I’ll be the first to admit that romance and friendship comprise about 75% of my brain’s real estate. But until a few days ago, I didn’t realize those two things were connected.
My best friends and I have lived together since our freshman year of college, and during that time, we’ve seen each other through dozens of relationships, hundreds of dates, and enough weird hookups that I’ve repressed most of them. We dispersed after graduation to exotic places like Spain, Tel Aviv and Cincinnati. But while most of my friends moved to cities where they knew next to no one, a lucky few of us landed in Chicago.
We now live together. And also, we’re the only ones in the group who aren’t in serious relationships.
After this reality dawned on us, my roommates and I had a requisite “WHY US?!” moment. But after about five seconds of melodrama, both sides of the situation became clear. We have a fun and incredible support system that operates just like a family, but could the group mentality we hold so dear be keeping us from seeking romantic relationships?
The short answer? Probably. And based on several Gchats with my on-call focus group of 24-28 year old friends, I’ve decided this phenomenon is actually a real thing. Here’s why:
1. Strength (and Anxiety) in Numbers
It’s a pretty known fact that guys feel weird approaching a girl who’s talking to more than one other person in public. Big groups of strangers are terrifying, and no one wants to be the creep at the bar who interrupts you and your six girlfriends to be like, “Could one of you fine ladies recommend a late-night taco spot nearby?” (Actually, who am I kidding? That would be everything).
A lot of girls go out in groups comparable in size to an all-female S Club 7, and as such, the groups usually socialize among themselves – sometimes while literally crouching in a corner. Most of the brave souls who attempt to talk to us are met with eye-rolls, scoffs, and audible mumbles of “um, yikes” if they’re lucky. Not exactly inviting.
2. Never Underestimate the Power of FOMO
Have you ever noticed that when one of your friends starts up a relationship, it’s only a matter of time before the rest start pairing off? It’s pretty easy to be on the same page as your friends, especially during a life stage that doesn’t set clear boundaries for when we’re supposed to accomplish anything (cue obligatory twenty-something rant; society is so confusing!).
If you’re living on your own, chances are you’re more in tune with your basic needs. You know when you’re lonely, you know when you’re ready to meet someone new. But when your life intertwines seamlessly (and sometimes unavoidably) with that of your roommates, you’re often more conscious about what’s best “for the group” than what’s healthy for yourself. And if going out until 4 AM seems to be the move, then why not go with it?
3. Comfortable Codependence
One of the best parts of being in a relationship – save for anything that includes the words “sex” and “cuddling” – is the ability to tell someone about your triumphs, failures, and all the boring parts of your daily existence that no one else cares about.
But when you come home every day to a group of people who offer the same kind of support, the only things missing are the sex and cuddling. Not to say friendships and romantic relationships are remotely the same, but when you don’t have time to feel lonely, you forget all about the sense of urgency that comes with craving human connection.
The silver lining to a tight-knit group of friends is that you probably won’t seek out a partner just to fill the companionship void. If you live with four other people and you’re happy as a clam, then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing! Just be careful not to let the Groupthink set the agenda for your life indefinitely – unless you want to remain single and part of a tight clan of women well past your early twenties. If you don’t, it might be worth breaking away from your friends the next time a guy at the bar asks for your best taco recommendation.