Dear, sweet married friends. We know you mean well, but sometimes you really whiff it in the whole "loving your neighbor" department. Let's be real... we all do! We love you, and we know you’re trying to help. But please, for the love, stop trying to fix us.
It can be awkward for your single friends to bring this stuff up, that’s why I’m here. I'll be that person who lovingly lets you know that mayhaps there is room for growth. This time of year, like most holidays, your single friends might confide in you that they feel lonely, frustrated, disappointed, dissatisfied, or angry. They might also feel content, happy, or hopeful. They, like you, are human beings with layers of occasionally conflicting emotions. Upon hearing your single friends express these emotions, your instinct might be to say things that sound good in your head, but are... really not great.
Never fear, dear ones. I'm here to translate what you say into what we hear, then give you some good alternatives. I think it’s swell that you want to love your single friends well. You’re a step ahead of many, and that is commendable.
Since you have a genuine desire to support your single friends in a way that is not dismissive or condescending, here are five things you shouldn’t say, and what to say instead.
What Not To Say
|What you say||What we hear|
|Singleness is a gift.||How you are feeling is weird and does not make sense. Fix it so that I’m more comfortable.|
|Be thankful you have this time to focus on yourself.||You’re on your own and I have no interest in supporting you.|
|You think you’ve got it rough? I was up at 5am feeding my baby, etc.||Your problems are not as important as mine because they do not involve a biological family, therefore you are not entitled to express discomfort.|
|You should do what I did [to find a spouse].||Marriage is the ultimate solution to how you're feeling.|
|Before you can marry someone wonderful the Lord has to make you someone wonderful.||Marriage is for VIP Christians who learned everything they had to as singles and so God let them level up.|
What to Say Instead
|What you say||What we hear|
|How can I help?||You are not alone and I’m prepared to share in this difficulty with you.|
|Would you like to come over for dinner Saturday? I’d love to hear more about what’s going on in your life.||Feeling lonely sucks, and I’m going to make a concerted effort to include you in everyday moments of my life and the life of my family.|
|I’m not sure I understand. Could you tell me more about it?||I don’t fully relate, but I am invested in understanding where you’re coming from because it matters.|
|That sounds hard/frustrating/sad/lonely.||What you are experiencing is not weird or foreign. I am here with you in this.|
|I’m so happy that you’re in a good place! What helped you get there?||You have expertise that I do not and I’d love to learn from you. You've done hard work to get where you are, and that should be celebrated.|
My dear married peeps, we love you and we want to be able to trust you. I hope that these suggestions are merely a jumping off point for some beautiful, mutually encouraging and challenging relationships. When in doubt, listen more than you speak, and go for compassion and curiosity over judgement and quick fixes.
Who are two single friends you could reach out to this week and check in with? If you don't have time to meet up, what are some everyday life moments you could invite them into? It is difficult for us to reach out and ask for help all the time, so even a simple text to say you're thinking about us goes a long way.