By now you've grown tired of being labeled "the single one," but you don't want to lose your friends just because they're dating or married. When I started college, it seemed like I was the only one not in a relationship. I learned about the awesome power of the girls' night out -- and the basic rules of maintaining friendships with my friends who had entered into relationships. Beyond respecting the time they wanted to spend with significant others, I increased my own communicative efforts to keep the friendships strong.
Initiate opportunities to hang out
Formal dinners and other group date hangout settings can prove difficult. Instead of declining invitations to hang out and lamenting your own loneliness, initiate the hang-out sessions. Pick some neutral activities that everyone enjoys, such as game night or bowling. By taking initiative and planning things your way, you take control of the situation and avoid awkwardness.
I loved informal meals in the college cafeteria because everyone could sit together in a big group. It didn't seem to matter if it was single me and a bunch of couples -- we were chowing as a group.
Facebook is your friend
When you're initiating activities, don't forget Facebook and associated social media etiquette. Facebook can be your best friend when you're wondering if you're the last single person left (peruse your list, and you're bound to find a few friends in the same boat). It's also a decent way to keep in touch with friends who are otherwise occupied with new marriages or babies because it lets them respond on their own time.
If they're not responding to phone calls and Facebook invites, it's time to move on and find friends who appreciate you regardless of your marital status. This inclusiveness goes both ways -- when I create Facebook events and invite single friends, I always let them know that it's OK to bring a guest or hang solo.
Everyone is a potential 'plus one'
Let's face it -- some social situations are just more bearable (and socially acceptable) with a date. It's perfectly acceptable to bring a friend to most social occasions, whether it's an informal gathering or a black tie wedding.
If the host invites you to an informal event and you'd like to bring a friend, it's acceptable to ask. If you truly feel uncomfortable sitting at a singles' table during a wedding reception and the invitation doesn't indicate an RSVP for a guest, don't feel guilty for declining -- just be up front with the couple if they ask. There's no shame in being single.
Avoid creating drama
I love to act as matchmaker and confidante, helping my friends navigate the difficulties of single life and relationships. However, if my single friends can do nothing but lament their single status, it's a drag.
If you're the single person, avoid making yourself the center of attention just because you're solo. If you create drama, it doesn't matter whether you're single or not -- people will avoid you because you start trouble.
Ask for help
If you're not happy about your single status, ask for help. I adore helping my single friends pair up, but I try not to do it unless they express interest in dating someone. Even the best matchmakers have gotten reprimanded for messing with someone else's business, so you need to be assertive if you want help.
More from Tara M. Clapper: