People say a lot of stupid things to single people, especially in the church. "Like what?" you may ask. Let me share some of the most popular things Christian singles are sick of hearing, in no particular order.
It'll happen when you least expect it (or when you stop looking)!
Well that's good, because I stopped expecting it about 5 years ago, so my expectations can't be any lower! And I've never actively looked for a mate, so...done! I've stopped looking! But seriously, this platitude doesn't help. In any situation, this is the least helpful thing you can say to a single person. How do you stop dreaming about something you want in your life? Also, if I am one of 4 single women in my church and not opposed to marriage, you'd better believe I'm looking at the ring finger of every new guy who comes through that door, especially if they're attractive. Even if I'm not actively looking to get married, I'm still paying attention.
Maybe you're called to singleness!
This is usually directed at young people (what?!). Oh, you're not married before you can legally drink alcohol? Guess you never will be! (But you're Christian, so you better not drink any of that alcohol, ever). Maybe I am called to be single forever, but you are certainly not the one allowed to point that out, or even ask me about it. I promise you the thought has crossed my mind that I'll be single forever, and my feelings on that subject are complicated. After about 25 years old, the single in question tends to be viewed as a spinster. I've even had people use the actual word with me! (I just turned 28).
Singles are a picture of heaven, because in heaven there is no marriage.
I'm sorry, what Bible are you reading? This is not just bad theology, it's a complete lie. True, there is no marriage between man and woman, but there is absolutely marriage! Bride of Christ? Marriage Supper of the Lamb? Ringing any bells? The Bible frequently refers to marriage between a man and woman as a picture of our relationship with Christ. We are the bride of Christ, anticipating heaven because that is where the marriage is finalized. So go read the New Testament, and then try to tell me singles are an example of heaven, more than marriage. But this is closely related to another cringeworthy statement...
Just be married to Jesus!
Okay...but is Jesus going to bring me a Coke, and cuddle with me and Netflix when I have a migraine or a bad day at work? Will he swap the laundry if I forget? Wash the dishes? Help make the travel arrangements? Make babies with me?? Yes, I love Jesus, but a relationship with him is a totally different caliber. I know people mean well with this, but just stop. It's not encouraging and it's twisting scripture. The creepy cousin to this one is the: "Let Jesus be your lover!" No no no no. No. Are you seriously telling me to sleep with Jesus? Do you hear how creepy/crazy that sounds? Besides, that raises a whole bunch of uncomfortable questions and theological debates that I would rather not deal with. Let's just leave this at: it's really hard to not have a physical connection with someone.
You're so lucky you're single! Marriage is so hard!
a.k.a: You're so lucky you can do whatever you want, whenever you want!
Yeah, marriage is hard. But you know what else is hard? Always being alone. Sleeping alone every night. Not being invited to parties because "it's all couples and we didn't want you to feel awkward". Dealing with bills and illnesses and crises and other grown-up life stuff all by yourself. Even with great family or friends around, it's not easy to be single. A married woman recently said, "My husband's out of town this week, I'm kind of scared all by myself at night!" Guess what singles are feeling every night? Life is hard, no matter what. Marriage is hard, but so is being single. This isn't a contest of what's better, married or single, so stop competing. They both have their perks and pitfalls.
A woman's highest calling is to be a wife and mother.
Recently I attended a women's meeting, where it was stressed that all women should attend. So I did. But everything that was discussed pertained only to married women (protecting your husband from porn, serving your husband, etc). Finally, someone braver than I, asked "What about us single women?" The answer was essentially that we should help the married women. I'm all for helping my fellow women, married or not, but that is not my only purpose in life. I have a unique call on my life, and it's not just to raise a family. Is that the ultimate calling for some women? Absolutely. Jenny Acuff wrote a great post on her husband's blog about this once. A woman's dream to be a wife/mother is not any less or more important than what I'm called to. But doing anything other than what God has designed me for is sinning against Him and abandoning his call on my life. And why is marriage the highest calling for a woman, but not for a man? Oh, let's not go there....
You should do it [extreme activity, traveling, class, etc] now before you settle down.
Get it out of your system.
This one I tend to just smile and nod to. People don't seem to get it. My goals and favorite activities aren't magically going to change just because there's a ring on my finger. I love to travel. No, correction, I need to travel. It's in my blood and I get anxious if I don't travel every few months. That's not going to go away if I get married. So you know what? I'm going to marry someone who is also addicted to travel. We'll be those crazy people taking their babies on trips to Spain or Thailand or Kenya or Antarctica. Putting a carseat on a camel or whatever. I'm not going to change who I am just to get married. And if I find someone amazing who doesn't want that kind of lifestyle? Then he's not the right one for me. I'd rather be single. Simple as that.
You're not married, you can [work extra shifts, work holidays, babysit my kids, serve at our church event, etc].
No, thank you. I have a life, too. And a family, even if they didn't come from my body. I want my free time just as much as you do, to do the things I enjoy. Just because I don't have a partner doesn't mean I don't have a social life. You chose to have add a spouse/kids to your life, you figure out the scheduling. I've chosen not to have those things in my life at this point for a reason.
You want to be single?! Don't worry, you'll change your mind when you find the right guy.
You're starting to sound like the aunt in My Big Fat Greek Wedding: "You don't eat no meat? Okay, I'll make lamb." Believe it or not, some people don't want to get married! *gasp* The horror! But it's okay if a person doesn't want to be in a relationship. Paul even commends singles! Also, remember back in number 4? You were jealous that I'm single! Why are you trying to convince me that I need to be married? Singleness isn't a disease you need to cure. Aren't I good enough on my own?
Have you tried online dating? This bar/class/place? You should try....
No, stop. Don't tell me what to do. Just because it worked for you or your third cousin's hairdresser or whoever, doesn't mean it's right for me. Also, have you seen the creeps out there lately? I had a guy come up to my friend in a pub, swerve in her face, and then high five as a way of flirting. What?! Even if the idea of online dating doesn't completely freak you out (like it does me), it's not easy to weed out the weirdos and find a keeper. There's an entire TV show dedicated to how people trick others in online relationships. The struggle is real. The evil twin of this statement is the dreaded: "You're too picky." No, I just have standards. I've got great things going on in my life, I don't want to mess it all up with a drunk, jobless, baby daddy just so I can have a ring on my finger.
You are so great! Why aren't you married yet?
Ugh. Seriously? Again, maybe I want to be single. And if I want to be married, but I'm not, how do I know why I'm not?! This statement is like one of Barney Stinson's negative compliments. It seems like a compliment, but it hints that there's something wrong with me. It's worse when it's a single member of the opposite sex asking you. Uhh....I don't know, but why don't you tell me, since you apparently have no interest in asking me out, either? This one also has a creepy cousin: If I weren't married, I definitely wouldn't let you get away. Dude, stop. Just stop. Go back to your wife and leave me alone.
There are a lot of stupid things that people say to singles, but at the heart of it all is the fact that many of the questions and comments made about our singleness make us feel less than. Like we're not worth anything because we're by ourselves. Remember: singles are people too! We have hopes and dreams, and goals, and jobs and everything you do....just minus the spouse. Stop trying to give us unsolicited advise, stop trying to fix us, stop downplaying the joys of marriage, and just be our friend.
Thank you to all the ladies of 30DoH and ATS for your suggestions!
My fellow singles, what's your least favorite thing to hear regarding your marital status? Did I miss a good one?