Friday, April 11, 2014

7QT- Seven Things You Can Stop Saying to Your Single Friends

As if that title isn't long enough, the more accurate heading of this post would be-
A Public Service Announcement: Here Are Seven Phrases You Should Probably Think Twice About Saying Out Loud to Your Single Female Christian Friends Who Prayerfully Desire to Be Married.
But that seemed a bit much.

Found this Mister.  Not the one I was looking for.

I am almost 29.  I am single.  This tends to bring some interesting conversations into my spectrum.  Sometimes people say things that I know that they can't really mean, or words that they don't realize sound the way they do to single ears.  I am not upset, but think that maybe some people have been married too long to remember what it is like to be where we are at.  So for my seven quick takes this week, I thought I would put together the top seven things that we single people wish we didn't have to hear again.  I admit, I am a bit reluctant to pull this out of the draft folder because I don't want anyone to think this is written in anger (it's not) or about a specific person (most definitely not).  Maybe it will just start some conversations. 

Let's continue the discussion in the comment box.  Married friends, feel free to chime in with the things people like me need to forget from our vocabulary.  And single ladies, I'd love to hear the best quote meant to "encourage" you in your singleness! 

So here are my favorite lines, all real, all on the subject of my singleness:

"Don't worry, God has a plan for you."
Thank you very much.  I agree.  But I don't need it used as a platitude when I am being vulnerable enough to share my thoughts about the future.  Give me good advice, share your story, speak real truth, remind me to pray.  But don't give me lines from a greeting card.

"You are single?  Good for you.  Stay that way."
I am sorry that you are that bitter about the institution of marriage, but don't assume I feel the same.

 "It must be nice to have so much free time with no husband and kids to take care of."
(The negative runner up to this one is: "She can take care of it.  It's easier because she is single.")
Yes, being single usually gives us more radical availability than a woman who is married with kids.  However, remember that flexibility and free time are not the same thing.  Many of us single girls are trying to fill our time with good work and service, not soap operas and bonbons.  Don't look at our work and say, "Gosh, this girl needs to get a husband."

 "I just can't believe you're not married.  You are so awesome and wonderful and sweet and pretty!  
Why aren't you married?"
Good question.  Your compliment is appreciated and kind, but how am I suppose to answer this?  Maybe- "Thanks, I think I am awesome too, but apparently men don't agree."  There is no good way to respond.  We thank you for your nice words, but maybe think about how uncomfortable the conversation might be after you say them.

"You really need to try online dating/bar hop more often/lower your expectations/
meet my husband's-second-cousin's-neighbor's-single-son."
Know me well?  Recommend place that I could be socializing to meet new people.
Know me really well?  Set me up with a good man that has more qualifications for a date than "also single."
Know me really really well?  Call me out on the unrealistic things I believe or do relating to dating and marriage. Challenge me to be the woman I am suppose to be while waiting to meet the man God has in store for me.
Don't know me?  Maybe don't give me advice.

(A quick update- the same day that I posted this, a good friend who is trying out online dating through a Christian site was propositioned by a polygamist.  Yes, propositioned by a polygamist.  Online dating does not fix all woes.)

 "Sure you're not suppose to be a nun?"
This is for all the Catholic ladies out there.

For my Protestant sisters it might be something more like,  
"Might you be called to serve as a permanent  missionary at an orphanage in Uganda?"

The Vocation to Religious Life or other service is beautiful, and holy, and an incredible sacrifice.  I respect all who have given their lives over to Christ for the service of the Church.  However, remember we all have prayed and discerned and looked for the will of God.  You can invite me to consider Religious Life, you can encourage me to discern, but don't assume that being a Nun is some second-best life that I accept after not finding a man.  There is a lot more to it than that.

"Wow.  It must be awesome to have such a fulfilling career
/successful business/sleep through the night/time to travel/incredible hobby..."
Don't think we wouldn't trade it all.  In the end, the jobs, the hobbies, the travel, the recognition... they all mean nothing.  What will be lasting are the children created by a couple and God, the souls led to heaven within a family, the saints made by marriages.

Being single is hard.  Those of us that are honest know that marriage is harder.  But marriage is a work for sanctity, a pursuit of Christ that is done hand in hand with someone else.  The two become one with a single desire for heaven.  There is a great need for holy marriages in the world because the formation of the future takes place in the home.

So while I try to wait in a dignified and worthy manner, these common "single girl" comments and questions are hard to hear.  We single ladies are not all looking for Disney princes and Pinterest worthy weddings.  We are willing to make sacrifices and to model Christ & His Church within our vocations, just like you.  Hopefully, we can all work together for the Kingdom, even when as women (me included!), our words sometimes get in the way of our intentions.

For more Seven Quick Takes, probably all on a totally different topic, go visit Jen at Conversion Diary!


  1. Very well put. Your insight into marriage is very encouraging, too. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Katherine. I don't think I have much insight, but I do have a lot of years of being put into awkward conversations :)

  2. This is great! Well done.
    Though I'm not sure it's fair to say marriage is harder. Perhaps each situation is equally difficult, in its own way. Having a teammate makes a big difference.

    1. Thanks! I appreciate your opinion that marriage may not actually be "harder"- I just wanted to be clear that I am not thinking that marriage solves all life's problems. And I would love to have a teammate :)

  3. I think it SUCKS that you're not married!

    Is it okay if I say that?

    1. Yes. Yes you can. You have to listen to most of my singleness rants, so you get to say what you want to me!

  4. Katie,
    I saw your 7 quick takes over at Conversion Diary and the title pulled me in. I realize this must be subjective to a certain degree, but what can married people say to singles? Hopefully all the people saying stupid things have good intentions...or at least most of them. I find myself just keeping my mouth shut unless I know the person well, and then it's not just a comment but a conversation.
    Also, I run a website for Catholic women where we anonymously share our stories of how we live the moral teachings of the church, specifically in regards to marriage and sexuality. The purpose is to acknowledge that although it can be difficult to live a counter cultural lifestyle, there is great fruit and joy in that struggle. We share the stories to support each other and encourage each other. I know there are many women out there in your situation because one of our most popular stories is about a single woman. Would you please look at the website and prayerfully consider contributing your story? thanks - emily

    1. Hi Emily! Thanks for reading. I'll be the first to admit that my thoughts are very subjective, and that it can be hard to know what to say to someone living in a different vocation than ourselves. I know that sometimes I have to think or bite my tongue before saying something about marriage or raising kids, so I think it should be the same for singleness.
      I agree that many times the comments are meant well or at least are meant with no malice, and I always listen to what people who know me well are saying, even if it is brutally honest and hard to hear.
      I will check out your website- it sounds right up my alley. Could you send me more info about contributing to my email? katherine (dot) bogner (at) gmail (dot) com.

  5. I think it might be rude to *assume* someone loves (or should love) being single .... but it's not like it's wrong to love being single! A single friend of mine, who wants to get married someday, loves her single life. I said something intended to be sympathetic to her woeful state, and she was like, "No, I'm not sad! It clearly isn't God's will for me to be married just yet, so I'm enjoying this stage of my life!" It was a good attitude to have, and one I wish I'd had before I'd gotten married. I was always in such a rush to get to the next thing .... still am, to be honest, wishing my kids would grow up into more fun stages then the ones they're in. When will I learn to bloom where I'm planted, and that I'm going to miss this?

    1. I actually do love the work and ministry that I can do because of my singleness. I also work really hard to not question God's vision for my life and His timetable. I strive to have the attitude that you speak of in your friend, but I have to honestly say that I often fall short! I will continue to work on my contentedness, and thank you for sharing the great example!

  6. I once asked my neighbor at the age of 10, 'Why don't you have a husband?"

    She replied, "I do. His name is John, and I keep him in the basement."

    Lesson learned.

    She also became my confirmation sponsor later on.

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  8. Amazing insight! Having recently gone through a breakup with the guy we all thought was "the one" (seriously, he had a ring picked out & everything) it's been hard for some of my friends & family to know how to talk to me. And it's even harder for me to listen to the vague generalities or ill formed advice of people who really don't know me & probably shouldn't even be voicing opinions. I'm struggling to find the good about moving on & accept that this was obviously not God's plan for my life, but people telling me what I already know is not helpful. So, thank you for very kindly voicing what we all would like to say!

    1. Bethany, I am so sorry about your breakup and the challenging conversations that have happened as a result. I can't even imagine. I know that I always try to assume that the person who says something only has the best of intentions, but it can be hard. Prayers for the healing of your heart!

  9. Number Five... NUMBER FIVE!!! Amen and amen and amen! Thank you for posting these, and I love that you said how this isn't in anger or calling out on particular person. This needed saying, and you said it well and with grace. Thank you!

  10. I love #5 also. Love it all but 5 is my fave, I have gotten it a few times. In fact I may have gotten them all at one time or the other.

    1. I only wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard a version of #5...

  11. I found your blog through a link at ConversionDiary, and this post is really good, so thank you for writing, and I'm looking forward to checking out the rest of your blog!

    I'm single, but I'm only 23 and I live in a country where pre-25 marriages are rare, so I'll be honest and say that I don't get these comments very much. I'm lucky.

    One thing that does happen, though, is that if a friend sees me chatting with a guy, she might say," and X were chatting for a looooong time. hey?" This is pretty innocuous, and it doesn't annoy me, but a statement like that can make it a little hard for me to "keep it real", so to speak. Sometimes men like to talk to me. Perhaps that's because they're interested. Perhaps it's because they're friendly and chatty. Very rarely will it result in my being asked out by him. All the while, I'm making a conscious effort to not get my hopes up, and to remind myself that a conversation is proof of nothing other than that particular man wanting to talk to me at that particular moment, for a reason that I can't know for sure. All of that effort on my part can come crashing down when a friend winks and says, "Soooo......"

    Obviously I don't want to get too sensitive about minor things like that, and it honestly doesn't really bother me that much, but often I think that single women can need help in "keeping it real".

    1. oh man I have gotten this. A few weeks ago my sister got married and she wanted to know if my friend and cousin are now dating b/c they were taking photos together and hanging out........b/c you know taking photos together is equivalent to dating....

    2. Hahaha!!! Look, if a guy is voluntarily talking to and taking photos with a girl, I'd go out on a limb and suggest that he probably has some interest in her. But even 'interest' does not mean 'dating', nor does it even necessarily result in a date.

    3. I get/hear this all the time. You can't make eye contact with a guy without your friends marrying you off :)

  12. LOVE THIS POST! I think I've heard it all. I had a friend that grew up in an unhealthy church environment and women used to tell young girls if you were like 25+ and still not married that god was punishing you for not sending you your husband! Makes these comments sound nice!

    Yes being single has it's perks but it's not all fun and games either..we have our own struggles and because we're single we usually have jobs and work 30-50 hours a week so we don't have TONS of free time....people I think forget that part and think we just sit at home all day in the we have bills to pay!

    1. Thanks, Beth Anne!
      Wow, I have never gotten anything as awful as what was said to your friend. Ouch!

  13. I had to come over from Conversion Diary with that title! I was married pretty young (24), but we lived in LA and I was in grad school so I would get lots of questions like "'re religious?"

    When I was early in pregnancy with my son, one of my colleagues found out for the first time that I was married and said "HOW old are you???" and I thought "Honey, you don't know the half of it."

    Now we're back in Texas where getting married in your mid twenties and having two kids before you're 30 isn't strange at all, but in secular Southern California academia I felt like such a pariah. Marriage was treated like a disease; (almost) like the mirror of your experience.

    Here in Texas, my 31 year old brother is a bachelor and his 5 best college friends got married at 23. He really wants to be married with a family but, lordy is he sick of being set up with cousins and nieces. Anyhow, thanks for writing this because I DO want to be sensitive to friends who are still single and hope to be married.

    Oh, and my big bro is very cute... ;)

    1. Wow, Kate, I can't imagine it being weird to be married at 24. Here in the Midwest I am definitely on the upper end of the typical marrying age. How interesting that it really is that different in various regions around the country. It must be hard for your brother- most of my high school and college friends are married with kids, and my two younger sisters are also married. I love all of them (and their husbands and their kids) but it is getting harder and harder to be the only single in my social groups. Thanks for wanting to think about the single friends that you are around.
      And I have always been a fan of cute Texans :)

  14. Feeling like I'm enjoying a good glass of wine with you through this post :) I get #7 a lot nowadays...silly geese, where do they ever come up with these ideas :) Miss you beautiful friend!

    1. Ahhh! How did I miss your comment, Rach? :) Oh, #7. Things never replace people, you know. Can't WAIT to see you in about a month!

  15. It seems like EVERYONE has something to say about EVERYONE! You have people talking to you about being single, while other people have something to say about the married woman with three or more kids. (They must keep you busy! How do you handle all your kids?!? Were all your children planned? Are you going to stop after this child?) It seems like people think they are experts on what is best for the other person. Whether you are married, single, religious, whatever..... people have something to say.