I'm single. A lot of my friends are married. I'll suggest getting together, and they'll say yes, only to hit me at the last minute with, "Hubby will be with me; is that all right?" Is it unrealistic of me to expect to still see my girls without their men tagging along? —Anonymous
Your married friends are tripping and should know better. I mean, they weren't born married, and they've been in your shoes. So, no, you're not being unrealistic.
Single or married (now), this has happened to most of us. We're looking forward to a good kiki with the girls, and one of them shows up with her man. Even if he's the coolest partner ever, an unexpected husband (or beau) can be a mood killer for a ladies event. It's like, why is he here? The game ain't on? He doesn't have any friends? And real talk: We don't always converse the same when men are present.
It's bad if he just sits there looking like bored lump, and even worse if he wants to jump into the conversation, requiring a long-winded backstory to bring him up to speed or offering unsolicited advice about how to fix your issue, when all you wanted was your girlfriend to listen. Even worse than that is what happened to you. You showed up for one-on-one time with your girl, and ended up as the “plus one” on a date with your girl and your husband! That is not OK.
Some married couples take that "we are one" thing way too far. Yes, you're one family, and you're supposed to think in terms of what's best for "us, not me" and proceed as a unit, but that doesn't mean the couple has to be attached at the hip for every occasion. This may be how your friends operate, but this is not a universal outlook (by far).
That said, your friends are not entirely to blame here. Yes, they need better social skills, but you need better communication skills. When your friends have called last minute and asked to bring their spouses, you haven't been honest with how you feel. You've said yes and pretended that everything was cool when it is not. You're encouraging their behavior by pretending that it doesn't bother you.
Before you bail on your girls for asking you to be the third wheel, have a grown-up chat with each of them about what's bothering you. Admit that you haven't been completely honest about your feelings when it comes to hanging out with your friends and their husbands. Individually, remind your friends that you like their husbands and support their marriages. Say this first so that no one thinks what's coming next is a passive-aggressive way to diss their husbands. Then add that you miss having girl time, and sometimes you just want to hang out with your friends one-on-one.
You might be surprised to find that your friends are clueless that they have been inconsiderate. Unless you're surrounded by frenemies, your friends are probably in a lovestruck haze where the theme song is something akin to Smokey Robinson's "Being With You." Or perhaps they don't have a lot of time to socialize and figured they could do a two-for-one by hanging out with you and their husbands together. Or maybe they don't trust their husbands when they're not around, so they keep them close, which is a whole different issue.
Hopefully, better communication and expressed expectations can clear the air. If things don't change going forward, and you still get last-minute updates that hubby will be in tow, tell your girlfriend to enjoy their date and you'll catch up another time. Set your boundaries and also just accept who your friends are now as married women, and invite them only to couples events. You can still get your one-on-one girl time with them when the men inevitably drift off into a group together. It's not ideal, but maybe better than losing a friendship that you clearly value.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously in Ask Demetria: “My Man Wants to Use Extra-Large Condoms, but He Doesn’t Really Measure Up”