I’m not the one who has been personally single forever but one of my best friends has and after hearing her complain about the way the world talks to her, I made an important decision long ago: I’m not saying a word about her perpetual single status. She doesn’t need it. She gets enough unsolicited feedback from everybody else. If a woman approaches forty and hasn’t yet had a significant relationship—like a multi-year one where she lived with a partner and all of that—people start to talk. Her singleness is an issue that must be solved or at the very least a fascinating topic to be analyzed and assessed. Lucky her. I feel the conversation around a single man of that age goes something like this: “We just need to find someone good enough for him.” Meanwhile, that same conversation about a woman goes something like this: “What’s wrong with her?” Here are infuriating things people say when you’re forever single.
“There’s more to life than relationships”
Gee, what a relief. Also, what a pile of BS. We all know that human relationships are what make life worth living. Those don’t have to be romantic, but ultimately, intimacy is one of the best things in life and romantic relationships are the most intimate. So, this is just a rude lie.
“I wish I were single”
Oh no you don’t. Married people will say this to single people—detailing all of the things they miss about the single life. But the truth is that they wouldn’t trade in their soul mate just to eat sandwiches in bed again while watching “Queer Eye” until 3am.
“Why don’t you give that ex another shot?”
Oh so we’re at this point: the just settle point. This is what people say when they think that finding the perfect someone isn’t an option for you, so why don’t you just recycle that one that wasn’t quite right but, good enough.
“You can always just move in with us!”
Very cute. And, actually, having a couple adopt you when you’re single is quite a bit of fun. But you don’t want to do it forever. It’s not meant to be the permanent plan. You’d like to have your own life and not just be a couple’s pet.
“Maybe you should lower your expectations”
Did any of these people in relationships lower their expectations? Well, maybe, but if they did, they did so subconsciously. Doing so consciously is…the saddest thing in the world.
“Are you being, you know, approachable?”
No, no. This single friend sits at bars with a knife in her teeth and a sign that says, “Talk to me and I’ll gut you.” Of course she’s being approachable!
“Don’t worry: people will get divorced soon”
Translation: everybody who married young is reaching that point of life when they’ll divorce so you can dip into that pool of divorced men. Yippee.
“Stop looking and he’ll appear”
While there is some truth to this, it’s just not advice a person can consciously take. If we are thinking about the fact that we aren’t looking, we’re still looking. The only time this works is when life truly throws us something so distracting that we don’t even have time or the bandwidth to think about the fact that we aren’t looking.
“Do you want a relationship?”
Then there are those who insinuate that the perpetually single person must just not really want a relationship—that they push people away and want to be alone. In reality, they probably just don’t want the bad relationships that have come their way. That’s not the same as wanting to be alone.
“Men just want something easy”
Okay great. Where does that get someone? It’s a compliment, in a sense, because you’re saying, “Hey you’re complex, have rich life experiences, and you’re intelligent—men want dumb dumbs” but also…what is she to do with that?
“You know men want young women—they’re dumb”
Again, your friend can’t get any younger. Maybe it’s true that men her age date women in their twenties and these men are morons but those are the men she’s dealing with. So we reach a dead end, again.
“You don’t need a man to have kids”
That’s true, but stating this is basically like throwing in the towel for your single friend. You’re essentially saying, “You probably won’t meet anyone so you should work on freezing those eggs and researching sperm donors now.”
“I’m impressed with you! Doing it all alone!”
That’s very nice but it’s not like she has a choice. She’d love some help. She’d probably love to have someone just bring her soup when she’s sick and be there for her, unconditionally, through tough times. Don’t we all want that?
“Ugh the dating world. I don’t miss that.”
Way to rub it in her face! I know: it’s a way of trying to empathize and commiserate. But, she is handling the dating world, it sucks, and she doesn’t need an outsider reminding her of that.
“Here’s what your problem is…”
Oh terrific. Everybody’s a therapist suddenly. Everybody knows just what’s wrong with the single lady. If she could just fix this or that fatal flaw, she’d find somebody. Nobody asked these people to be perfect, and they’re married!