For those of us women who are single, there are certain times when happily coupled people around us begin saying things that – to be frank – can send chills right down our spines.
The cringe-worthiness of such comments from our peers can be mostly attributed to the fact that we’re simply tired of hearing the same things over, and over, and over.
Here’s the main problem. For a long time, there has been the stereotypical life path women should follow: Meet someone special, date for a while, get engaged, get married, have children, and so on. So when someone’s timeline is delayed (or, they choose to not follow this path) and they find themself still single, it’s easy for others to feel concerned, or just flat out inquisitive.
And, sometimes this translates to comments and questions that are just intolerable.
Here are 10 of the top offenders, along with some thoughts on how we can tackle coming up with a calm, cool and collected response.
1. “You’re so amazing! How could you possibly be single?”
This is certainly well meaning, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating to hear. As a single woman, I find this to be one of the more common things people in relationships say to me when they find out I don’t have a significant other.
It used to make me feel good. Lately, it makes me feel…pathetic.
Here is what I find annoying about this phrase: It’s basically saying that being “amazing” is equivalent to being in a relationship. What about the ladies who have worked hard to be “amazing,” but are equally happy being both amazing and single?
Again, in defense of the couples that say this to their single friends, I know it’s not said with ill intent. But, if you see us pausing to take a deep inhale with our eyes shut after you say this, be warned we’re likely holding back a scream.
How to Kindly Respond: Take that necessary deep breath, and then tell the person that you really appreciate the compliment. And, leave it at that.
2. “So, you’re probably not going to have kids then?”
This one really stings. Like, really stings. It’s basically another, less cruel way of saying, “Hey, you! You’re not getting any younger!”
There are many single women who don’t envision themselves having children, but there are also many others who do.
For those of us who do want children, give us a little time to breathe, I beg you!
It’s no surprise that women are having children later and later in life now, so why must we be faced with this pressure to have kids at this very moment? I, for one, definitely want to have kids, but I also definitely don’t want to have them with the wrong person. So, I’ll wait it out until it’s right.
How to Kindly Respond: Calmly explain that you either do or don’t want kids, whichever is applicable. If you do, say that you haven’t met the right person, but kids are definitely in your future. The end J
3. “It will happen when you least expect it!”
I have to tell you something about least expecting it. Me sitting on my couch binge-watching TV shows on Netflix in sweatpants while eating ice cream out of a carton isn’t going to find me love, and that’s honestly when I’m really, truly least expecting it.
Yes, there are circumstances where two people meet when they really weren’t intending to, and they fall in love. However, think about how many people meet deliberately – being set up on blind dates, making online dating profiles, going to speed dating events.
I mean, there are millions and millions of examples of people meeting because they wanted to meet someone. They were putting themselves out there and expecting something to stick. And, it did.
How to Kindly Respond: Though the comment is cliché and often untrue, thank him/her for their faith that you’ll find someone. Then, quickly change that subject, girl!
4. “You’re lucky to be single! My husband and I met so young, so I never got a chance to live that single life.”
Please, oh, please stop lying to me, dear married friend. You’re madly in love with your husband. Maybe you even have a couple of adorable little children and a home with a well-manicured lawn. You’re happy. You’re very happy.
You do not wish to be me – running around dating through a bunch of jerks.
Yes, maybe sometimes when you’re in the middle of your day-to-day family routine, you might pause to think, “Ugh, life would be so much simpler if I could just do whatever I want all the time,” but I can almost guarantee the thought passes immediately when you hear me recount my recent first date with an accountant who used his hands to eat off my plate, farted at the table and insinuating that I could never be good enough to meet his mother.
How to Kindly Respond: Remind him/her how dating really isn’t all fun and games all the time, and that they’re lucky to have someone great in their life.
5. “I’m engaged!”
I really am beyond happy for my friends and family members when they get engaged. However, that doesn’t help me from feeling the teeniest, tiniest pang of jealously when I hear those words.
Yes, I likely knew it was coming. Yes, I’m excited to participate in your wedding plans. Yes, I think your fiancé is wonderful. But, yes, I wish that I too could be getting engaged.
How to Kindly Respond: Of course, the best response to this is just a huge, “Congratulations!” Their wedding time should be about them, not you, so put any feelings of jealously whatsoever on the backburner, and focus on the bride & groom.
6. “Have you considered online dating?”
Of course any woman looking for love today has at least considered online dating. Whether we’ve pulled the trigger on it or not is the question, but we’ve all at least thought about it. Online dating is so big these days, so obviously single women who are actively seeking a special someone in their life are exploring those obvious options.
Here’s the thing about online dating, though. It’s not a “sure thing” to finding a relationship, as many coupled folks would imagine.
Just like anything else it can go really well, or it can go really horribly.
And, with certain dating sites (ahem –Plenty of Fish), it usually leans towards the latter. You have to weed through men who are nothing like their profile, men who only are looking for hook-ups, and men who just want to send you revolting pictures.
Have I considered online dating? Yes, Susan, I have, and I have the mirror selfies of sweaty and grimy-looking abs to prove it. Ick!
How to Kindly Respond: Although it’s difficult not to go into detail about the iffy men you’ve met on dating sites, stow the details away, and tell them you’ve considered it, and thanks for asking.
7. “Stop being so picky!”
I’m the first to admit that I am, in fact, picky. HOWEVER! I like to think I’m picky about the right things.
I’m not one to dwell on appearance or height or taste in clothing. I’m picky about how kind the man is, and if he’s smart and driven, and if he’s family-oriented.
These things are important to me, and I don’t believe I should settle for someone who doesn’t fit this bill.
There is no reason to encourage single women to date someone who they don’t believe will treat them well. And, if they don’t see a future with them, why stay together? It wouldn’t make sense.
Just because we’re single doesn’t mean we need to date a man simply because he’s interested in us. I know many relationships that have ended up being tumultuous because the woman decided she’d rather date a rude dude than stay single. Is it worth it? Personally, I think not.
I once heard someone say that you’ll be happy about every year you waited when you finally find the right person for you, without settling. I couldn’t agree more
How to Kindly Respond: Explain that you’re not picky, per se, just certain about the core qualities you’re looking for in a significant other. There’s no way they can argue the validity of that.
8. “Well, have you talked to the ex lately?”
In my opinion, everyone who is an ex is an ex for a reason. I haven’t had any of those star-crossed lovers situations. All of my exes are men I who ultimately didn’t share my core values.
Things haven’t worked out for me because the guys I’ve dated have not been the right person. That said, anyone I’ve dated in the past I will not date again in the future. So, yes taken friends, I’d much prefer to be single than go back to dating an ex-boyfriend who wasn’t the one for me.
How to Kindly Respond: Tell them you’d prefer not to discuss it. An ex is in the past for a reason.
9. “I know someone I can set you up with.”
We’re so sure that you think we’re a perfect match for your cousin’s wife’s best friend’s brother, but unless we’re asking to be set up, maybe just…don’t.
Realizing that other singles may disagree, to me it feels like what you’re doing is forcing two people together simply because we are both at an age where being single is unacceptable.
There are two things to note about this comment. The first is that, like many other phrases on this list, we’re sure it’s coming from a good place. So, in that sense, we appreciate it. Thank you!
However, the second thing to note is that this comment sometimes makes single women feel desperate when we’re not. If we’re asking to be set up with someone, then by all means, please do. But, if we’re not, please don’t force it.
How to Kindly Respond: If you, in fact, would like to be set up – then by all means, go for it! If not, politely decline and simply say you’re not interested in getting set up at this time.
10. “So, why are you single?”
I have never once asked someone, “Why are you in a relationship?” So, why must we single women constantly receive questions about why we’re single?
This is mostly offensive because it makes us feel like there is something really, dreadfully wrong with being single. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, some women enjoy being single. And other women want a relationship, but feel strongly about holding out for the right man. Should we be forced to offer an explanation about this? No way!
How to Kindly Respond: Hold back your frustration, and just laugh it off!