A New Stage of Social Need

Conversation from the weekend:

“…So, do you plan to move to [small OOT community] after you graduate?”

“Well, there isn’t a whole lot of social life for someone my age around there.”

[Thoughtful pause] “That’s true… Well, once you’re married you can bring him with you.”

So, I have puzzled over this for a bit and come up with a couple of explanations.

The first: After you’re married you no longer need friends your own age, stage, and gender. Either this is because you have a spouse, and who needs more friendship than that? Or it’s because you are initiated into the Married People Club, and can hang out with the hitched without embarrassment or boredom, no matter how much older than you they might be.

The second: the only purpose of having a social life is to meet people and get married, so once you’ve found your mate you don’t need a large group of (single) friends any more.

Now, I am not one to snort or glare over this go-anywhere-once-married assumption, as I’ve made it several times myself. But it sounded stranger this weekend for some reason and left me musing. Granted, we know, married people don’t hang out with singles as much, since their schedules are more constrained. They don’t rush off on last minute outings or do overnight parties or all-night IMing.

So – what does happen to their social life? Especially if they move off to [small OOT community]? Anyone know?


22 thoughts on “A New Stage of Social Need

  1. They take wonderful jobs in LA or Silicon Valley and accrue mindboggling sums of frequent flier miles finding spouses on the weekends– And no one ever returns to NYC

  2. Once married (and likely before), you definitely do not need friends to be your own age or even particularly close to it. Stage of life matters more if you need people with which to commiserate, though even then that allows for huge differences in age.

  3. i think they go to the nearest Wawa, five miles down the (dirt) road.

    i dunno, most of my married friends still play with me. they IM and come for shabbos meals. we buy groceries for each other and lend flour and sugar and eggs back and forth. i’m not the sole initiator of contact, though i do babysit when asked. and my schedule is generally more constrained than theirs. it’s really all about the attitude- being married doesn’t necessarily mean they stop making an effort to keep their friends. if they’re smart, and i try to be friends with smart people.

    and, if they disappear, so do i. case in point- last week, at a wedding, i ran into the parents of a disappeared NMF who’d moved OOT. she’d sent one mass email since her marriage 1.5 years ago, and had generally been unreachable since they’d started dating a year before that. i asked after her and received a level of detail due someone who’s a little better in touch with her. i told her mother that no one had heard from her in about a year, and, while we know she can’t handle stress, if she ignores us, we ignore her back. life goes on.

  4. To be honest, a nice amount of my married friends – even ones who have moved off to different geographical locations, have not disappeared. We are still in touch, still see each other (okay, not as much as before, but that’s mostly because they don’t live here anymore), etc. Of course you still need your friends once you’re married, but maybe you don’t feel the need to be in the center of Jewish Young Adult Social Society. Like, you can still have friends and not live in NYC (all Burroughs included). But I don’t know – I’m not actually married. All I know is, everyone says married friends disappear, but the friends who I was actually really close with before they got married – they didn’t disappear, even though they live far away.

  5. I never understood that whole “where thou goest I follow” sort of thing with spouses. If I have to be dependent on a husband for all forms of entertainment, he’ll be writing to the local paper’s life coach under the name “Going Crazy.”

    I would like to live near my family, so anytime someone rheds someone from OOT or OOC (Out Of the Country), while I don’t say no, I get jittery.

    Never mind friends. What about my STORES? Nowhere has shopping like NY and NJ! I’d be an underdressed shell of my former self!

  6. really what she meant to say was that there is nothing going on socially there insofar as shidduchim is concerned. on the other hand she has plenty of friends and family there etc. therefore once she is married, she will be able to move back there. not so complicated i think

  7. I think the point is that once you are married, you have more options regarding where to live, because there is no more need to be close to a area with a thriving single population. It’s just a fact of life. Another one is that once you have children of school age, you need to live close enough to be able to get to a yeshiva for your kids. Etc.

  8. I have heard from numerous friends that having that thriving population of single friends is rather unimportant once you get married. Social time becomes more of a couple thing, and hence married couples double date, go to each other for shabbos etc. Regarding going out of town, it seems that with the primary social interactions occurring with your spouse, it would be less significant to have friends your own age (so says a younger rebbetzin in town who is good friends with my mother, even though there is a good 20+ year age gap). Having never experienced this myself, though I certainly will one day, I can imagine there is some level of “loss” of not being near one’s friends, but I imagine that being married makes up for it a good bit.

  9. being a young rabbinic couple anywhere means you all but give up true socializing until/unless you’re about the same age as your baalebatim, and if you’re not that much more charedi than they are (if at all), and if all your time isn’t eaten up by communal and family matters.

  10. I second both Ezzie and Mark. But there is an ironic twist to this sometimes. A friend of mine found herself forced to move to NY b/c people did not want to set her up when she was living in MD. So she uprooted herself and found a good position n NY. In the end, she married someone who lived in MD and wanted to stay there. Another move.

  11. soul, is “she” me? Because that’s not true at all.
    I live in Brooklyn. The question is: move OOT before marriage or not? And why should it make a difference?

  12. b4s – I live in Brooklyn. The question is: move OOT before marriage or not? And why should it make a difference?

    Depends where OOT. DO NOT move to a place that has a dearth of singles and is too far away (i.e. more than a 30-60 minute drive) from a place that does have plentiful singles. Sometimes, in the end, it’s just a “numbers game”, and the more people you date, the better your chances of getting married are.

  13. This married person has no social life.

    I didn’t have too much social life as a workaholic single girl, but marriage has exacerbated this inclination. I have a limited energy and many things I must do myself, and the end result is a minimalist approach of ‘if I don’t absolutely have to do it, I shall not’. I keep in touch with friends who aren’t offended by hearing from me only every three weeks or so. And I hate going anywhere during the week – even shopping is a chore. I just get terribly exhausted, and left with more pressing deadlines and my house in shambles. (Yes, my husband does more than half the housework. And no, I don’t cook more than the occasional pasta/rice)

    I think my case is somewhat unique since I handle a bigger workload than most young married women I know AND I can’t function properly without lots of sleep. All the same, I just think back to the way I used to judge my married friends – oh, I didn’t really resent them, just thought of them as disorganized and thoughtless – and regret not being more sympathetic. Some young married couples HAVE time on their hands, I know. But for some, and I among them, life is very happy – and very hectic…

  14. @Mark —

    I live in a place “plentiful” with singles, yet there have longer-than-desired periods of dating “derth.” I often wonder how much difference my locale really makes in the greater scheme of things….

  15. God knows geography, just like he knows math. It’s a tough emunah question- staying out of town means less dating opportunities (that’s a given). Can you just stay where you are and say my bashert will come when she/he is ready, or is moving somewhere with more singles a necessary minimum hishtadlus?

    A friend of mine, after being in Yeshiva for 3 years post-Israel in the general NY area, needed to move to a VERY OOT community for grad school purposes. He married a girl from queens, and now they live in hick town, USA. God has a plan for us all.

  16. O – I live in a place “plentiful” with singles, yet there have longer-than-desired periods of dating “dearth.”

    Maybe you are going about the process in an inefficient manner. For example, if you are relying solely on shadchanim, and they think you are “damaged goods” (too old, not wealthy enough, mom doesn’t use white tablecloth on shabbat, chas v’sholom a BT, etc) then you need to branch out and find other methods of attracting more people to date. Have you made sure to tell all your parents friends that you are looking? and have you told them that there is no need for them to rule out people based on the superficial things (age, height, weight, wealth, etc)? Finally, have you looked in nontraditional places? Have you stepped left and right a bit (just a bit, I promise your life won’t change all that much if you end up marrying a tiny bit left or right of your current status) in terms of hashkafa?

    I often wonder how much difference my locale really makes in the greater scheme of things….

    It makes a big difference. Not as big a difference as personality makes, but still a big difference. There are places in the world where the number of frum singles of each gender can be counted on two hands, and once you’ve dated most of them that’s it, all your future dates require substantial travel effort.

  17. Mark,

    Two hands can be an overstatement. I recently moved out of a community where the total number of frum singles under 30 could be counted on one hand while leaving enough fingers for both pointing and thumb wrestling. And yes, it can get quite lonely.

    Of course, it wasn’t just the dearth of singles. Including married people under 30, you could probably still get away with counting them without having to take off your shoes and socks.

  18. Now that I think about it, this is a particularly bad problem for people who get divorced but want to remain close to their children who live in such a community with few singles.

  19. Married people still need friends. I am proof of that. And I live in EY, away from all of my single friends in the land of the marrieds. And you know what, I miss my single friends?

    It is true that once you are married, the need to go to Hershey park with friends, etc dies down. But you still need your friends to call, talk to, see, etc. Yes, obviously your spouse is your best friend, but honestly, which spouse would want their wife/husband to have no other friends or forms of entertainment other than themselves? I would go crazy, as would my husband. You still do in fact need a social life of some sort, even if it is slightly less than before.

    Your point about making married friends is true. Though I still do feel weird talking to people twice my age, just because we both happen to have a child the same age… I guess I would feel more weird if I was single. Now we have something in common, thus something to talk about on the park bench.

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