The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. -Proverbs 18:21
Words can hurt. They stay with us for years; one thoughtless comment may define a woman for the rest of her life.
When people find out I’m single they often start to backpedal awkwardly, spouting platitudes as they attempt to console me for my unfortunate state. I know they’re trying to be nice, I really do, but I’m not looking for consolation.
I would much rather have affirmation- that my life has value just the way it is.
Words have power. They can affect us greatly. In the spirit of things, I threw out this question to some of my single friends:
“What’s something you wish people wouldn’t say to singles?”
Here’s what they had to say.
14 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Single Women:
- When you get married…
My friend also had this to say- “This assumes that you’re going to get married at some point and sets a bad expectation- like somehow, I’m not normal if I don’t get married or God’s plan isn’t good if I don’t get married. None of these are true!”
- You need to get out more.
The “it’s up to you” mentality which implies you must be running around, dating everyone you can in a frantic effort to meet your soulmate. “Go for it! Make life happen! Take control!” This attitude is what pushes so many women into dating.
- You need to learn to be content in your singleness.
It is true. We all need to learn to be content with our lives. But comments like this coming from a married person? Not helpful or edifying.
- Have you tried online dating? Why don’t you just join Christian Mingle or eHarmony?
Thanks for the tip. Yes, online dating has been highly effective. For some people. Certainly, good relationships can be built online now, but there are also A LOT of crazy stories, too. If you want to have some fun, get a bunch of single women together and have them share their online dating stories.
I’ve said it before- there are way worse things than being single.
- Marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be/ real marriage isn’t like the movies.
My friend who wrote this statement followed up with these thoughts- I think they think it’s making me feel better by tearing marriage down, but really it just feels condescending. We know that marriage is hard, but we may still want a chance at it.
- You’re lucky to have so much free time. I would kill for that.
I agree that free time is a great thing. However, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. I actually feel embarrassed by my abundance of free time. Long, quiet hours at home in the evenings and empty weekends can be tough.
- You’re beautiful, you’re sure to find someone, or along with that…You’re so pretty. How come you’re not dating anyone?
Both of these comments send the message that attractive people should all be dating simply because they’re attractive. It places worth and value on the outer appearance and also implies there’s a reason plain girls aren’t dating. Being good-looking never made anyone a good person. We understand people mean this as a compliment, but it really doesn’t feel that way.
- Don’t worry, your time is coming/ Don’t worry, God has someone out there for you.
How do you know? Do you have a crystal ball?
My friend who supplied me with this statement commented, “There’s no verse for that.”
It’s true- God never promises marriage. Don’t give women (especially young women) false hope.
- You’re still young.
“…And then I watch their faces change when I tell them my real age. Oops. Never mind.” (Courtesy of my cousin who does look much younger than she is and is short enough to get handed kid’s menus in restaurants. She said that she may not have a husband, but she does have a great skin-care routine.)
- How come nobody has snatched you up yet?
How do you answer that? I just laugh and say I’m too much for one man to handle. Not to mention it sounds like you’re going to be kidnapped.
- Why aren’t you married yet?
Because no one has asked!
- So, when are you going to get married?
Mmmmmm, maybe next week.
- You don’t want to die alone, do you?
Ah! I can’t stand this one! Why do people say it? It’s so misleading. Very few people get to control the manner in which they die. Why would I want to date based on some possible future scenario?
- You went hiking (to the movies/ to Europe/ to the grocery store/ to a restaurant) alone? You’re so brave! You’d better be careful!
Older women, especially, are disparaging when we go places by ourselves. Implying I’m going to be mugged/ robbed/ cheated/ lost forever/socially embarrassed doesn’t help. If I’m not willing to do things by myself I’m going to miss out on a lot.
I’m laughing as I write this post. I hear variations on these statements all the time. Dear married friends, we know you mean well. We understand that you may have a wonderful marriage and you just want us to have the same happy experience.
But we may actually be okay with being single. We might enjoy the lives you’re disparaging. And if we are struggling in our singleness, these comments don’t help.
Build us up. Don’t try to fix, condescend, or console.
Affirm us and affirm God’s plan.
May all our speech bring life, not death, to others.
This week I’m thankful for all my single friends who shared comments this week. There’s great comfort in knowing you’re not alone! I hope reading these statements puts a smile on your face. Together, let’s celebrate every SINGLE blessing!