If you look around a networking event, a wedding or any other party, you'll notice the singles and the couples are segregated.
It's not that the two groups dislike each other, but it seems they can no longer relate to one another. Couples act like their memory of single life was completely wiped away when they found their bashert. Are they trying to forget how much fun being single was or how unbearably depressing it can get? Are they reminiscing over the excitement of meeting someone new, or are they recalling the loneliness of seeing the same faces over and over again?
Singles have a hard time understanding the desire to go home from a party this side of midnight, while couples no longer comprehend wanting to stay up all night drinking, dancing and flirting. Couples act like being single is a disease, while singles often yearn to meet someone so badly they're too jealous to interact with other couples.
The only thing good about the separation of couples and singles is that singles have an easier time telling whom not to bother hitting on. Events targeted to singles take some pressure off when it comes to wondering who is available, while also applying pressure simply by calling it a "singles event." By signing up and attending a singles event, you are admitting you are so single and so on the market that you have stooped to the desperate level of going to an actual meat market. I suppose that's better than spending all night talking to a guy at a mixer just to find out that he has a girlfriend. But happy hours that purposely market to both singles and couples are kidding themselves: Call it either a singles event or a happy hour, but saying that singles and couples alike are welcome is inviting awkwardness.
My best friend got married young and didn't have to subject herself to the normal Jewish dating experiences. She gets a hoot from hearing my dating stories and says she's living vicariously through me. I know I should be flattered, but honestly I'd be happy to change places with her if it meant never again getting hit on by guys who are old enough to be my dad (and are, in fact, the fathers of my friends).
My problem with couples is the way they become clique-y once they partner up. They act like having a significant other means they've joined an exclusive club into which singles are not allowed. Some of my couple friends decided to take pity on me and invited me to game night. The rest of the invitees included four other couples and my good friend Julie. Julie is one of my best friends, but she and I are not a couple, and inviting us to a couples' game night together because we're their two single friends is insulting. I know the hosts weren't being malicious or trying to offend either of us, but it just gets old.
Worse yet, the next time around, they invited the only single Jewish guy they claimed to know and had him attend game night as my partner. Talk about awkward. We were forced to team up even though we had never met and probably wouldn't have chemistry, either in guessing games or in love. Looking back, I think maybe my friends were just trying to increase their chances of winning game night.
I don't understand why a new phase in life means forgetting about the people who were there for you before. It's understandable that the friendship will change, but to dismiss it completely is incomprehensible. On the one hand, I'm happy to stay single - and suffer through couples' game nights - for as long as it takes to meet my bashert. I refuse to settle and possibly become another statistic in the heightened divorce rate.
I've learned that when I do become part of a couple, I won't forget what it was like to be out there dating. I won't act like my single friends have the plague or that I'm better than they are because I don't have to be out there anymore searching. I won't stop relating to them or wanting to hang out with them. I won't pity them or subject them to being a third wheel.
What I will do is continue to organize and partake in a girls' night out, and I will continue to impart wisdom when asked (and even when not asked), and I will continue to remember how frustrating it is to be single and how exasperating it is to date, and I will continue to spend quality time with my single friends.
I will also give my single friends a reality check and let them know that dating and being in a relationship is also hard work, and also has its ups and downs, and can also be frustrating and isn't always fun and games.
Now I just need to find my bashert so I can finally win at charades.