How to ensure your single friends don't feel like a third wheel in your married life

Friends who are single adults may be divorced, separated, widowed or never married. Six ways to support your single friends in their lives, and let them enrich yours.

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  • Throughout the years, I’ve had several single friends. Whether unmarried, divorced or widowed, single adults have a lot to offer. My single friends help me to be a better parent, show love toward my children and are always up for adventure. I want to encourage them in their lives and show them gratitude for their contribution to mine. These six ideas help me support my single friends.

  • Gain perspective

  • Not every single person wants to be married. Other singles are not happy being alone. Try to understand your friends’ points-of-view. Be careful not to make judgments or say things that might be hurtful. If you’ve never been divorced or widowed, you don’t know how that feels. Observing, listening and developing empathy are all important.

  • Include them in your family

  • Many single people enjoy being included in family events. I have a dear friend who is separated from her husband. She likes to come to our home for dinner and attend events with us. Another single friend who would like to have children enjoyed babysitting mine when they were younger. I was always grateful for her offers, and made sure not to take advantage of her generosity. Holidays can be lonely for single friends with family far away. Invite friends to participate in your celebrations, then make sure they feel loved and included.

  • Show interest in their interests

  • Your single friends might not have children, but they have other things they are interested in. My friend loves her dogs. We meet her at the park to play with them, and she recruits my older children to help with walks and baths. Another friend sings in a choir. She lives too far away for me to attend a performance, but I ask about her concerts and encourage her to continue something she enjoys. When another friend suddenly became a widower, my husband and I would visit him and talk about music and movies, two things he enjoys. Good friends are interested in each other’s lives.

  • Listen without advising

  • Sometimes being single comes unexpectedly, like in the case of divorce or death. Other times single people go through break-ups or periods of time where they feel frustrated they haven’t found someone to share their lives with. Just like any friends, single friends need good listeners. Be that person for your friends, but be careful of giving advice. Since I’ve never been divorced, I don’t feel qualified to talk about that subject much. I try to respect my friends’ privacy and feelings as I help them through difficult times. It’s easiest to do this by just being a good listener.

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  • Do activities together

  • Your single friends probably don’t want to hang out with you and your kids all the time, so find things to do together outside of both of your family lives. I like to go to lunch or on hikes with one of my close single friends. We both enjoy time outdoors and away from home. Other activity ideas include taking a class together, going to a cultural event and planning a day trip to explore somewhere new.

  • Be a true friend

  • As in any friendship, being loyal and true is important. Single friends might need extra love and support from time to time, and you’ll also find they have a lot of love to give. Don’t share personal information given in confidence, and make sure to find time to spend with your single friends.

  • Be supportive of your single friends and you’ll find they make your life more meaningful and fun.

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Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.

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