What You Might Be Saying to Your Single Friend That Isn’t Helpful
You found love! Mazel Tov!
I loved being your wing-woman. I made myself scarce when you started vibing with that cute guy during our girls-night-out, played third wheel when you began dating, helped him pick out your ideal engagement ring, bought you drinks at your bachelorette party, and danced at your wedding.
Now that you’re married, I love still being friends, but sometimes you say things about relationships that aren’t helpful for me as a single woman. So, as I’m still navigating the world of dating and heartbreak, here are some things that aren’t the most helpful for me to hear:
“It’ll happen when you least expect it.”
I understand that people are trying to say “you can’t control when you’ll meet someone,” or “there’s beauty in meeting someone in a serendipitous way,” or “try not to exude desperation, it turns people off.” However, there’s many reasons why this statement is so unhelpful:
– How can you “least expect” something? The harder you try to not think about it, the more you expect it. People are doing mental gymnastics trying to convince themselves they don’t want something that they actually do.
– In every other arena of our lives, we work towards our dreams. Would you ever advise someone “you’ll find thousands of dollars in savings when you least expect it” or “you’ll graduate college when you least expect it?” No. We should map out a path to our dreams, appreciating it can take hard work to get there.
– Most singles likely had a season in their life when they had no interest in dating someone…. And didn’t. If this statement was actually true, wouldn’t those people all have met “their person” during those seasons when they actively were choosing to be single?
– This makes it seem like it’s shameful to desire love. For every person who finds love when they least expect it, there’s another who found love by searching high and low actively expecting to find their beloved.
What’s more helpful to say: “It felt like it took forever to find ‘my person,’ and sometimes singleness really hurt. But one day, just a normal day, everything changed. Literally any day is a day your life could change forever.”
“You don’t really want to get married, it’s so hard.”
It’s true I don’t know how hard your marriage is… Or isn’t. Every couple deals with their own set of issues. Some issues are really hard, harder than others.
As your friend, if you’re dealing with some difficult challenges in your marriage, I’d love to be a source of encouragement. Please, give me a call.
However, just as I desire a beautiful relationship for you, I also desire it for myself. I’ve been waiting a really long time to find it. So please don’t minimize my desires, just because marriage is hard.
What’s more helpful to say: “Marriage is really hard.” That’s it. Don’t tell me what I want.
“I remember dating in college, so I totally know how you feel.”
Dating at 22 is very different than dating at 32 or 42. When you’re in college you may feel like you have all the time in the world. Marrying young is very different than marrying older, as well. If you married young, let’s just acknowledge that our 20s were very different.
However, when you’ve had 10 or 20 years of relationships not working out, it can feel like each failed relationship is a compounding pain. Dating in college feels like you’re just one party away from meeting your next fling. It’s loaded with hormones and butterflies in your stomach.
Dating at an older age is less hormonal and more mature. You’re facing questions like “could I be a step-parent?” or “should we hurry into this wedding, we’re afraid time’s running out to have kids?”
What’s more helpful to say: “How is dating now different than in college?”
“Are you guys planning on getting married soon?”
Sometimes being single means you’re dating, but not married. After a certain age, it makes sense that people ask if you and your partner are heading towards matrimony, but it’s better to let your friend bring up the topic.
Sometimes couples are going through a rocky patch and this question only makes that conflict harder. Or maybe they just don’t ever want to get married. Or sometimes they just don’t know yet.
This may seem like an exciting question to ask, but it can become a source of pressure for a couple who may just need more time to figure this answer out.
What’s more helpful to say: “How are things going in your relationship?” That’s it, I’ll volunteer the rest.
“I got married before Tinder. It seems fun. Can I do some swiping?”
Nope. That’s my app. Back away.
Granted, some people may be down to let you play with their dating apps, but it’s rude to ask. Would I ever say “registering for wedding gifts seems so fun! Can I borrow that laser gun and register for your gifts at Target?”
If I volunteer to let you swipe left, have at it! But these are real people, not a game, so probably better to borrow my phone to play Pokemon Go.
What’s more helpful to say: “I can’t believe how much dating has changed in recent years. Do you think dating apps make it better or worse?”
The bonds of friendship are strong enough to last through all the seasons of our love life, because you can uniquely offer me support in a way that no relationship can. I need you and love you, so let’s ride-or-die for years to come.
What do you wish more people would be sensitive to when talking about relationships?
Images via Cacá Santoro