Things The Singles in Your Life Want You to Know
I was listening to a podcast the other day and two girls were discussing how their married friends unintentionally hurt their feelings all the time by assumptions that they have concerning singleness and how they wished their friends and others could understand certain truths about the lives of single people. See, there are a lot of generalities floating around about being single, especially within the church. I’m going to be real honest and say that the church has not always done right by their single members. I get that it’s hard to know what to do with those of us who don’t fit in the “traditional” categories but you often find the singles group meeting in a tiny closet or dark basement. I once described it as being the on the Island of Misfit Toys from the Christmas special. It’s not intentional but it happens. So, with this thought and on a similar path to the podcast, I asked the following question of myself and other single friends…
“What do you wish the world understood about being single or the single life?”
Truth #1: Please think about what you are saying to me.
People mean the best and I know my church family, friends and loved ones would not intentionally hurt my feelings but dang do some of y’all need a lesson in tact! Here are some fun and OH SO TRUE examples of what I mean…
“Wow, you’re still single? Like, aren’t there any single men in your Bible Fellowship class?”
“Yeah, I’ve met some great guy friends in class.”
“So why don’t they ask you out?”
“Ummm...I’m guessing because they don’t want to?”
Yes, this is a real conversation I have had more than once with people. I get they are wanting the best for me but what type of Looney Tune person thinks this is appropriate and not offensive. Also, do they think because we are all single we should automatically pair up and thank you for assuming that they won’t date me. Maybe I don’t want to date them?
“Are you seeing anyone?’
“Not right now.”
“Well, try not to get depressed. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with you and the Lord has a plan.”
I very clearly remember this conversation and where I was standing. It was said by a woman who had known me my whole life and would never mean to offend me but my first thought was “Wow! I wasn’t depressed until I talked to you.”
“If you are still single at this age there is obviously something wrong with you. You either don’t really want to get married or you have an issue that is keeping men from wanting to be with you.”
This lovely little conversation took place at a women’s retreat where we had just confessed one area in which we had trouble letting God take control. All I can think is this woman truly believed she was providing useful advice. Fun fact: This lady had known me for less than twenty-four hours and is a mental healthcare professional.
Truth #2: We don’t have endless time to meet everyone else’s expectations.
Here’s the thing. I have a life and it’s quite busy. I have a full time career, philanthropies, hobbies, fitness classes, church and more. For some reason, people assume that a single person’s life is just like a married person’s minus the spouse and kids. Therefore, the time that would traditionally be spent with a spouse and kids is completely free for single folks. Apparently, we are just sitting at home twiddling our thumbs praying Mr. Right shows up.
The reality is completely different. I take that “free time” and fill it with other activities. I give my time to philanthropies, committees, personal health and doing for others in a way that I’m allowed because of the flexibility of my schedule. Personally, I’m on four social committees, sing in the church choir, work in the library, teach Bible fellowship, workout multiple times a week, help put on a play starring kids with disabilities, sponsor a club, create sets and costumes for our children’s choir musical and volunteer with several other organizations. This doesn’t include all the games and performances I attend to support my kiddos or the monthly women’s event and personal hobbies I take joy in. My calendar is pretty booked every week and without canceling something I typically have two truly free days a week which are used for those fun activities like doing laundry and washing dishes.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind when someone asks me to help or wants to get coffee or whatever. What I do mind is when someone assumes my schedule is 100% clear because I don’t have a husband. You don’t expect my married counterparts to be available all the time so why do you expect that of me?
Once, I was at a planning meeting with a bunch of women from various departments at my church when one of the groups suggested our church sponsor a parents’ night out once a month which seemed great until the spokesperson explained that my class of singles could provide the babysitting services free of charge since we don’t have “real” obligations. She was quite shocked to discover that not only were many of us professionals who worked nontraditional hours but many in my class were parents just like her and needed a babysitter as well. Her only response was, “I just assumed because you were single…”
Truth #3: Please stop trying to fix me or the problem you seem to think I have.
I get it. If you are happily married you want your friends to be happily married too so you will do anything to help get them to the altar and I also understand that a lot of single thirty and forty somethings seem to be on the delayed growth chart as compared to their peers, however, maybe there isn’t a problem for you to fix? It took me a long time to realize that me being single didn’t reflect a problem in my life. Every article, book and YouTube video geared towards single women is geared towards this fear. We are constantly told to follow these three steps to catch a mate and I agree that dating is a bit of a game whether you like it or not but be careful how you portray this concept to your single friends.
This all goes back to watching what you say because how many times have you heard someone say “He seems like such a great guy. If he’s still single, there must be something wrong with him”? I get what is being said but what lies underneath is the idea that singleness is a red flag for issues and maybe he IS a serial killer but chances are if he is such and awesome guy, him being single at this time is part of God’s plan.
Not to throw my loved ones and friends under the bus but I have been asked to my face what my issues are and why won’t men date me? Like, you don’t always have the whole picture so be careful where you’re stepping. This isn’t to say that if you see a real issue with your single friend or their significant other that you shouldn’t speak up.
I’ve had friends point out my standoffishness and my unwillingness to step outside my comfort zone as potential hindrances to finding a mate and they are 100% right. I’ve had to have a conversation with a friend on how a guy she was seeing was great in a lot of categories but was never going to be the man of God she desired and deserved. Those are tough conversations that need to be had so don’t shy away from those. However, telling me to grow my hair out, stop wearing heels and stop being independent is not fixing a problem I have because if those are the big deal breakers for a guy, there’s a lot about me that he isn’t going to like.
Truth #4: Don’t assume I want to get married, have kids, etc.
Personally, I do want to get married and feel that it is part of the Lord’s plan for my life but that doesn’t mean every single person out there is looking to run across a beach in slow motion into the arms of their dreamboat!
I know a lady in my church who is beautiful, talented and an absolute sweetheart. To be real honest she makes being a single woman in the church look good. She is truly living her best life but God bless her because I can only imagine how many times she has had to answer the question of when is she getting married? Or why is she still single? Or any special man lately? I know how many times I’ve been asked so I figure she’s dealt with it too. Here’s the thing. She doesn’t want to get married or have kids. She is very content and fulfilled by her life and I would bet that she believes she is living the life God has purposed for her so if all of that is true why do I hear people pity her? They are literally pitying God’s plan for her life! Think about that!!!!
Now, if you know your sister without a mister has a desire to marry then by all means with tact and her permission be on the lookout but please don’t assume you know what’s best for her or what brings her contentment.
Truth #5: Leaving me out only makes me lonelier.
Sometimes the world feels like Noah’s ark...pairs on one side, singles on the other but why? Your single friends want to be included in your life even if they are joining you alone because being alone is the norm for us but for some reason it makes others uncomfortable. I cannot tell you how many people stressed over me going alone to my brother’s wedding. Why? Why would I drag some helpless guy to a family event where he knew no one and I won’t have time to spend with him? But that is exactly what people wanted.
(Side note: If you wonder why your singles don’t take other single friends as dates to things like weddings, it’s because of how some of you behave. What could easily be a fun, friend helping a friend out event quickly turns into “Who is this?”, “Are you dating? Why not?”, “What are your intentions?”, etc. I’m serious! I’ve seen people duck under tables, hide behind potted plants and more to avoid ending up in a Facebook picture that someone is going to make awkward comments on for the next six weeks.)
I’ve used this example before but in college a friend had a party at her house and invited a good portion of our friend group but specifically told me I wasn’t invited because it was all couples and she didn’t want me there alone, feeling awkward… because knowing that you only have value in the eyes of your friends if you come with a partner is waaaaaaaay less awkward!
If in doubt, invite us and know that if we feel awkward being the third wheel or the only party of one we will decide for ourselves and please be understanding if that is the case but please for Heaven’s sake don’t make the choice for us!
In the end, we know you love us and want what’s best for us but it’s not nice being treated like the “Island of Misfit Toys”, shoved into a corner until we get “promoted” in life. Some of the most incredible, successful and wonderful people I know are not currently paired up and their value is not marred by their singleness. In fact, many are even enhanced by it! All we ask is that you love and appreciate US…just us!