The myth of the smug married friend

I was single for a solid 27 years before I was ready to meet the right guy and then later get married. For a while the majority of my friends were also single and we shared the good and the bad of being on our own and embracing life as free agents. When those same friends got married my relationship with them changed, sure, but never once was I made to feel inferior because they were in a serious relationship and I wasn’t. Honestly, it was pretty great to see my friends happy and so in love, which gave me hope.

As a very new newlywed I read various articles online warning about the “smug marrieds,” thinking maybe there was a list of behaviors I should note and avoid like the plague. Are married women smug? Is that a thing? Is it inevitable that both groups secretly dislike each other simply because of their relationship status?

Maybe some people are smug about their relationships, but I don’t know anyone them. Rather, it seems to me like another gendered stereotype (think “spinster”) that’s both outdated and inaccurate, designed to pit women against each other and value marriage above all else.

Friendship is still as important to me as ever, and my group of friends is wide-ranging. I have friends who are happily single and happily married. Oh, and I also have friends who have kids. As women, we are always evolving and changing, whether it be chasing the career of your dreams, marrying your best friend, working on your nursery to welcome in a little one or planning that trip to Vegas now that you’re retired. Who says we can’t all be supportive and happy for each other during every season of life?

I think we can, and often we are. The divide between “single” and “married” is a fake one. For too long in history, women who were unmarried were thought of as burdens, as weirdos, as somehow defective. But we all know that’s not the case. You aren’t defined by the relationships you’re in.

And of course, I don’t base my friendships on relationship or marital status. Being in a relationship hasn’t given me some sort of amnesia about being single, nor has, I hope, my new role of wife made it impossible for my friends to stomach hearing about what’s new with me.

No matter what box you check off to describe your status: single, married, divorced, widowed, or “it’s complicated,” that alone does not define you. Sometimes being single is awesome, and sometimes it’s not. I’d say the same is true for marriage. I have never been happier than I am today, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love my single days. We’ve got to embrace where we are today, in this moment.

Let’s stop telling ourselves we can’t relate to that friend anymore because we’re in “different phases.” Friends are friends, no matter what their relationship status may be.

(Image via NBC)


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