.  My live-in boyfriend and I are very comfortable socializing with friends who are coupled, but we are also very comfortable with socializing with our single friends as well.
      I was the unfortunate dumpee too often, when friends in the past met someone, and then when those relationships invariably ended, they came crawling back to me to try to pick up where we’d left off.  I wised up and politely told the person that if that is how they viewed friendship, as disposable and non-important, that was fine, but I didn’t view friendships like that and I’ve since moved on.
      I’ve always made time for other friends, whether coupled or single, when in a relationship.  My friends are extremely important to me, and have been my system of support while I was caring for my mother, who recently passed away from cancer.  If I had shut them out to just focus like a laser beam on my boyfriend, I’d really be up a creek right now, and rightfully so. 
      If more people would be a bit less self-centered, I think we’d see a bit less tension between folks who are married, and those who are single.  I know that priorities and circumstances do shift when you go into a changed relationship status, but that doesn’t mean that you give up all the friends you have made along the way.

  6. 6
    Deanna McNeil

    I suppose some of my coupled up friends are just kind of selfish. They will reach out to me to say “I want to see you” and then clam up when I suggest a date/time as if now I am pressuring them. I have learned to respond to such outreach messages with a smiley face 🙂 and then just forget it because it’s silly to get mad. I just don’t know why some women do that outreach number and then don’t actually do anything? I was fine liking your status on Facebook till that moment!

  7. 7

    “The fact is, a lot of women in relationships absolutely blow off their friends for men.” This is absolutely true in some cases. A smart woman won’t do that though. Let me share my experience and how things turned around. I grew up with someone who I have been friends with for 39 years. We have been friends from I was 8 years old and she was 9. We are both 47 and 48 respectively now. She got married at age 25 and I was 24. I thought I was going to be one of the bridesmaids or she would ask me to toast her. She didn’t ask me to do a thing. Only one friend used in the bridal party and another asked to toast her. We weren’t so close after that. She didn’t seem to bsee the friendship as important anymore. When the kids were born, I wasn’t asked to be their godmother but other long time friends were asked. For years we were no longer close although both our families were friends for the same lengths of time as our friendship. We were not close for years until about 2009, we reconnected and have gotten close again till now. In fact, we lived on two neighbouring avenues for 2 years and now we live beside each other. When I move again, which I intend to do, I willb ensure that the friendship doesn’t suffer again. We are close again, not just to her but to her husband and kids. Kids call me Aunty.

    1. 7.1

      I can totally relate. I am so so fortunate and blessed to have understanding friends who were willing to forgive me when I chose the “man” over them. Bad bad, Jeanne. From now on, I chose to respect myself with limits that I am comfortable with. Like you, I am willing walk, rather run from a demanding smotherer. I’m so glad you could work things out with your friend. True friendship is hard to find and something to never part with 🙂

      1. 7.1.1

        Thanks Jean.

  8. 8

    Some women who blow their friends off for men, some of those persons only call when they and their husbands are having problems. Then, that is the time u hear from them.

  9. 9

    I’m in bed with a horrible cold, but I had to drag myself to my computer to comment on this. I was that woman who, for two years, blew off her girlfriends, both single and married, and disappeared into a relationship. The man who was my boyfriend, describes himself as sensitive and romantic. We lived quite far from one another, and saw each other on weekends plus 1-2 weeknights. He made it very clear that it made him feel unloved and unappreciated, made him question my feelings for him, if I did not give him my full attention during those weekends. So as a result, I hardly ever met with my friends, since most of our weekends together were at his place 70 miles from mine. I hardly ever called them on the phone. I spent my 3-4 free nights a week taking care of my home and my family, so I’d be free for my and my boyfriend’s weekends together. Plus, we had a full social life in his town with his group of friends. A year into the relationship, my girlfriends stopped inviting me over. I thought nothing of it. After two years, without giving me a warning or a reason, he left. I started reaching out to my old friends, who were very sympathetic, but also very busy – they’d moved on and were now very hard for me to get hold of. (We’re slowly getting back in touch now.) Okay, I thought, so I’d lost contact with my old friends, but that’s cool, because I had my new ones – my ex’s social circle that I’d spent two years with. I started contacting them to meet up and catch up – no answer. The one reply that I got back, contained the word “awkward”. My ex tells me they were never my friends, and only were in contact with me because they had to when I was his gf. He also tells me that this is normal, because they did the same thing to his ex-wife after divorce. What can I say. I screwed up. I brought this all upon myself and it is now up to me to undo the damage I’ve done to my old friendships. It was my second serious relationship after my long, dysfunctional marriage, and I didn’t know any better. My next relationship, I will definitely take care and schedule time to stay in touch with my old friends, and if the man doesn’t like that or it makes him feel unloved, he knows where the door is. Posting this here so people could learn from my mistakes.
    Julie #1 – excellent point. I didn’t take people’s dating problems seriously too, when I was married. Another thing that I will need to pay attention to in the future, if I’m in a serious relationship again. Thank you for bringing it up.

    1. 9.1

      Goldie, its good that u learned from your experiences. Notice that the guy didn’t drop his friends and when u broke up with him, his friends didn’t want to link up anymore. Never drop a man for your friends. Most times when u and a man breakup or divorce, women don’t want to be in touch with their ex’s friends, unless of course, these friends also became the woman’s friends. I had a friend who I have lost touch with now. When she and her husband broke up, she stopped keeping in touch with his friends and only linked with hers.

    2. 9.2

      Good words of wisdom, Goldie, since my current relationship is going the direction you’re describing.  I enjoy the closeness that my new boyfriend wants to share, but I also miss my female friendships.  It is particularly hard when you live apart and have a family to take care of as well.  Were you ever able to borrow hours from the next week like I have fantasized about doing many times?  😉
      In terms of the point of this post, I believe you commented a few years ago about one can never have too many friends in this life, particularly as we age.  Those words really stayed with me and have actually help me get over some bitterness toward an old married friend who has seemed uninterested in my single and decidedly unglamorous life.  Since I’ve gotten past that, I can enjoy her friendship for what it is.

    3. 9.3

      I hope you are able to repair your friendships Goldie.  In my current friend circle (mostly my grad school classmates), we have one member who more or less pulled the disappearing act when she met her now husband.  What is even more silly (I think) about her disappearance  is that most of the people in our circle, which now feels like an extended family, are either in long term relationships (including one couple who has been together for about 7 years), and a married couple.  Everyone else is just dating but basically brings their SO of the moment to socialize with us when things are stable.  She is the only one who makes her husband’s needs and friend and family the number one priority in her life.  
      So not surprisingly, no one really makes 1:1 plans with her b/c she is notoriously flaky and will either be egregiously late (we’re talking 1-2 hours) or cancel at the last minute, or leave quickly (which can be awkward if you’ve met her for a meal), to do things like make his lunch, or keep him company b/c he’s at home alone.  They do things as a couple with his friends and family.  He does things with his own family and leaves her at home (they are both immigrants and the first Xmas holiday after they were married, he went home to visit his family and she spent the holidays alone in the US; she was rather pathetically reaching out to people for holiday plans but of course everyone was going home to their OWN families).
      And she is sometimes left out of group activities b/c of her habit of either declining or saying yes and not showing up.  
      It’s not THAT hard not to be that person.  It isn’t that hard to find balance.  I’ve had married friends who were pretty put out by other married people (and it seems to almost always be women) who dump all of their own friends to chase after their husband and his people.  One of my friends said that she didn’t want to be that person (and she is the longest married of any of my friends), and she also didn’t want to seem like a user who had to at some point come begging for help from anyone if she needed her friends after neglecting them.  
      The good news is that after they get over it, they’ll probably let you back in.  It’s a tough lesson learned but how could you know since as you said, you’d spent your entire married life (unhappily) married.  
      I mean, I think men always do guy stuff so it’s interesting how some women don’t even use that time for their own friends.  Or notice the imbalance if all of your couple’s activities are with his folks/friends.

  10. 10

    Evan I would never accuse you of being a smug married, far from it.  However, I, like many other single women, have experienced the disappearance and shrinking of one’s social circle that occurs when friends couple up.  Of course this is not true of everyone, and some of my most cherished friends are the ones that continue to invite me to dinner parties regardless of my marital/dating status.  They don’t care if their dinner party has an odd number of people.  But there are others who suddenly disappear once hubby/boyfriend is in the picture and you’re still single.  Let me tell you it hurts like hell to have a friendship end because one person has found happiness.  
    Like most women subscring to this blog, I too would love to be in a relationship, but I hope one of the things I’ll take away from my long stint as a singleton is to maintain a connection with single friends.  Sure my availability maybe less but that doesn’t mean they must cease to be a part of my life.  

  11. 11

    Married people and single people have different lives and priorities. I have been in both places. It is good to have balance and meet up with “the girls” or “the boys” on occasion because it gives you time to reconnect to that part of you that is currently in new roles: parents, spouse, at work, etc. Every married or coupled person needs time to be their own separate person (even if that is taking a class or a hobby of some kind, and a healthy hobby at that). I truly believe this is healthy.
    As I venture back into the dating world, I need to remind myself to not be as isolated as I was when I was married (chatter for another post). Likewise, balance between priorities, your love interest and other things which are important to you (going to the gym, religious outings, continuing your education, or whatever strikes your fancy) should not be forgotten. They make you special and help you relax, feed your brain, etc.
    Balance, balance, balance.  From my experience, as for those who are coupled and “smug” (which I can relate to though I would call it awkwardness from those particular folks 🙂 ) , “singledom” sometimes makes them uncomfortable.  Why? Maybe, these folks cannot imagine talking about stuff that is not couple related.  Some girl-halves of couples only like to be friends with those in a couple. But, that is totally 100% on them. I prefer to be friends who those who like me as I am, single or not 🙂

  12. 12

    Well said, Jeanne.

  13. 13
    Julie Mcgauley

    I say: “Beware the Tall Poppy Syndrome”
    Your awesome marriage is the EVidence of which you Preach!!!!!
    And to counteract a negative with a positive for ya! (Not that you need it:)  You have made a profound difference for me by providing an insightful yet compassionate male viewpoint as well as empower me  to go after what I want in order to have a more satisfying relationship resulting in an extremely fulfilled life.    Thank you.
    One of your millions of #1 fans,

    p.s. Why ARE they reading you’re stuff if they don’t like it, lol!
    just people addicted to negative thoughts and emotions…. Wanting     to spread their disease….. I feel sorry for them:(

  14. 14

    I don’t think EMK is the least bit smug for his dearly held believe that having a lifetime partner is better than being single.  While I grant you, a great many people are choosing to remain single these days, an awful lot of people still want to find that person to grow old with.  I was married for 12 years; though it was not a healthy, stable marriage, I think I would like to be married again, but I’m not always sure.  I still struggle with a lot of the issues that were issues in my marriage, i.e. emotional intimacy, ability to be vulnerable, etc.  It’s not that I don’t desire those abilities, but I haven’t overcome the emotional/mental blocks and really, I’m not quite sure how.  I keep following this blog because I have gained a great deal of helpful knowledge.   It remains to be seen if I will meet anyone.  Another hurdle I have not yet overcome is the feeling that I need to lose a significant amount of weight before I am datable.   Yes, there may be men that will date heavy women, but I don’t feel comfortable at this point putting myself out there again until I’ve accomplished that goal.  

  15. 15

    Women are so funny. Why do we think  we’re the special snowflakes who won’t have a failing marriage/relationship and suddenly find ourselves needing the friends we treated as irrelevant when we got serious with our partners? I’ve had to give one or two friends of my own a little wake up call when they got dumped and then tried to hop back into a friendship with me like nothing was wrong. Sorry. Not happening. Go find another man to revolve your life around. I don’t treat my friends like conveniences.
    I think many women might not realize until they find themselves not only single, but past the age of desirability to men that they’ve been doing something a little wrong their whole lives by neglecting their connections with other women. Women are a support and a resource to other women in a way that men never will be, even the good ones, yet we condition girls from a young age to see the romantic relationship as the only significant and relevant source of validation and connection. I hate to go off on a feminist tangent, but I think it has been another unfortunate consequence of historical patriarchy that women have been taken away from each other due to being bound to a man as property and servant.
    It’s telling that in cultures where monogamy and marriage is not a value, that the women have MORE emotional and social support because they never have to leave the women of their immediate and extended family who form their safety net.
    Read the book Sex at Dawn. 

  16. 16

    I have a slightly different perspective on this topic. I’ve had friends start relationships and ditch our friendship – calls go unreturned and attempts at meeting up never happen. That always hurts, and I definitely know it when I see it.
    But what I find equally frustrating? When  single friends expect everything to stay the same once someone begins a relationship. There are only 168 hours in the week. All relationships, romantic or otherwise, take time investment. Other life responsibilities like household errands, work and volunteering take up time too. So when someone says “she got a boyfriend and ditched me” I always wonder – did she *really* ditch you? Or do you see her 2x a month, and you were used to seeing her 4x month? Are you upset that you could see her at the drop of the hat, but now it takes  advance planning? I often worry that some people use “she ditched me when she got into a relationship” to mask (1) incredibly unrealistic expectations and (2) some emotional neediness. It become a convenient excuse they can use since most people will automatically believe and sympathize them.

    1. 16.1

      I do agree with you Lucia.
      When I got into a serious relationship, the first promising one I’d had in a while, my very good friend asked me on Wednesday for dinner on the Friday night. Just saying I’d get back to her was enough for her to launch into a lengthy tirade about how I always ditch my friends when I get a boyfriend. There was a time when I’d try to placate her and apologise that her feelings were hurt, but I’d had enough.  I finally had a bit of love and happiness in my life (and *still* made time to spend with her) and she pulls this manipulative nonsense?
      I told her that I intended to find love and get married one day, and that that was a priority for me, and that she needed to build a bridge. She sulked for a few days, then apologised. Ironically, or perhaps not so, when she got engaged, she stood me up for numerous plans to get together.

  17. 17

    I don’t think that married people as a whole are smug or judgmental (Just because you judge doesn’t mean you’re not ignorant, unsophisticated, or wrong). So, for full disclosure: As a class, married people haven’t done anything to me. However, I do recognize that I am a gregarious person, make friends easily, and let people go when we don’t evolve together. So eventually, even with friends, new loves send old ones to flight.
    Yet, in my mind married people should not feel entitled (Example: having friends they no longer invest quality time into).  Everything in this world is earned. If you don’t do the work you fail the class, If you don’t practice you’ve no shot at the Olympics, and If you’re being a shitty friend then don’t be surprised when those friendships end. A well-adjusted person understands that new life phases bring new priorities, however, that doesn’t mean old friends become old priorities.
    Evan, at the end of your post you indicate that single people should have more understanding. Depending on the single person, I agree. Be that as it may, what about the other way around? Don’t single people just have slightly different priorities? And are married/coupled peoples priorities objectively better than single peoples? Do you expect us to make time for you married/coupled people? How much do you think single people should “bend” to suit the needs of married/coupled friends while still keeping a strong friendship? I don’t think your post really addresses these questions. It’s all about you and the priorities of married/coupled people.This post seems to suggest that married/coupled people should have their single friends, but without having to put in as much work and understanding. Sorry, but you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

  18. 18

    I don’t find my married friends to be smug at all. I am 52 and find that women who are middle-aged and have been married for a while are more open to going out and doing things together.  Whereas some of my single friends are often so preoccupied with finding a husband that they treat me as a stopgap until they find a boyfriend. Older married women who have been married are fun to hang out with because their children are grown and although they are happily married (in most cases), they also realize the importance of maintaining their female friendships as one grows older. This is especially important because women tend to out live men. When I was married, I would try and maintain many of my female friendships, but had to end a few of them because my single friends started to act as though they were jealous because I had found a husband before they did. I did not change…they did.

  19. 19

    When I first split from my hubby of 23 years, most of  my married women friends were very kind and supportive of me, but a few of my married friends, although well meaning were rather condescending with their advice.  I noticed that those women had TERRIBLE marriages, so I just took it to be that they were projecting.
    So I don’t find too much smugness among married people, but the website, ATWYS, well I find that title “And that’s why you’re single” to be rather smug and condescending.
    To me, that is along the same lines as a blog giving advice to married couples facing challenges as “ATWYMS” standing for “And that’s why your marriage sucks”.

  20. 20

    Thinking about this I believe most of my friendships  have been “seasonal”.  We became friends because we had something in common. We lived in the same neighborhood. Or we worked for the same company. Or met through an organization we both participated in. The friendships might last for years, but gradually faded away when one of us moved, changed jobs. Nothing deliberate about it, rather as time went on we presumably? had less in common. Other friendships were developed through the new job, the new location. Single/partnered status never had anything to do with it.
    So I wonder, for the women who feel they were “dumped” as a friend when their friend got into a relationship, is it possible that what the two of you had most in common was being single at the same time?  How can you be sure the friendship would have endured if one of you moved to another city, state, area of the country?
    Most of the people I know currently are married/partnered. Most appear content. None ever appear smug to me. So I wonder if this sense of “smugness” some women are referring to might have to do with projection.  Or perhaps they are choosing friends who have this propensity anyway, with or without a man?
    I like what Michelle #3.1.1 wrote “– the more you “diversify” your relationship base, the least likely stress and problems are to rest on one unique shoulder..”.
     Useful advice whether one is married or single.

  21. 21

    I had a childhood friend who was emotionally supportive to me. we had a rocky patch and when she became pregnant I stopped talking to her. She became pregnant by tricking her bf and ‘trapped’ him. She told me all about it and I really couldn’t support her. It really didn’t sit well with me. Sometimes when a friend does something completely selfish like this you just can’t support them, even though its not affecting you directly. Despite this I missed her and asked to repair our friendship. Things were ok until I tried to help her out with a part time job, she was really unappreciative and was rude to me one day. Then said she didn’t need to apologise, said that she had more important things to do now she has a baby. Because she has a baby she doesn’t need me in her life. She doesn’t see why I’m useful to her anymore. It was very hurtful. Im not perfect but I apologised for anything I did to her in the past. My point is that she saw her baby as her whole purpose and dropped me one of her only friends. She used to whine on about the baby father drama and when I eventually said to her that she was being unfair to the baby father I think she realised that she had no one to moan to anymore, especially since I use to speak to her about my issues and had move forward. She didn’t see much use for her and me. Its sad because we were close friends for many years, despite our different lives I never wanted this to happen. But her baby was like a sign for her to say ‘thats it I’m out see you later’. She made this comment that she ‘ain’t got time to apologise to her friend’ for being a rude bitch. That kid gone crush under the weight of being her absolutely everything….sounds iwerd but seriously she has no job and no education. Sigh 

  22. 22

    I understand that people in relationships have a lot more going on in there lives. As a 43 yr old single person, I don’t understand why the married person can’t take the time to send an e-mail to just say hi. I have a friend, whenever she starts dating a man fades away.

  23. 23

    The way that worked for me is just like in dating: doing nothing (for some time), whether a friend found a guy or married or had a kid  or whatever. If there is mutual interest in keeping the relationship, we do meet up (even if not as often anymore), whereas with some of friends its always just making plans, yet they always cancel. So its all just learning to let go and… developing your skills in finding new friends.

    1. 24.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Paula – And single people need to pay attention as well: “It seems then that people look down on people with opposing relationship statuses as a way to feel better about their own. This kind of judgement is really a form of defensiveness. A person who has taken a different path in life can threaten our confidence in our own lifestyle, particularly if we feel that our own lifestyle is not easily changed.”

      Seems to me that there is as much defensiveness from single people as there is smugness from married people.

      1. 24.1.1

        I agree.  In addition, I find it quite interesting that the people who feel compelled to comment on this topic consist entirely of women, which is in stark contrast to other blog posts where many men opine. 
        Why is this?  Why aren’t men chiming in to complain that their buddies ditched them after they got married?  I can imagine that the reflexive response for many women is to claim that men don’t spend less time with their guy friends when they get married, but my friends have certainly done so.  However, I understand that they are extremely busy with their new responsibilities of being a husband and a father.  It has never bothered me that they aren’t available as much to do the things that we used to do when they weren’t married.  All that matters to me is that they are happy.
        Is it possible that these women are somewhat envious of their friends because they are no longer searching for their future husbands.  Is it because there is a part of these women that hates being single?  What I am getting at (if it isn’t obvious by now) is that I think this is an unfortunate consequence of the fact that many women do not enjoy the search for a partner.  I believe many women could benefit from making an effort to enjoy the search and by learning to stop seeing dates that don’t turn into relationships-and relationships that don’t turn into marriages-as failures.  They are not failures, by any stretch of the imagination.  They provide an opportunity to have fun, an opportunity to learn, and an opportunity to improve yourself.  The search can be quite fun, actually.

        1. Lau_ra

          Evan – of course the single people are quite defensive, as they are usually the ones who are being viewed negatively by the society, not the married ones. Its the singles who are always called egoists, questioned whether they are too picky, do they even think about their parents wanting grandchildren and the societies benefits, whether there is something else that is wrong with them and etc.
          Yet that doesn’t deny the married people being smug, as its usually the married ones who make assumptions about single peoples characters and throw insulting comments towards single people,  e.g. “that angry spinster should get laid some time”, not the other singles.
          I don’t really get this whole ” which ones are “more” something (defensive or smug)” discussion in general, as the fact is that neither singles or married ones can be assumed to be a certain way from a minute of gaining the certain status.
          Chance – I’m not the lamenter about my friends ditching me myself, as I make new friends easily and I’m comfortable with spending lots of time alone, yet I can see where this comes from. I don’t think that comes from hating being single. Its just that women tend to have more emotionally closer friendships than men and they are also more pressured to couple up by the society in general. So when a friend couples-up, especially if its at age over 30, when your pool of available friends tends to shrink very fast exactly because of marriages, babies, etc., many women feel like they’ve become outcasts at some point (seen as hopeless spinsters by the society, and with communication with friends that they knew for ages decreasing, some of those friends actually becoming smug towards their single friends).
          And on enjoying “the search” – oh, don’t tell me how men enjoy dating and how they go around taking the relationships that weren’t ment to be as an opportunity to learn. Sure, the more charismatic enjoy dating, as they usually have better opportunities at snatching a date, getting laid, evolving things further, if they want to, and whatnots. More ordinary men (who aren’t wealthy/good looking/very sociable) aren’t that cheerful (and I know that, because I talk to them) as they have to put more effort into improving themselves in more aspects, which is not that easy when you have your routines settled. Those men aren’t used to actually express their concerns aloud- they only admit that tete-a-tete.

        2. Julia

          Its probably because women rely on their emotional relationships with other women much more so than men do with their male friends. My married friends still very much rely on me for emotional support they just don’t seem to want to do the same for me.

        3. ildergreier

          It is exactly what Julia says…

  24. 25

    Men are socially conditioned to be the protector and hence do not seek help when they really do. they also are not conditioned to acknowledge publicly their own vulnerabilities.
    Anyways, the other issue I have noticed with married people is that they tend to only invite other couples and not their single friends. I’ve had a few people I know invite other couples (just one couple at a time usually) to their cottage. There is a certain social privilege to being married and I think most married people are not really aware of their smugness or whatever else you want to call it.
    Personally I focus on my own life and my goals and focus on being with people who are uplifting and positive. If people want to look down on me for being single even though I do want a long term relationship, that’s their business and I would rather focus on more productive things

  25. 26

    This conversation is very limited because it only talks about how friendships change when one friend gets married and the other doesn’t. This is hardly the biggest issue, though it is the most personal and shockingly painful when it happens to you. The issue is more serious when it comes to tax breaks and other financial advantages for marrieds, the way that singles are portrayed in the media (as spinsters, perverts, weirdos, unloveable, losers, etc.), and the way that politicians, academics, etc ignore singles in their policies and studies. This is changing though. Lots of good research coming out.

  26. 27

    Had to go there, but now am back.

    It is also the case that single people are expected to work the longer, less convenient hours while the married people, especially those with kids, get to go home or have remote access privileges. I have seen this so often that it surprises me when people are blind to it. I have one friend who tells me that all of the married people at her office get together on weekends for ballgames and such and never invite her, the only single in that office. That just seems nasty to me.

    I am actually a smug single, though, because most of the married people I know seem unhappy. These unhappy ones are also the sort who got married for status reasons or to solve some problem (e.g., being an underearning woman who wants to live a wealthy life). These unhappy marrieds are also very, very stuck. Would not want to be in a crummy marriage for all of the

    But it also seems that married women will be smug, whereas married men will be more
    judgmental. You know, married women who think they’re all that because they’re married and
    only seem to be able to talk about their husbands and kids, married men who think you’re a
    whore or available for an affair or desperate or crazy because you’re single. I’m a single woman, so my experience is different from a single man’s maybe. They get other weird stuff thrown at them, I understand–as in people thinking they’re promiscuous or available for all their single women friends. (I actually know a lot of fantastic single guys who have no interest in marriage. They seem way saner and happier than many of the married guys i know, who cheat and have misogynistic views and treat their wives like inferiors.)

  27. 28

    1. EMK I understand that you’re job involves empathy, kudos.  However, as a man the way you handle and view friendships is worlds apart from the way women handle friendships amongst themselves.  And unless you grow a vagina you won’t fully grasp it. 
    2. I have encountered my fair share of smug marrieds.  The experience revolves around flashing their ring in an attempt to make me feel jealous that they’ve moved “up” in life and I have not.  This has not been the experience with all my married friends, but with a fair share…..yes, it has been.  And yet,  I’m still the one that loyally joins their wedding party as a bridesmaid and hugs and wishes them the best.  Because I’m happy for them.  I don’t feel less than a married person and I don’t know if my ambivalence bothers them. 
    3.  I have had friends that DO dump me when the guy is in the picture.  It hurts.  But I’ve learned to expand my social circle so that when she calls to vent about her problems I can listen but don’t expect to meet up or anything.  I have other friends that I go and hang out with and if she calls, then ok. If not, life goes on.  I’ve had to learn to become like this because being pushed aside so that some guy can become the center of my friend’s world was hurting my feelings.  I understand that people have different priorities at different times but still.  It hurts because when I have problems I have to figure things out on my own without that friend to vent to and share things with……because she’s busy with her relationship.  But when the tables are turned I’m the one that is always available… it doesn’t feel very fair. 

  28. 29

    I find that married people are rather exclusive – i.e. they will not invite single people around and you’re dumped because usually, the wife is nervous about me seducing her husband (with one exception in my circle). 
    If someone is thinking this is wrong, I question it because some married women are already telling me they hope that their husbands will be all right, because they dread being left out of the social circle.  (ie of married couples).
    It is sometimes lonely being single.  That’s why most women on this dating site (and maybe the men too) are trying to find someone.  You don’t go out to find someone because you are lonely – but it certainly helps to have someone to make love with, go out with and enjoy holidays with.
    Now all we have to do is find them.

  29. 30

    A few basic truths:
    1) Everyone feels lonely at times, whether partnered up or not. The only time this feeling of loneliness is pathologized is when the person is single. Married people are not allowed to admit that they feel lonely at times, however, which seems like the real pathology.
    2) many people actually love living single. These same people may also want to marry at  some point. These are not mutually exclusive states of being.
    3) when people say they want to marry, they want THEIR idea of a marriage. Not yours, not mine, not their mother’s, not any guru’s or media’s. Let’s not assume that we know what other people mean by that. Marriage does not mean a house in the suburbs + 2 kids for everyone. It does not mean till death do us part for everyone.  A lot of people say they want it but have no clear idea if what they want specifically. A lot of people would be completely miserable if they got the marriage they supposedly want. 

    1. 30.1
      Heather L.

      Yves, you are so right!  Nobody knows the reality of marriage until they try it.  Even mature, well suited couples who have enjoyed a long and happy courtship, get the shock of their lives when they get married.  Suddenly they feel stiffled, controlled and trapped.

      It’s the same when people have children.  Nobody ever says, “It’s so much easier than I thought it would be.”

      I used to believe in marriage–until I got married.  Now, I believe in being single and free.

      I’m lonely and miserable but less so than when I was married!

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