If you were to take a look at my diary, you’d see a pretty obvious pattern: Monday to Thursday I’m out nearly every night, at drinks, dinners with friends or at work events (managing ES Magazine’s Flashbulb page comes with its fair share of party invitations). But Friday to Sunday? Nada. My calendar is as empty as my WhatsApp chats are mute.
I’m not even out of my 20s and I’ve already become a weekend hermit. And before you think I’m just another millennial staying at home on a Saturday to indulge in self care, this isn’t by my own volition. You see, I’ve become the weekday friend. And, with 44 per cent of Londoners single, there’s a high chance that you might have, too.
I’m the single girl my coupled-up friends call on a Monday night for a film, a Tuesday evening for post-work drinks or a Wednesday night for dinner. Boyfriend out playing football so you’ve got 90 minutes spare? Call me up. Girlfriend got an unexpected work commitment which means you’re at a loose end? I’ll bag the table at the pub. Everyone knows that, as the weekday friend, I’ll readily provide a fun night out at short notice.
My rather-more-grown-up-than-me friends no longer seem to factor me in to their weekend plans. Instead, they spend theirs at farmers’ markets, in the country and at soft play centres; having cosy couples’ Sunday lunches and furnishing their new houses. Meanwhile, I spend mine going to yoga classes, ordering Deliveroo for one and worrying about whether my pot plant is dying.
‘These days the pressure of time plays an important role,’ says sociologist Frank Furedi. ‘For any couple, even before children, the weekend is regarded as a precious time to be safeguarded from the presence of others.’ When it comes to friends who have kids, Furedi notes that friendship priorities change: ‘Parents focus on networking or hanging out with other parents. Parents behave differently with their parent friends than with their single friends, so it’s a case of dealing with the risk of bringing two worlds together.’
All of which means my weeknights are usually planned at least a fortnight in advance, while my weekends remain resolutely bare. However relaxing a sofa-bound Saturday can be, it’s hard not to see yourself as second-choice when Friday and Saturday invitations only appear when a significant other is out of town. Plus, I miss the weekend version of my friendships; after all, TGIF is a phrase for a reason and a Saturday night out holds more potential and excitement than a Wednesday evening drink ever will.
A quick canvas of my other single mates proves I’m certainly not the only one who feels their socialising is limited largely to weeknights. ‘Any time I try to book in weekend plans with friends we end up having to pick a date months in advance,’ bemoans my friend Alice, 28. ‘We’ve even resorted to Google Docs to try to find a date that works, and it always ends up being a Thursday anyway, because everyone is away with their partners at weekends.’ Another says: ‘My coupled-up friends only ever invite me to something at the weekend if it’s a baby shower, engagement party or wedding. I always feel like the token single girl.’
The weekday friend routine is also self-perpetuating: when you’re out every night Monday to Friday, you’re quite happy to spend the weekend curled up on the sofa. But it can feel like a rejection at times. A colleague, who also considers herself a weekday friend, helps me to reframe the situation: ‘Going out during the week lets me be a recluse at the weekend without feeling guilty about it,’ she says. ‘I don’t feel that Friday- and Saturday-night pressure.’ Perhaps, like her, I should embrace my status as a weekday friend. And maybe she’s right: I need to be rested in time for Monday night, when my phone starts buzzing again.