What NOT to say to your single friends

Ahem.  I hope you’ll forgive me, but after an especially brutal past two months in the world of being single, I’m going to take advantage of my blog and momentarily rename it “SOAPBOX CENTRAL.”  Having heard every one of these phrases in the last 8 weeks (some more than once!), and out of consideration for all the single adults out there – especially the women who are 35+ like me – I am going to be wholly transparent and share with you what we actually think when we hear one of the multitude of cliches about life as a single.

WARNINGS/DISCLAIMERS

1 – Sarcasm ahead. Be prepared. Please, stop reading now if that will offend you.
2 – No, this is not what runs through my mind every day or every time I hear these words. Most times, I just blow it off or say thank you and go on. Really, I’m calloused by now. But in bad moments, it is what I think – and you won’t know when those moments are.
3 – I know single people say equally stupid things to their married friends (I’ll probably even do it here). Please don’t feel the desperate urge today to rattle all those off to me.  That doesn’t mean I don’t want to know, nor that I won’t invite a married friend guest post here someday with those very words. It just means that if you read this with that looming large in your mind, you will miss out on the very point of this post. What is that, you ask?  Keep reading, my friends, with an open heart and mind … and for those of you who haven’t figured it out by then, I’ll share my purpose at the close.

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Lovingly offered on behalf of all your single friends (including me)….

“It’ll happen just when you’re least expecting it.”
Oh, THAT’S what the problem is. I’m so glad you told me – I haven’t heard this before. I must have spent the last ___ years expecting it every moment of every day.  I must try it immediately.  1, 2, 3, commence not expecting it…

“Why are you still single?”
Don’t you think that if I knew the answer to that question, I would have tried to fix it by now?  Don’t you know that I ask myself that question all the time, wondering what is so wrong with me?

“Back when I was single…..”
You got married when you were 20/22/25 – and that was after dating your husband during/just after college. That was not even close to the same as what it’s like to be single after 30.

 “God must still be preparing you both for each other.”
Am I really THAT messed up? Or is he really THAT messed up?  Wow, thanks.

“I wish I was single so had as much free time as you!”
1: I don’t have any more free time than you. I have 24 hours in a day, just like you. Those hours are just filled differently.

2: Well, I really wish I had someone to take my car to the shop, or help me budget for the future, or help me around the house like you were bragging on your husband about earlier. I get tired and overwhelmed balancing things, too. I realize you have more people in your house than I do – but sometimes I’d like to share even the tiniest bit of that load.

“We just got back from the most fabulous trip to _____. You should go there sometime! It was so romantic!”
Umm, yeah.  And exactly with whom am I supposed to go on said trip?

 “Marriage is not all roses, you know.”
Duh. I know it’s not a fairy tale – but being single isn’t a dream come true, either. Please quit hanging onto your collegiate painting of single life. It’s not like that.

“You are so lucky – I would love a little alone time.”
1:
 Yes, well I would have loved someone there to hold me when I got the call that my Grandpa died.

2: I’d love to know in an instant who to call/text/email/talk to when I have had a horrible day/fantastic day – and know that they’d actually care to hear it.

3: Why do you think I work so much/so late? I get tired of coming home to an empty house all the time.

“I know this guy who’s single. I should fix you up with him.”
Single and ______? Has a pulse? What else is it about this guy that makes you think we’d be great together? I’m trusting you with my heart – please don’t try to fix me up with just anyone you happen to know who’s single.

“You should try online dating.”
1:
 Of course I’ve tried it, like everyone else. Online dating isn’t a magic formula either. Nor is it cheap or risk-free.

2: Am I truly that hideous that I need the safety of anonymity to “lure” someone in? Ouch.

You’re just not looking in the right places.
And exactly what ARE the right places? I live life – just like most people. I go to work, church, parties, dinners. I shop. I run errands. I try new things. Exactly where else should I be looking?

“Single life must be so fun! Your weekends must be packed!”
1:
No, I spent most of last weekend running errands, doing housework, paying bills, and getting the car serviced – just like you.

2: There are fun parts, but there’s also awkward parts like having a wedding to attend and no one to go with you as your guest. Or going to a party that ends up being all married people, where I leave feeling like the fifth wheel. Or going to dinner and spending the whole night hearing about everyone’s husbands and kids … and having nothing to contribute.  I want to be invited and stay in touch with my married friends – you are all so precious to me. But know that sometimes I am like a puzzle piece that just doesn’t fit anywhere at all.

3: Actually, right now they’re really not.  You see, I am now on not my first, second, or even third “social circle” wave.  After enjoying great times with waves one through five, I’ve now watched all of those friends get married/remarried (not to mention having babies) – and am currently in that really lonely time between waves five and six.

“You’re next!!” (always at a wedding, wedding shower, or engagement party)
Apparently I am still drawing the lose a turn card. I’ve been hearing this for the past 20 years. The first time I heard it was at my friend ____’s wedding. Guess what?  Her first child just graduated from high school.  Yeah.

“I just want you to be happy.”
I do appreciate your sentiment – really I do. But the implication is that I can’t be happy unless I’m married, and that’s just not true.  I have a lot of blessings in my life and some only because I am single at this point in my life. I also know marriage would bring a precious dimension to my life that currently I lack – but please don’t pity me for not having it yet. I want marriage, too, so I appreciate you wishing for that with me too … but know that I can be (and am) happy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My friends,

I’m a strong woman – an independent woman – and life has taught me to be just that. I’m a sappy, sentimental soul when it gets right down to it and I wear my heart on my sleeve, but you don’t get to where I am without growing some pretty thick skin. I have a lot of blessings in my life and a lot of things I’ve gotten to do or experience because I’m single – most likely, I wouldn’t be in the beloved job I have today if my life hadn’t taken this path. But I’ve also missed out on a lot of things that I really wanted – and feel those dreams slipping through my fingertips more every passing day. 

The point of this post was simply to set my 38-year-old single heart out here for all of you. laid bare and vulnerable, so that you can know what words are “between the lines” of all the cliches that I’ve now heard at least a trillion times in the last twenty years. When you say these things, I will probably laugh, smile, and come back with something polite and pleasant (or perhaps a silly joke) – and many times, the words pass by unaffected.  But other times, the words will cut, wound, and bruise a heart that’s already been broken and patched up many times over. And you’ll likely not know when those are because I don’t share these things anymore (because no one can really relate).

So please, I beg you – think before you speak. I know you care, and I know you want the best for me.  Really, I do.  I even know that you aren’t sure what to say and so you offer the first thing that pops to mind and it’s usually a cliche. But will you please trust me when I say that I’d rather hear silence than any of these?

Thanks for listening,
Your single friend

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When I started writing, my thought was that this would be the first in a 3 part series (or 4, if I could find a trusted married friend to write the mirror image post to my own, here).  Part 2 was going to be “what not to say to your single family member,” and part 3 was going to be “what your single friends desperately want to hear  from you.”  But now I sit here, late at night, uncertain.

With the exception of the fourth part (which I know God will make possible with the right person and venue if He wants it to happen), I no longer know if I’m supposed to write the rest of the posts, or if it’s even my place to offer them a home here. Perhaps I have said all that I needed to say for now, and perhaps that is already more than people want to hear.  Perhaps what you’ve read here has made you decide never to visit here again. Oh, how I hope not, because if you have, you haven’t yet gotten a glimpse of who I am or what makes my heart beat.  And then there’s always the chance that you want to hear more, but not the way I had in mind.

Time will tell, I know, but as I close here tonight, I’m just grateful you stuck with me long enough to give my words a voice. It may be a tiny, inconsequential voice, but it means so much to me that you gave them a home in your heart today. Thank you.
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2 responses to “What NOT to say to your single friends

  1. I have a couple of single friends. I probably have said something just as insensitive without realizing it. We all feel the need to say something. Why? I don’t know. But, we do.

    Thank you for opening my eyes to your heart and possibly the heart of my friends. May I yield to the Holy Spirit and not feel obliged to speak trivial words. On behalf of all of us well-meaning married folk, please accept our apologies.

    • Aw, thanks Diane … Apology not necessary, but accepted nonetheless. We know our friends’ hearts in whatever words are spoken. We really do. There are just times when it’s harder for us to filter them through the lens of love instead of the lens of our own loneliness or weariness in bearing it on our own another day. But God is faithful as are His plans, so someday we’ll understand.

      Your single friends are blessed to have you in their lives … so am I!!

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