There are many advantages to being single: you can focus on your career, travel anywhere you want and you can enjoy your freedom making your own decisions.
However, single people hear all kinds of rude and frustrating comments about their relationship status. If you’re in a relationship and you have a lot of single friends, make sure you’re not the one making annoying comments and hurting their feelings with so-called well-meaning advice or questions.
Take a step back and analyze how you’re treating your single friends and make sure you’re not the one that brings them frustration every day, making them feel awkward in your presence.
Love your single friends? Here are 10 things you should never ever say to them!
“Why aren’t you married yet?”
Ok, we get it, you’re probably married already so it seems normal to you to ask your friends this question, but in reality, it’s not. Everyone has their own timeline and everything in their life happens according to their time.
Even if you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s and so on… it’s ok to be single, it’s ok to not be married and have kids. You’re not falling behind, it’s just not your time, be patient!
“This question implies that being married is superior to being single and further enhances the stigma around being single,” explains Mark A. Mayfield, PhD, licensed professional counselor (LPC), Board Certified Counselor, and founder and CEO of Mayfield Counseling Centers.
Nevertheless, many people are single, because they want that. It is never ok to assume that everyone wants to get married. Even if they’re your friends and you feel like you have the right to ask them anything you want, you should remember that not everyone shares the same desires.
If you still want to ask them about their future plans, try something like this:
“A different question could be something like “What are your hopes and dreams for your future?” says Dr. Mayfield. “This allows them the opportunity to tell you about their hopes and dreams for their relationship future as well.”
“Stop being so picky”
If you’re single you’ve probably heard this more than once: “Stop being so picky, you’ll end up alone.” First of all, you have the right to be single for as long as you want, it is your decision and you must never let your friend’s opinions force you to get a partner just for the sake of having a relationship.
“Just because other people aren’t as discerning in their dating selection, doesn’t mean that you need to be the same way. You are the expert of you, and if you feel like you don’t want to say ‘yes’ to every date, you don’t have to,” says Jaime Bronstein, LCSW, psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker who specializes in relationships.
She also stresses the positive advantages that come from being “picky.”
“It’s okay to be selfish, as we have one life to live, and with the high divorce rate, there’s nothing wrong with knowing who you are, and what you want; instead of just dating anyone that comes your way,” she says.
“It’s actually quite empowering to tell someone that you honor your heart, you trust your gut, it hasn’t felt like the right fit yet, but you will know for sure when you meet your ‘person.’ You’re not willing to settle for something that doesn’t feel good to you. You’d rather be single than be in a relationship just to be in a relationship,” she adds.
So instead of arguing with someone for being picky, try saying: I’m happy for you for knowing what you want; that’s impressive and inspirational! And, of course, if you don’t desire a relationship right now, being single for years will make you a better partner in the end.
“Don’t worry, keep waiting for The One. He/she is right around the corner”
This piece of advice is wrong in so many ways. Please, do not ever say something like this to your single friends!
“Don’t be brainwashed by the idea that there is only one person for you,” says Karen McGregor, best-selling author of The Tao of Influence.
“This ‘romantic’ idea may be a fit for movies, but in real life, it hurts your ability to be open to a new way of relating to others. Specialness is not the goal—the connection is,” she explains.
“Being convinced that The One is out there waiting for you deprives you of being in the moment of now where all real connection happens. Aim for connection, not the perfection of an idealized relationship.”
Instead of telling your friends to hold out for something that may not exist, focus on the positive aspects of their life and every little thing that’s going right, by saying “The world is your oyster. What a fabulous time to be alive and meet new people!”
“You’re special and unique. Don’t settle for just anyone”
Even if you had pure intentions when giving this piece of advice to your single friend, you’re being subjective, separating them from the rest of the world.
“While this may seem like a soothing and loving suggestion, the reality is that when we convince ourselves that we are special, different, or one of a kind, we separate ourselves from others,” says McGregor.
“We take on a pattern of withdrawal or even superiority with thinking or behavior to protect ourselves from being disappointed or hurt.” If people keep reassuring themselves that they (and they alone!) are special, it could lead to problems in future relationships with partners unable to meet unrealistic standards, McGregor explains.
“While it’s important to know what makes you tick, you miss out on loads of fun, personal growth and opportunity to develop deep relationships,” he adds.
Instead, say, “How wonderful that every person you meet is giving you an opportunity to expand your viewpoints and see the world through new eyes.” I guarantee you that choosing your words correctly can make a huge difference.
“I know somebody else single…”
It should go without saying, but just because two people are both single doesn’t mean they should be in a relationship with each other.
“People have great intentions when they say something like this, but it’s extremely naïve and ignorant to assume that their matchmaking skills are up to par,” Bronstein says.
“There are so many more aspects to a love connection than simply being single. Many times, the well-intentioned person doesn’t know one or both parties well, so it’s a waste of time on everyone’s part.”
Also, it is very important to take into consideration the fact that it’s likely the person you’re trying to set up might not want to be. Do not assume that just because someone is single, they want a relationship.
“Don’t assume that the single person even wants to get fixed up; maybe they are on a dating hiatus.”
Instead, Bronstein recommends a tailored approach. “I’d like to fix you up with my best friend. I have no idea if it would work out, and if you’re interested in a fix-up, but I know you well, I know my best friend, and I know that you have a lot in common with one another, so that’s a good start. Are you open to this?”
“Why are YOU still single?”
No matter how well-intentioned you may be, this question can be interpreted the wrong way, making them feel like there’s something wrong with them for being single.
“This implies that there is something inherently wrong with the single person—when the truth is, the single person doesn’t know why they are still single, and it makes them feel like they need to provide some sort explanation or justification for their relationship status,” explains Bronstein.
“People are single for all sorts of different reasons and sometimes it’s their choice. For the ones who would like to be in a relationship, it usually comes down to the fact that they haven’t met the right one yet and/or their past relationships didn’t work out for whatever reason,” he adds.
Bronstein also explains that the emphasis on the word “you” can be problematic. “It can actually be a back-handed compliment because that’s nice that the person who is saying it thinks that you’re amazing enough to be in a relationship, but at the same time, it is implying that it’s your fault that you’re not in a relationship.” What should you say instead? Try: “Good for you for not rushing into something that’s not right, and for not settling.”
“Who broke your heart?”
As I said before, it’s not ok to assume that just because someone is single, they’re still hung up on an ex. It’s hard for some people to understand that, sometimes, being single is a choice. It’s not a burden and some people are really enjoying their lives even though they don’t have a partner.
“This question assumes that you are in pain, bitter, and resentful when, maybe you got your heartbroken—if you’re human, you’ve gotten your heart broken—but maybe you broke someone else’s heart,” says Bronstein.
“People assume that single people are all angry and resentful when they’re not.”
Instead of asking this awkward question, which sounds more like an accusation, try something more positive, like ‘Do you have any good dating stories to tell me? I want to live vicariously through you!’”
“It must be lonely being single”
Just because your idea of a perfect life includes having a relationship or getting married, doesn’t mean that everyone shares the same opinion. It’s definitely not ok to assume, even if that person it’s your friend, you’ll make them feel uncomfortable.
“This is completely making an assumption that every single person is lonely, and that’s absolutely not the case,” says Bronstein.
In fact, in this day and age, being single is something that many people in relationships look forward to because all they see are happy single friends living their best life. Moreover, just because you felt lonely when you were single, doesn’t mean that your friends are feeling the same.
“Maybe they felt lonely when they were single, but that doesn’t mean that everyone feels lonely. On the flip side, being in an unhappy relationship can leave you feeling way more alone than you ever did when you were single.”
Also, even if you feel lonely from time to time, do not let that loneliness make you enter a relationship if you’re not ready. You should fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
“People are getting married later because they have the rest of their lives to be married,” points out Bronstein.
“Singles are getting out there and having a life filled with freedom and independence. They don’t need to answer to anyone, and they are only responsible for themselves; that’s freedom and they are embracing it fully. Singles are social, and surrounded by colleagues, friends, family, and dates. Their schedules are full and there’s not a lot of time to feel alone—and if they do that’s okay, but it’s fleeting.”
“I’m sorry you can’t come out with us, but it’s only for couples”
Being a single person in your group that hasn’t got a relationship must be hard, especially if your friends are doing mostly couples activities.
“It hurts to be left out when all of your friends are in relationships and you are the lone single one,” says Laurel House, founder of Love Actually Academy.
“That being said, it’s also hard when you’re included and you’re sitting there looking at all of these happy couples and you are the lone single one. So what do you do? Whether it’s a casual dinner or a wedding if you have that one single friend it’s best to ask them if they want to come based on the reality of the relationship status of the other guests.”
Is it difficult that your younger sibling is getting married before you?
Sometimes, friends and family can really put some serious pressure on you. It’s ok that your younger sibling gets married before you. As I said in the beginning, we have our own timeline and pace.
Family dynamics are already complicated enough, do not complicate it even more!
“This statement just puts more salt into an already salty wound, while at the same time it is making an assumption that the single person is bothered by their younger sibling getting married before them,” Bronstein says.
“One sibling’s timeline should have nothing to do with the other one. Everyone goes through life at their own pace, and that’s all that matters.” Instead, short and sweet is best: “Congrats on your sibling’s wedding (period – end of the sentence.)”