How to Deal with the Pressure to Date from Family & Friends

Dating is a lot of fun... when it's on your own terms. But if your parents repeatedly ask why you're still single every time they see you, or your friends nag you about dating a guy you don't have feelings for, you probably want to roll your eyes at every couple on campus. And besides, when did everyone you know turn into the infamous Princeton Mom?

It's hard to be upset with family and friends who nag you about dating because they love you and only want to see you happy. Most of the time, they might not even realize their words are irritating or hurtful. So, why do they pile on the pressure? We looked at four common situations and broke down how to handle each one. Single ladies, study up!

Situation #1: Your family seems more interested in your love life than your other accomplishments

The situation:

You put in long hours studying for Orgo, you're a rockstar at your internship, and have awesome summer plans. When you have so many exciting things going on in your life, it feels almost like an insult when those around you seem to fixate on your love life.

“One time my aunt expressed concern about my lack of relationship to my mother, but before she could say anything, my uncle thankfully piped up and said that I had much more interesting things going on,” says Elyssa, a 2010 Carnegie Mellon grad. “I have all this stuff going on (I just had some photos published in Glamour), but they're more interested in my dating life. I do lots of other interesting things and I wish they'd ask about that instead!”

How to deal:

Give them a one-two punch. Offer a short and sweet answer about whatever's going on in your dating life right now, then segue into a topic you'd love to talk about. Try, “I'm not currently seeing anyone, but I'll be sure to let you know if that changes. By the way, did I mention my photos were just published in Glamour?”

“The best way for college girls to respond when their parents try to push dates on them is by assuring them that you’re happy in your life and that right now you’re choosing to focus on yourself and your schoolwork,” says relationship expert Lindsay Kriger. Parents want to see their kids happy, so the more you can assure them that you’re feeling great and that you have a full life without a guy, the faster they’ll back off. To ease their concerns, let them know that when you’re ready to date you’ll let them know.”

Alternatively, flip the question back on them! This tactic works especially well with nosy friends or relatives your own age. Use a line like, “No, I'm single right now. What's going on in your love life?”

Either they'll take the bait and be happy to dish about their relationship, or they'll see firsthand how frustrating the question is.

Situation #2: They're comparing you to your siblings

The situation:

You and your sibs have been compared since the day you were born. Grades, friends, extracurriculars... in just about every way parents, teachers, and friends can measure you against each other, they probably have. While you might have long been over the fact that big sis is two inches taller or your brother scored higher on his SATs, it sucks when your love life is examined next to theirs.

“I have an older sister who's pretty much a serial-dater—boyfriend after boyfriend. I'm not looking to date just anyone and my family's comparisons of my sister and I are a little demeaning,” says Kathryn from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

How to deal:

A firm talk with your parents (or whoever is making the comparison) should help put the discussion to rest.

Kaneisha Grayson, author of Be Your Own Boyfriend, offers this script. “Mom and Dad, I really appreciate that you are both concerned about my future and my happiness. However, I'm an adult now, and I know what will make me happy.”

Don't be afraid to enlist your siblings, too. Let them know that the comparisons bother you, and they might be able to pass the word along to Mom and Dad, too!

Situation #3: Your love life is on the back burner because of poor timing

The situation:

Sure, you might consider dating... if you weren't about to graduate, move back home for the summer, or take a semester abroad. In those cases, it doesn't make sense for you to even think about dating – you have way bigger priorities to think about!

“Pretty much every time I go home my mom asks me if I'm dating anyone yet. I think she just means it in a friendly way, but it does get a little annoying sometimes! I just kindly remind her that I'm not interested in anyone at the moment,” says Maria from the University of Delaware. “I'm also about to graduate and move to a different state so it wouldn't make sense for me to start dating someone now, anyways.”

How to deal:

Again, the key here is to focus on all the exciting opportunities coming your way, like graduating, starting your first post-college job, or whatever big move you're about to make. If the negative comments persist, let whomever you're talking to know that you'll be open to dating sometime down the line.

Situation #4: You're expected to bring a date to a formal event

The situation:

No matter how confident you are, you might panic when your sorority formal comes around or you're invited to a wedding with a plus-one. When you're forced to scramble for a date, the days and weeks leading up the event place a giant spotlight on your single status. Uncomfortable? You betcha.

“I have a few weddings of close friends coming up and I wasn't extended the 'plus one' on my invitation, mostly because they know I won't have anyone to bring,” says Kathryn. “My sister even joked about me potentially being a lesbian. It's all fun and jokes but it makes me a little uncomfortable and sometimes the jokes can get under my skin.”

How to deal:

First off, check if you actually need a date. In the case of a school or sorority dance, ask the organizer if dates are necessary. Chances are good that you can go solo or with a group of friends! If you're given a plus one at a wedding and are currently single, RSVP for one and attend by yourself. There's no reason to scramble for a date just because you're allowed to bring one!

Situation #5: Your family and friends constantly try to set you up

The situation:

Your family and friends keep suggesting guys to set you up with, whether it's your mother's Pilates instructor's son, your mother's decorator's son, or your mother's friend's son – all real examples from one summer of my life! It's fun to play matchmaker for others, but less fun to be on the receiving end when you're not interested.

How to deal:

Kriger explains how to navigate this situation. “It’s not always easy to say no to a friend who’s trying to push a potential date on you. You have to learn to just say, 'No, I’m not interested.' It’s okay to let your friends know that right now you’re focusing on yourself and taking a break from the dating scene. Be honest with them – let them know that your open to meeting someone by chance if it happens (if this is true), but you aren’t interested in being set up right now. Remember to thank them for thinking of you! (If it’s just the guy you’re not interested in, be honest about that too.)”

 

It's frustrating to fight off unwarranted questions and comments about your dating life, but it's simply an unfortunate reality of being young. Next time your blood starts to boil, think about this positive twist on the situation: your family and friends love you and want you to be happy – even if they don't know quite the right way to express that. (And hey, they're probably hoping for some good gossip, too!)