I think I’ve mentioned before how I was once part of several singles groups and how these groups can sometimes develop strange dynamics. The key was understanding the “politics” of them:

-those who make “friends” strictly as an opportunity to date those within the circle -those who genuinely want friends -those who just want folks to kill time with until they find someone and then they can disappear -those who want an entertainment/activity circle

So I’ve been thinking a lot about when a singles group can reach a tipping point to where it might be better to move on from that group. This is a fairly common occurrence as most folks only tend to last 3 years in a singles group before moving on for one reason or another (if for no other reason than they are tired of “singles groups” and move on to explore the rest of what life has to offer).

The fact of the matter is that part of the dynamic of the singles group is that unless it is continually renewed with, let’s call it what it is, fresh meat, they eventually implode. Close and constant proximity can cause feelings to occur even when, on paper, you wouldn’t ordinarily find yourself attracted to that person. Rinse, lather, repeat, and sooner or later, most of the group has gone through the round robin of dating one another. If all went well, the group can settle into being friends. However, things rarely go well and sometimes the very process of round robin dating tears the group apart.

Sometimes the group is TOO up in your Kool Aid. There’s a fine line between a protective circle of friends and a bunch of nosey busy-bodies. The difference will lie in the type of individual relationships you may have with the folks in the group. My friends have a lot more latitude to speak into my life. A group of acquaintances, despite the frequency of us hanging out, does not. (Though I try to not be too hasty in dismissing their opinions outright just because we may not like their conclusions. Sometimes friends, because they aren’t so personally invested, can see things that you can’t.)

In my ideal single’s group, there would be married couples in there to act as mentors of a sort. One, for an example of the type of relationship the singles (think) they want, if only to take the romantic notions off of marriage to replace them with realistic ones. Two, to set the example of not ditching your friends after you get married. Three, to give the benefit of their experience. A friend of mine recently found herself in a dating dilemma which threw her singles group into a tizzy. It was a single’s group mostly her age, with largely her level of experience in life. She posed the same dilemma to another set of friends, most of whom were married and had dated to much greater extremes and experience (read: severe consequences) and the perspective was entirely different.

There are other times when the community you are in may not be the best fit for you. Communities change over time. If teh interwebz have taught us nothing it’s that it only takes one or two personalities (read: trolls) to poison a group if they are left unchecked. If you find you don’t have deepening relationships, but instead everything remains on a very surface level, you may want to move on (unless that’s what you want). While all close circles of friends have “gossip” issues because they talk to each other about each other, such behavior can turn negative. In fact, it doesn’t take too much for a once loving community to become a bullying, excluding clique.

In the end, singles groups are like any other community: you have to decide if it is helpful to you or has become toxic. If nothing else, how the group continues to reach out to people, how it loves, how it forgives, how it handles crises, and how it repairs damaged relationships tells a lot about the group. I began quoting from one previous blog, so I’ll end with another:

Take a look at your current circle of friends. There’s a good chance that a year from now, maybe two, the complexion of your circle of friends will be different. People whom you shared intimate secrets with one day drift (or storm) out of your life. People fight. Misunderstandings occur. Trust is betrayed. People move, switch social circles, life, circumstances, what have you – you wake up one day and realize that some folks aren’t as close to you or aren’t as much a part of your world as they used to be. There is a natural ebb and flow to relationships.

Luckily, friendships renew themselves. Cherish the friends in your life right now.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.