It was 2003 and I had no friends.
My friends would disagree with this statement but this is how I felt as the first person to get married in my squad (friendship group).
Being a newlywed can feel incredibly lonely.
At first, it was fun! My friends rolled up their sleeves and helped me plan a beautiful wedding! We had so much fun picking out dresses, planning the bridal shower and enjoying the bachelorette party. Frankly, I felt like a rock star. Everyone seemed to be excited for me. There were so many special moments that I had shared with my friends leading up to my wedding... and then... I got married.
The spontaneous adventures with my friends became less frequent. I was still invited to birthday dinners and special occasions, but those last minute calls to "go to a movie" or "out to do some shopping" were rare. My husband and I moved an hour and a half away from the majority of my friends. All "get together's" had to be scheduled well in advance. A new job brought a new schedule with less flexibility. We also were newly married and very broke. At a rapid pace, I was becoming the odd man out within our little friendship circle.
It seemed like my friends and I lived in two different universes: Married and Not Married.
I tried to make friends with the wives of married couples that went to our church. Most of these wonderful people were 5+ years older than me and I felt like I was the young "newbie" they had to mentor. They were kind and welcoming but it was hard to relate to them. Some of them were starting to have kids and buy their first home. I felt like I was several steps behind them in the game of life.
My loneliness became glaringly apparent to me on our very first New Year's Eve married. We had not been invited to any parties. Not one. My non-married friends had assumed I was celebrating with new friends in our new location. Our "quasi-new" married friends assumed we would be celebrating with our non-married friends. It was an innocent misunderstanding but I was heart broken.
"I have no friends, " I cried to my husband, "and I don't understand why."
My husband would scratch his head and try to find ways to help me feel more connected but it was a lost cause. I was pining away for what "used to be" with my old friends... and I was finding it awkward to start over and make new friends as a newlywed.
Finally, after several months (and many tears) I decided to do something.
I started to host a yearly get together with my "old friends".
This was a weekend getaway where we would simply gather together to eat and chat for three days solid. As it turned out, life began to change for many of us within our friendship group. Some moved far away for jobs. Other friends got married and started families. We all became busy in our new lives and we found it difficult to keep our friendship "as it was". This yearly get together was a way we could stay in touch without the pressure of trying to stay in touch all the time.
I also made a decision to not get so caught up in having "married friends". It was more important that I had "local" friends that I could connect with.
I put myself out there and invited potential new friends out to lunch or over for a dinner. I made an effort to get to know people where I was working. I also made a conscious decision to be a person who is willing to start a conversation. When I wanted to get to know someone, I made the first move.
It wasn't always easy, but after time, I found a new tribe of local folk I could call "my friends". I realized that the problem was not so much that I was a newlywed but rather that I was in a "new" season. It wasn't until I accepted this "new" season that I was able to accept how my current friendships would take shape.
This is normal.
If you are a newlywed feeling alone in this new season of your life, please know that you are not a freak! Many of us have felt like you have. Many of us know what it means to feel like you have no friends. But you do...and you can.
Take the first step and find a way to connect with your friends.
Set up weekly Facetime chats with your friends or schedule a standing monthly dinner where you and your friends can get together. Whatever you do, make the first move.
Take some risks too.
Invite your coworker (the one who seems to love all the same TV shows as you) out for coffee. Make some cupcakes for your neighbor and strike up a conversation. There are many ways to get to know people, but again, you may have to be the one who takes the first step.
Fast forward, 14 years later... and I can say that no matter what season of life I am in... I have friends. It looks different in every season... but I am not alone. You don't have to be either.