There have been a plethora of articles written about what not to say to your single friends. This isn’t really one of them.
Okay, actually, it pretty much IS just that, only from my very subjective perspective.
So here’s my personal rant about five comments and suggestions I receive regarding being single that frustrate me the most and why I don’t find them to be helpful.
Nothing like a good verbal purge on a Monday to get the week going, amiright?
1. “Why aren’t you seeing anyone?” “I don’t understand how are you still single?” “So, why don’t you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?”
This subtly implies that there is something wrong with me. That I need to explain my alone-ness. Cause if I am really this amazing person but still single, I MUST be screwing it up somehow or have some hidden wrongness in me, right?
I understand the intentions of this statement. I also know quite a few really genuinely wonderful single people who are not total idiots, trolls, dirt bags, commitment-phobes, workaholics, or socially incompetent fools. They are really great people, and I am often honestly (and silently) shocked that no one has snatched them up yet.
But here’s the gist of it. They (and I) just haven’t found the right person yet.
That’s why we are single.
2. “But you are such a catch!”
Look, feel free to compliment me all you want. I assume you find me pretty amazing or you wouldn’t be friends with me in the first place. (Or you are related to me and required to think I am fantastic.)
And compliments are ALWAYS welcome. However….
This starts to veer back into the “I don’t understand what you are secretly doing wrong because you seem perfect and therefore shouldn’t be single” territory discussed above. Even with the best intentions, this can vibe as a backhanded compliment and make me feel crappy.
Compliment me on me, not on what others are missing out on, please.
3. “You’ll find someone someday.” “There are plenty of fish in the sea.” “Don’t worry, they’re out there somewhere.”
Wait, was I supposed to be worrying? You’re saying might NOT find someone? And that would mean the end of the world?!? Are other people worrying about this??? I didn’t even know this was a genuine concern or option until you brought it up!!!
(Insert full-out panic and melt-down… hyperventilating is optional)
Aaaaaaaaaaand now I am freaking out and doubting my whole life. That is what this comment has done to me. Thanks.
Also please never refer to potential partners as “fish” and the single world as the “sea“. It’s a tired metaphor that simultaneously downplays the difficulties of dating and also makes me crave ahi. I am now insulted AND hungry. Not my best combo.
4. “Don’t give up, it will happen for you.” “If you get out there, you’ll find someone.” “Don’t quit and become some crazy recluse cat-lady.”
(I think at least one of my friends is genuinely worried I will become a cat-lady, even though I am slightly allergic to cats, don’t have any, and can hardly keep plants alive.)
Here’s the thing. Most of the time, dating is fun, exciting and entertaining. And I like “being out there.” I certainly have never been accused of not trying. I do try.
However, at times dating is also depressing, frustrating and exhausting. When you are surrounded by couples or shot down by yet one more “travel deal for two” on Groupon that you can’t use as a single, it can be lonely and tiring.
At times, I need to just take a little break. Every once in a while I just don’t have the energy to optimistically peruse one more online dating profile, or endure another happy hour/cattle call. I just don’t.
Sometimes I just need a little vaycay from the work of dating. It’s a job. Anyone who says differently is selling something. (And yes, I just quoted Princess Bride. You’re Welcome.)
A break is not quitting or giving up. It’s just a short vacation.
5. “You’ll find love when you least expect it.” “It happens when you’re not looking.” “When the time is right, you will meet someone.”
That’s my least favorite. Really.
It strangely reminds me of that dumb saying about losing something and finding it in the last place you look. Well, I hope so, or you are kinda an idiot for continuing to search.
This one is the worst because it is fundamentally unhelpful and misleading.
Right after reminding me to “keep putting myself out there“, you are telling me that true love will happen serendipitously and magically out of the blue. When my eyes are shut. When I have stopped trying. And probably in the last 10 minutes of the movie.
In fact, this statement implies that I should be doing the opposite of making effort. That if I just settle into my happy single existence, life with just throw THE ONE into my path when I am not looking with hilarious side effects. Isn’t that what Rom-Coms teach us?
And while tripping over true love sure makes for a good plot line and sounds romantic (though possibly painful), I am fully confused now. I am supposed to want it without wanting it. My eyes should be open without looking. I must try without really trying.
Dating advice is a bit like Goldilocks’s dilemma. Too much or two little is no good. My level of effort (and caring and trying and wanting) must be juuuuuuuuuuuust right. Or like that fairy-tale porridge, I will be lambasted for being too hot or too cold.
I DO Know You Mean Well…
Maybe the above platitudes simply prove that I am “too picky” or will inspire some other helpful criticism. But I would still rather be single and alone than in a relationship I am ambiguous about. I am not willing to settle.
I also certainly have faults. Everyone does. We wouldn’t be human without them.
And to my friends and family and the random internet blogs trying to help us singles out, just remember this. I know you mean well. I really do. You all want me to be content and fulfilled in life. You want me to find love and happiness. I want that too.
But your advice, while well intentioned, isn’t always helpful.
And sometimes being single just sucks.
But that’s okay.