Single Parent: Social Pariah

dinner party single parents

Whoop! It’s the summer holidays. Well, in our house at least.

We’re off on hols soon, but first Flea’s spending a week with her Dad. I’m sure she’ll have a blast, but it’s always a bit odd finding myself in the house without my small companion.

Today, though, I’ve been pondering single parenting. I’ve been a single parent now for about eight years.

Have a guess how many dinner party invites I’ve had in that time from friends in the town where we live?


Not a one.

Not a single, solitary dinner party.

Which is sort of weird, because I’m a middle-class graduate, and dinner parties used to account for 95% of my social life. When I was married.

As a married person, we had a circle of friends and would generally be out for dinner at least once a week. We had journalist friends, college friends, neighbourhood friends. After Flea was born, we’d have dinner with NCT friends. If we didn’t fancy cooking, we’d all meet up at a restaurant in town for Tapas and lots of red wine.

These days, I’m a single parent. I do still have friends. I’m fairly sure I’m still interesting and fun. But as a single parent, I’m firmly in the category of “lunch friend”.

I get invited for morning coffee and cake after the school run. A late lunch with girlfriends. Or going to someone’s house so the kids can hang out while we drink tea in the garden.

But dinner invites? Nope.

When married people have dinner parties, they invite married friends. I assume this is because the universe will implode and the Four Horseman will ride through the town stealing infants if you invite an odd number of people to your house to eat your Thai green curry on a Friday evening.

I’ve lived in the same small town for eight years. Flea attended the same school for eight years. During that whole time I must have overhead a hundred conversations about parents hanging out, going out for birthday dinners, having supper parties, visiting each other’s houses and boats, and summer homes. Doing couple things. With other couples.

Is it weird that I was never invited? Mums would invite me for a cup of tea when the kids played, we’d chat at the school gate, we’d do play dates – but dinner? That’s couple territory.

Of course, nobody wants to make those single people feel awkward and inadequate by parading their intact, functioning relationships in their faces. After all, single people probably don’t even go to Center Parcs. I mean, what would you talk about? And of course, there are always women who are so desperate for a man they’ll just try and steal one if you invite them to your house. Newsflash: I’m too tired, he’s not THAT much of a catch, and I really can’t be faffed with the drama of dealing with married men.  

I’m being sarcastic, of course. But honestly, single people CAN come to dinner. We can still talk about school places and house prices and the outrageous price of hummus at Waitrose. I play a mean game of Pictionary. It’s been said that I’m quite funny. And I’ll bring a really, really good dessert.

So, married people, next time you’re having a dinner party or hosting that summer barbecue, do invite your single mama friends. We’re desperate for a decent night out that isn’t a date (because OMG the level of work and stress involved means I can only do that six times a year, tops).  And actually, that invite might make the difference to a friend who’s having a pretty tough time, especially in the early days of being a single parent.

And you, single Mamas? Organise your own dinner parties. Stop waiting to be asked! Hanging out on Twitter too much does not equal a social life. Maybe once you’ve invited a few couples over, they’ll return the favour.

Nag your friends into coming over for dinner. Make them play Pictionary, and drink too much wine so they have to crash in your spare room. My blogger chums are a regular source of entertainment in this regard. Blogging friends are THE BEST when you’re a single Mama.

Honestly, meeting up every few months for food, gossip and foolish games? Is just the stress relief you need after a long week of solo parenting.

14 thoughts on “Single Parent: Social Pariah”

  1. Oh Sally, don’t worry about it. I never get invited to dinner parties anymore either but that’s because I’m a miserable git and my husband is a copper. We’d both be rubbish company, married or otherwise. Totally get where you’re coming from though, it’s awful being left out of social stuff.

  2. Sally, if i lived in your town (And I actually had dinner parties) you’d be most welcome. In fact if you’re ever down my way you’re quite welcome to join in our BBQs. I remember back to my single mum days when my social life took a nose dive, all my friends had been ‘our’ friends and suddenly I was not part of the group any more. The new friends I made during that time have been the most loyal I’ve ever known and we still make time for each other now, although it may only be a few times a year.
    Oh, and I’m good friends with a couple of single mums too, one has even asked us to be godparents to her new baby, so I guess I’m not doing that bad 🙂

  3. I loved this post! I was in a circle of married friends too back in the day, but have had zero dinner invites in the last … ooh, 20 odd years from that lot. But they very generously say hello when I see them out shopping, so that’s nice.

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever been invited to a dinner party. If we lived closer I’d invite you and Jen to one if I ever through one. Don’t worry about it, their loss xx

  5. Thank you sooooooo much for writing this, I thought it was just me! I get zero invites any where since becoming a single mum last year. I’ve started dating just to get a social life as my married friends are too busy having filling dinner parties to come to the local wine bar with me! And yes, dating is much more stressful and not nearly as much fun as wine with people you already know.

  6. I really could have wrote this myself. Now the kids are 14 and 15 it’s even worse for a social life. I just don’t go anywhere and the only dinner parties I have been to since being single the last 8 years, there has been for some strange reason a single man who I will get on with like a house on fire! But sadly I never do

  7. Oh my goodness, this is exactly how my life is, well was. It’s improved since I started seeing D a few months ago, but that’s thanks to his friends not mine. I went from being invited out to dinner parties to absolute zero too and flipping heck trying to organise my friends for a get together or night out is like trying to get blood out of a stone. Maybe we all need to get together and have our own little party.

  8. This makes me so sad to read…I have no problem whatsoever inviting my non couple friends to a dinner party, with my couple friends – I can’t even begin to fathom why anyone wouldn’t. I don’t organise my friends into categories…they’re just ‘friends’! One single friend apologised recently when I invited her as part of a group of friends for dinner ‘for making it odd numbers’. Why the heck do I need even numbers at a dinner party??? You can come to my next dinner party if you like, Sally 🙂

  9. Do people still have dinner parties!? I remember my parents having them when I was a kid but I’ve certainly never been to one as an adult! Am I missing out?

    1. For us in Brighton, yes, we’d often to go dinner, or host friends for dinner, or go to friends for dinner. But I guess in different social circles, it might be “go to a gig” or “go to a comedy club” or something else – the point being that couples (largely) socialise with other couples and it can be massively isolating for single parents.

      And you’ve been to dinner at my place at least twice!

  10. Sally, 100% the same. I came across this article because I was searching to see if this was a common issue. I’m 4 years divorced now with the same ‘my life was dinner parties and now it’s dog walks on Sundays’ ratio. Why does it happen? It’s so odd! Anyway, my guys are 17 and nearly 15 so I guess I can just wait it out, concentrate on ‘mumness’ for now and start ‘out there’ again fairly soon but it’s a killer if you’ve got a decade ahead of you! Get this article OUT THERE! It’s actually a real issue and I’m sure most people don’t realise how much it hurts their single friends.

    1. Thanks KB. I’m in a similar situation in that my daughter is approaching 14, and I’m starting to think bout getting back ‘out there’ – terrifying as it seems. But yes, it’s been a lonely few years in lots of ways, and I’m sure people just don’t think about how it makes friends feel when they’re relegated off the evening activity guest list. It’s not always easy to get a night out as a single Mum, but it’s certainly not impossible!

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