The Guest List (and how to get on it)
A freshly single mom friend of mine recently sang the blues about not getting invited to any Christmas parties. "Last year, when I was still part of a couple, I got invited to several parties from friends in my social network", she said, "but this year the invites have disappeared." I gave her a hug and welcomed her to her new reality.
The sad (and boring) fact is, most couples hang out with other couples and don’t generally invite singles into their circle of dinner parties and couple get togethers. When you go from being one to the other, the member of the now broken up couple who was the original connection generally stays in a more active friendship with the one member of the still together couple they first knew. Translation: women stay friends with the wife and for the most part see her in female only groups – not couples.
I know, because I’ve been there. Many years ago, after I got divorced I realized that while I still saw my married girlfriends regularly, I rarely saw the husbands. It dawned on me that they were still having those get-togethers, but now I no longer fit the bill. There was suddenly an awkwardness that didn’t exist before and I felt left out.
It took years, but I figured out how to a) get over it and b) get back on the lists I wanted to be on. If you’re finding yourself in this situation this holiday season, don’t fret. Here’s what to do:
* Make you own fun. There are a great many benefits to being single and one of them can be a rich social life. But it won’t fall in your lap. You have to create it yourself, manage it and accept that it will be different than before. Trust me, that can be a good thing. Reach out to singles you know and/or coupled friends and organize a night out or weekend brunch. A small, inexpensive get together can become a Christmas event if that’s how you label and celebrate it.
* Entertain. This one is very important. If you invite your coupled friends over (along with a sprinkling of your cool new, eclectic group of singles) for a gorgeous meal, you will soon get back on their list. They will remember how fabulous you are and that you are still you. Plus they will owe you. Entertaining works that way. Maybe you’ve moved into a smaller place for one, but if you want to be invited then you have to invite.
There are so many ways to do this. You can go big or go small. I recommend the holiday lunch, especially on a Sunday. People can drop by between Christmas errands and it’s more relaxed and less of a commitment than an evening event. Or you can invite people over to watch a football game during the holiday season or for cocktails and canapés. You just might want to make it an annual.
* Communicate. Tell your coupled friends that you want to be included! Remind them that the best parties are the ones that are attended by an assortment of people from different walks of life.
* Remember, things change. I love this one. Those smug marrieds who aren’t inviting you on those awesome couples trips and dinner parties? Consider the divorce rate. Things change and so will the dynamics of your social network.
* Don’t take it personally. The reality is, when you suddenly become single a lot of people put you in a different category. It’s probably not about you. And at the end of the day, I do believe that being left out every once in awhile is healthy. You’ll figure out pretty quickly that you’re not missing much. Where’s the party? It’s wherever you are.