So Valentine’s Day was this weekend… how are y’all doing? Have y’all recovered from the onslaught of couples’ posts on Instagram? The endless rom-coms? The vague expectations and sudden worldwide shortage of red roses?
We (the authors of this article) know we speak for many when we say we’re glad the holiday has passed. As your local single ladies, we can attest that Valentine’s Day is far from our favorite time of year. However, it’s probably not for the reason you think.
See, the expectation is that many single people are aggressively anti-Valentine’s Day because they wish they were in relationships and resent the fact that they have to spend another day of love without a lover. To be honest, we’ve been there. But we’re here today to counter that expectation: what if we’re just… happy being single? What if the reason Valentine’s Day is annoying is because everyone thinks we’re unhappy, and they feel the need to pester us about why we aren’t in relationships?
To prove this point, we thought we’d collect a series of our favorite quotes from people who’ve asked us how and why we are single, and share our thoughts about their… interesting commentary… (Yes, these are real quotes.) We hope you enjoy:
- “Why don’t you have a boyfriend yet?”
Before asking this question, think. Either the friend in question has not met someone yet, or they are choosing to be single. In either scenario, the question is unhelpful and suggests that they should have a boyfriend despite their current circumstances, whatever those may be. Perhaps a better way to get the information you seek is to simply ask if they are looking to date at this time. Many people in such a scenario are willing to open up about where they are in that journey. Overall, it’s a more considerate way to ask about someone’s love life or lack thereof.
- “You have really been in a dry spell… maybe you should get yourself out there more.”
If you feel the need to point out that someone has not dated in a while, don’t. They are aware.
- “As soon as you’re content with the Lord, God will bring your husband.”
Well, not really! This type of statement treats the universe or God as formulaic; you plug in contentment, out comes a life partner. Additionally, this claim can create feelings of shame for wanting a relationship. There is nothing wrong with wanting a relationship as long as the person is not yearning in unhealthy ways or settling for less. For these reasons, this type of phrase is both unrealistic and potentially harmful.
- “So many people are getting married later these days… if you ask me, that’s the real pandemic!”
Oooh, boy. While I love an overwrought pandemic analogy, this comment is particularly frustrating. Is there something inherently wrong with getting married older? The only potentially time-sensitive aspect on the table would be having kids, but that is an entirely separate argument we won’t go into today. Common reasons people get married older include focusing on their career, personal-life instability, or just not having met the right person. These are all extremely valid reasons to wait to be in a relationship or get married, and the above statement ignores and stigmatizes these realities.
- “Being single is a good thing! Enjoy it while you can.”
This is actually very true, and great advice. However, we must be considerate of when and how we say this. If the person to whom you’re speaking wants to be in a relationship, it is important to acknowledge the difficulty of that unfulfilled desire. Otherwise, we dismiss their pain. After this acknowledgement and affirmation, a reminder of the joys of singleness will be better received.
- “If you ask me, God has spared you. He’s just saving you for that special someone!”
This one is hard. It’s perhaps the most well-meaning phrase in this list, but it’s still hurtful. Why? First of all, as we’ve stated, not everyone is destined for a relationship or marriage. This statement implies that the subject is supposed to get married, but “just isn’t there yet,” according to God. Secondly, it diminishes the loneliness someone may feel because they have not yet found a partner. Yes, avoiding heartbreak is good, and for us religious folks, it may be true that God is sparing us from relationships that would be hurtful. But oftentimes, our singleness isn’t a choice, and a statement like this makes it seem like God willed our loneliness. That’s sketchy theology at best and a downright lie at worst.
Here’s the bottom line: singleness is not a sickness. It’s not something to be avoided or overcome. It’s hard to internalize this lesson because we’ve been taught from day one that being with a romantic partner is always preferable to singleness. Maybe it’s because sex sells. Or maybe it’s because societies have historically wanted people to make babies, so they fed us the idea that singleness sucks in order to sell more products and grow the population.
But we’ve learned since then: whether by choice or by circumstance, your relationship status does not determine your worth as a human being. Nor is it always an indicator of happiness. Sure, we’ve met lots of people who are extraordinarily happy in their relationships, but we’ve also met folks who are just as happy single (*cough* us *cough*). Likewise, we’ve met miserable single people and miserable people in relationships.
A romantic relationship is not life’s ultimate prize — it’s just another path on the journey we call life. So from two journeying gals to the rest of y’all — single, dating, married, or “it’s complicated” — we wish you the best of luck.