Monday, April 23, 2012

How to Talk to a Single Person

When hanging out with a single person, I understand that it can be difficult. Our state of singleness seems to consume us and we talk of little else (but let's be honest: sometimes you bring it up when you ask if I'm dating someone). It can be a lot like new parents that talk of nothing but their children's poop and sleep schedules -- and I'm sure, just as annoying. (Though, c'mon! Sometimes our date catastrophes and inexperienced views of what married life should be like are entertaining!)

I get that it is annoying when some days we take on that view that we will be single forever. That despite the fact that we know we are awesome and quite a catch, we sound more pessimistic, downtrodden, and deflated of self-esteem. BUT, there are some things that you can say that will pull us right out our funk... and make us want to give you a facer.

Bottom line is: We don't want your pity. We don't want your false promises. And we really don't want to be told that if only we would do/say/be this THEN it will happen. Also, we never ever want to hear that we somehow have it better because we are single.

That pitying tone of, "Awwwwww............Someday it will be your turn" or, "it's obviously not the right time for you" is enough to make me roll my eyes and walk away, but I'll probably be imagining something a lot more violent as I do it.

I also don't want to hear about how you miss your single days.

And I really don't know how to answer you when you ask me why. Why. WHY? How do you expect me to answer that? Oh, I suppose I'm still single because I'm a heartless raunch that is only interested in a guy for his money and flashy sports car. But really, it's probably because I'm thinking about it all the time. And everyone knows that you have to stop thinking about it before anything will really happen. "You just have to give up, and that's when the magic happens."

Reassurance given with a promise that it will happen because "you're pretty enough, I'm sure you'll find someone really soon," is not reassurance. Can you give me a written guarantee on that? Where do I sign? And what do I get when it doesn't happen?

And please, for the love, don't ask, "Have you tried online?" It seems to me that every married person I know has suggested this as the go-to solution to not having a man. Let me tell you about online dating: it's not for everyone. It's creepy and weird, and yes, some people have made great, successful matches from it. But also, some people have married wanted felons and been knocked up by a total strangers who they thought they knew from meeting online. The whole process is inorganic and just because it worked for your cousin's best friend's sister's coworker (or, if it worked for your brother) doesn't mean it will work for me.

That, of course, goes with any and all dating advice... Your story is not my story.

I'm torn about things like party invites, babysitting, and set-ups.

I want to celebrate your birthday, and if that means being the only single person in the room, then I'll suck it up and do it. But don't expect me to want to spend my Friday nights, or even weekday nights, hanging out in a group where I won't get the chance to meet new, single people. Also, I don't mind keeping you company if your husband is out of town, but if that the only time you have to hang out with me, then why are we still friends? I'm not hanging out in the rafters waiting for your phone call just because you're "single" for the night or the weekend.

I'm perfectly happy to babysit your kid(s) if you and the hubster need a night on the town. I am. (And some of you out there haven't been taking advantage of this!) But I know other friends who have been totally taken advantage of because they are single, and siblings or friends just expect them to want to give up their nights to babysit for free because they don't want to pay a babysitter and don't think the single person has anything better to do. Also, I can't do it last minute all the time. I have a life.

Set-ups. They are terrifying and awkward, but they are a lot more natural than online dating. I hear all the time from married friends, "I just wish I knew some normal, single guys for you!" And then there are the ones that have somebody picked out and talk them up, but then nothing ever comes from it because they don't follow through. On the one hand, don't assume that because I'm single and he's single, we're bound to mesh. But on the other hand...

My favorite person to talk to when I'm feeling particularly bad about being single is my friend Roberta. She does it the right way, because she's full of hilarious anecdotes, tells me why I'll one day make a great partner to some lucky man, and let's me talk about all the things I would do if I had a man. I usually hang up the phone with my ego four times its original size.

Bottom line: Mostly, when single people are venting about their lack of romance and relationship, they are really in need of a diversion. You want to know how to talk to a single person?

All we need is a little acknowledgement that our loneliness is justified. Give us a hug. (We don't get these enough!) And help us remember what a catch we really are.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man, you should call me! I love crazy single dating stories... and I'll gladly commiserate with you about "where have all the good guys gone?" I have way too many friends not being snatched up by eligible bachelors... *cough idiots cough*

    of course then you'd be bored to tears by my new parent talk, which i feel is sooo much worse. I'd rather hear your single stories than other new parents and I talking about the most boring baby stuff!

    Anyhow, good luck with all this. Honestly, I'm not one of those people who will say I wish I was still single, I don't. It was great, but often hard and frustrating. However, I will be that annoying person that says... you should take a day this week, sleep in, wake up around 9 or 10 and then smile to yourself and say "ahhh my friends who are parents aren't waking up feeling this good!"


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