Dear Married Folk,
I am attempting to do a dangerous thing—represent people other than myself. While I am not the expert on the single life experience, there are some things I want to get off my chest to equip you better to support your single friends. Being single is a complex experience filled with highs and lows. It is also emotionally unpredictable, and overall, no one prepares you for it. Like seriously, no one talks about being single after 25, especially in a positive light. So this is my attempt to help you not add to the chorus of well-meaning but very flat people trying to “help.”
**Note: The following will contradict itself. Welcome to being single.
#1 – Being Single is Great
Listen, singles can do what we want when we want. It’s great! Cereal for dinner again; no problem! All-night T.V. binge; let’s go! Pajama dance party where I don’t have to share D.J. privileges; AYE! AYE! AYE! There are a lot of perks to being single. I think one of the greatest is the ability to develop a deep sense of self. If you’re going to be healthy and single, you have to do some internal work. So while solo travel, movie trips, dinners, and outings may seem sad and lonely, please don’t assume they are. Many of us are ok by ourselves. In fact, we really enjoy it.
#2 – Being Single Sucks
I told you I’d contradict myself. Yes, being single is great, but it also sucks, and not for some of the reasons you may think. The challenging side of singleness is more than just not having “your person” or being able to have sex. Many of us are silently mourning the loss of priority. As more of your social group gets married and has children, your priority level decreases. It’s not that they stop caring, but their partners, children, and aging parents take precedence. And rightfully so, but it hurts. When I was younger, I wondered why older singles stuck together so closely. I believe this is part of it. Your friends with marriages and families still care, but their availability to talk, hang out, grab a bite, or travel is significantly limited. This is a loss for a single person.
Likewise, when you have time together, life experiences are different, which can affect the friendship. Sometimes each other’s pain points appear to be blessings to the other. To the tired parent who just wants a night alone for uninterrupted sleep and quiet, their single friend’s life may seem ideal. Yet the single person would love to have kids jump on the bed to wake them. The lifestyle and pace of life can be very different for married and single people. The dynamics of friendships can change, and even finding commonality can be a struggle. Yeah, it sucks.
#3 – We Feel Judged … A Lot!
Every Single Ministries Day at church brings about an internal groaning for every unmarried person I know. You never know what direction the sermon is going to go. Are you going to be beaten down for not being attractive enough or assume that you’re being too picky? Are you going to be told to be more traditionally masculine or feminine? (As if baking a pound cake or fixing a flat tire will mysteriously cause a spouse to materialize. #eyeroll) Are you going to be told to have more faith and to fast and pray? Or my least fav, “you’re not ready yet”?
People like to approach us like our singleness can be solved by a formula. Like solve for x; solve for singleness. I once sat at a Sabbath lunch and heard the statement if you’re single after 35, something is wrong with you. And no one disagreed! I was under 35 then. We’re already wondering if something is “wrong with me” please do not add to that.
With every story about what went right for you and every tip you provide, you often do more harm than good, even if we seem appreciative of the advice. (My mother did not raise me to be rude!) These stories and tips oversimplify something that is hardly simple: finding a spouse. Nine times out of ten, we’ve already tried the tips, and we’re still single, fam.
#4 – It’s Complicated
Being single is complicated, yet I find married people (generally speaking) uncomfortable sitting with us through the complex emotions. Don’t try to slap a Band-Aid on our feelings with positive words and listing everything going well in our lives. Careers, nice things, and travels don’t make up for being single, especially if you want to get married. (All of us don’t want to get married.) Every person has a different experience and is in a different place concerning their level of acceptance, happiness, and contentment. It’s complicated.
If you want to be a good friend to a single person, sit with us as we experience all of the emotions. Don’t view our experience through the lens of your married life. Yes, we are tired too. No, we don’t have an abundance of free time. No, we won’t just get over it with the next date. Yes, we already have faith. Don’t assume all is well or that all is wrong. Ask us. Sit with us. Please talk with us.
I hope this has given you some things to think about. And I hope I haven’t offended you. (People are sensitive these days. #triggered) As more and more church members are single, the views and interactions with us need to change. More than marriage being the goal, the goal needs to be wholeness in Christ regardless of marital status. Let’s work towards that.
Your Single Friend
Here are a few bonuses:
– No, we are not attracted to your spouse.
– We are not jealous at every wedding.
– We all do not have “the one who got away.”
– We are spiritually ready to be married.
– Please, no more Single Banquets; we hate them. Like seriously, no more.