It’s the Wedding Season! And What if you are Single?
Several bridal parties stepped onto the Kinzie Bridge (a popular spot in Chicago for wedding photographs) in succession last Saturday afternoon, unofficially signaling the start of the wedding season. We watched as the bride, grooms, and attendants were photographed, while passengers on the tourboats approaching the bridge, clapped and whistled. We were captivated by the procession and wondered if our fascination was related to the lavish dresses and theatre, or the intoxicating and mythic aspects of the event- that these “in love” couples were stepping over the threshold into the’ happily ever after” dream of true love, commitment, and fulfillment.
If you are single and planning to attend some of these celebrations, you may want to prepare yourself so you can relax and enjoy yourself. If you are single and actively looking for a romantic partner, you may feel alot of pressure and longing to meet someone; if you are single and between romantic relationships or struggling with one, the "romance" of the ocassion can highlight your frustration and discouragement. And if you are single and happy with where you are relationally, you may be bracing for comments and questions about your dating/marital status.
You can start the process of grounding yourself by looking realistically at the “happily ever after” fantasy.Dr. DePaulo’s article , Single and Happy: It's the norm, not the exception!" discusses research that has examined what actually happens to levels ofperceived happiness for married people during and after the wedding as well as single people through adulthood. And in this months Special Feature Article, Single Women Over Forty; Create the Good Life, Dr. Kay Trimberger suggests, based on her empirical research on single women over forty, that in order to be fulfilled, one needs to develop “Six Pillars” that are the foundations that supports a satisfying life, whether one is single, single and looking for partnership, or married. Finally, what has love got to do with marriage anyway? In her article, Bigger Broader Meanings of Love and Romance, Dr. DePaulo takes a broader look at passion and love, and how they can occur in the lives of both single and married people.
It's important to
appreciate that you are not alone if you experience some discomfort and self consciousness at a wedding. Many singles (and marrieds) often reflect on the status of their life, their relationships, and where they hoped to be.In "Another June...", Dr. Karen Gail Lewis describes how women who are unmarried will frequently begin to wonder if something is wrong with them that they're not married, or begin to feel that their life is missing an essential ingredient for fulfillment and happiness.
Other reactions to weddings may remain unacknowledged due to
shame or guilt. Let’s imagine that Aunt Sally has just approached us, and is asking, “So how are you?” What are some the feelings we might share if we were REALLY to answer honestly…
Actually, (and I feel childish saying this), all I can think about is that Jane (the bride) and I are not going to be as close...she has Jim, but I’m losing my best friend.”
Actually,(and I worry I sound like a whiner) I’m wondering how I am going to pay my credit card. Several friends are getting married this summer, and between dresses, wedding and shower gifts, and travel, I am out BIG money! And what’s weird, is that they will have two incomes and now gifts to stock their home, while I have one income (minus money for weddings) and no gifts to furnish my new condo!
Actually (and I feel like a bad person and friend forsaying this), I’m envious- why isn't it me? And how can my friends "deserve" to meet the "right" person, when I have been doing all the right things and still haven't met the right one.
Actually, (and I feel like an idiot admitting this), I’ve been worried for the past week, am I going to be one of the only single people there…how conspicuous is that?And where I am going to sit? With the other singles? As an “odd one out” at a table for couples? And I’m dreading having to line up to catch the bouquet!!! -Actually, (and I hate to share this because I don’t want to be a “downer”) I’ve just broken up with someone (again). I’m feeling sorry for myself, discouraged, and very lonely being here.
Actually, (and I feel like an ingrate saying this), here I am one of the single guys, and am I going to have to dance with every eligible woman and then give a charming laugh when the tenth person me when I am I going to give up the joy of bachelorhood (which actually I am sick of) and tie the knot?
A smart way to approach the occasion (wedding, shower, etc)is by accepting yourself and your feelings. Judging oneself as “childish”, “whining,” “an idiot” or “a downer”, just ends up intensifying ones feelings of isolation. Shame and guilt contribute to feeling different and alone. If you accept your feelings as understandable (and devise a plan for sharing them with a friend, if things get tough), you've completed two important steps in preparing for any upcoming nuptials! You can read more about Emotional Pitfalls and how to prepare your own Toolbox for a Rainy Day. And if you are open to love and hoping to meet a romantic possibility, you may want to review Dating and Romance.
In fact, accepting yourself and your feelings, taking care of yourself, and developing a more grounded understanding of the “happy every after” fantasy, can allow you to be more present for the fun that weddings can be.
So when Aunt Sally asks “How are you?” you may be more genuinely prepared to say…
-Actually, I’m having a great time, because I can really appreciate the magic of this evening without having had to endure all the agony and deliberation dealing with guest lists, caterers, timelines, and preparation!
-Actually, I’m really having a good time. It would be fun if I met someone here tonight, but even if I don't, the fact is that I am enjoying life a lot right now…I have started a book group, and although work has been challenging, I have found some time to spend on an environmental awareness project…this doesn’t leave me much time to hang out, but I do love my apartment and enjoy cooking…you’ll have to come over!
I have several friends who have been or are getting married. It sometimes feels like, here we go again- another round of parties and celebrations for my old gang breaking up and reorganizing, and meanwhile I have to be "up." I found it helpful to create a plan to take care of myself before I go... first, I love planning to look great- so I take time to wear something I feel good in. And then I have arranged with a friend (who understands my feelings) that I can call her if I'm melting down. Finally, I have an excape plan- I give myself permission to leave early if I chose to (and know in advance how I am going to do it). Once I actually get to the shower or wedding, I generally have not had to exercise these options, but it helps alot to know they are there. SJ