One Thing Not to Say to Your Single Friends

It’s Saturday and, as I mentioned last week, on Saturdays I’d like to share content related to singles. This post originally appeared on SingleMatters; married or single, I hope you find it helpful!

˜˜

Why is it that once some (not all) people get married, they seem to have all the answers for their single friends?  They are now success stories, automatically qualified to share dating advice, suggest possible matches, and impart wisdom, for they have “arrived”.

Some will even happily preach you a sermonette about how to find the partner God has in mind for you.  (Which assumes marriage is God’s plan for everyone and that there is such a thing as a soulmate for you out there – a topic worthy of much deeper discussion and that was recently addressed with great eloquence here. But I digress.)

In their enthusiasm, they usually mean well. And to be fair, not all their suggestions are unwelcome. Some may even be helpful.

But if you’re married, here’s one way NOT to help your single friends “put things in perspective”:

Telling them that marriage isn’t that great eithervintage-victorian-woman-1108685-h flickrdotcom freeparking.

Seriously, how is that helpful?

Someone once said that to me and I can tell you, my first reaction was not to immediately be content with my freedom and autonomy as a single. (Imagine the sound of birds chirping here!)

I wasn’t grateful to them for enlightening me nor was I instantly relieved to realize,

“Oh, isn’t that wonderful!  My life may have already peaked! It’s actually not going to get any better than this!”

No, I did not thank them for that insight.

Instead, I was deflated and defeated.

“I mean, if marriage is going to be such a let down, what the heck IS there for me to look forward to?”

Then I went to a place of denial:

“Well, it may not be great for you, but I’m not you. When I get married, I won’t be all negative and pouty; I’ll be happy. I’ll work hard and my marriage will be stellar!”

And my next stop was to feel a bit resentful toward them for generalizing their experience across the entire married population.

They may have intended it to be funny; after all, marriage-bashing humor is a lot more common than I’m comfortable with these days. Or maybe it was intended as a reality check, perhaps to protect me –

Hey, don’t get all starry-eyed about marriage; it’s not necessarily the happily ever after you may think it will be.

But what I heard was –

Hey, don’t get all hopeful about life; either way, you’re going to be disappointed.

Did I overreact?

What has been one of the most “discouraging encouragements” you’ve received as a single? If you’re married, what “reality check” have you been tempted to share with your single friends (to protect them, of course)? Please share in the comments.

(Photo by freeparking on flickr.com)

About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

16 thoughts on “One Thing Not to Say to Your Single Friends”

  1. It’s hard for me to relate to this, because I don’t see marriage as a goal or something that defines a future happy life. I’ve been happily single a very long time. A lot of my single friends, even the older ones past child-bearing years, really, really want to get married. I don’t get it. It seems like that just complicates an already complicated situation – being alive!
    I guess the worst “discouraging encouragement” I ever got was going to a new singles group at my church. I was excited, thinking we would socialize and serve and learn together. The first thing the group decided to do was to read a book about how to find the right marriage partner! This basically sends the message, “You are not ok; be dissatisfied.” So not a part of my faith! I bailed.
    Thanks for the post.

    1. Oh, man. I can see why you bailed. At least you found out early on that this was not going to be the group for you and you didn’t internalize a message of dissatisfaction. I’d be interested to hear more about how you got a place of such contentment in your singleness. I’m headed over to you blog now to see if you’ve addressed it there. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  2. If I ever get married, I pray that’s not me! My “favorites” are when people tell me “it’s okay, God has someone out there for you.” I mean, just pat me on the head while you say that too :). Being single doesn’t mean I’m depressed people. At least it makes for some funny stories though 🙂

  3. Good post. My single friends adore my husband – he ends up being a favorite “girlfriend” to all of them. I also adore my husband – despite the ups and downs, we’re a team, we’re in love and we’re in it for the long haul. THAT SAID…when my single friends talk I just listen. We all have our own path to follow. Every man, every marriage, every relationship is so different. The best advice you can give your friends is no advice. Just listen and maybe pour another glass of wine.

    1. Just listen. Yes, what good advice. (That was exactly the topic of my last post.) You’re so right, every man (and woman)-marriage-relationship is so different. Recently I saw an excellent quote on this: “Unsolicited truth is usually only heard as criticism.” We would be wise to keep our unsolicited advice to ourselves and as you said, maybe pour another glass of wine. Thanks for expressing your thoughts on this!

  4. Great post. I have a friend who wrote a chapter in a book about what not to say to folk who have cancer. It is good to hear how things feel from the perspective of the other person.

    1. I’ve been on both the delivering and receiving end of insensitive comments about any number of topics. I hate that feeling of realizing mid-sentence that what I’m saying is not coming out right. Ugh. And when I’m on the other side, I try to remember that most people don’t mean to be offensive. It’s not easy, this communication stuff.

  5. I’ve forgotten the advice to me as a single person so long ago. All I am aware of now is what a grace my wife is to me now having become so much more acutely aware of my deficits over time.

    For single persons, sometimes I think the emphasis on “finding” someone is too much like materialistic shopping, i.e. never mind whether one is ready, or worthy of that other person, but the emphasis is, “I deserve the best..” Really?

    In the book “Conscious Loving” I liked the authors’ focus on how marriage is not a delusion that covers up someone’s ailments and bad points, only to be discovered later. Instead, the love in marriage draws-out the poison and when it comes out in the marriage crucible, it makes the marriage seem at fault, that particular one and also the institution.
    Like a good doctor blamed for the pain of cure or therapy or healing, so is holy matrimony.

    What are the years of our lives? Compared with one light year? Compared with ten lifetimes? Compared with one single day times all the people on Earth? What we need is love, healing love, not the outward appearance of being model folks. That too often conceals our true needs through excessive distracting envy from some, praise from others.

    We are all, in some way, single, even during marriage — that is, we are responsible for what kind of ascents we endeavor to bring into our lives and marriages to give in the present each day to our loved ones.

    1. So many good thoughts here. Thanks for taking the time to write them out. I appreciate the perspective about marriage itself being made to seem at fault when the “poison” comes out in the marriage crucible. So true. And also, the observation that we are all in some way single, even during marriage – really good point. Thanks, as always, Mike.

      1. I’m always glad I get to read your posts. They are thought-provoking, but more importantly call on me to pray by their spiritual orientation. To reflect. I comment because I want you to know that your writing does prompt reflection.

        1. If my writing prompts reflection from one so thoughtful and articulate as you, it’s a win! Thanks – and I’m glad the spiritual orientation is helpful. That means more to me than you know. Blessings to you, Mike.

Your feedback is welcome!