To be single in a coupled world isn’t always easy. From the practical – I don’t split costs with anyone, to the more entertaining aspects – (Netflix and chill, anyone?), there are challenges.
I’m 45 years of age, and I’ve never been married. I’m not brave, or lonely, or sad. I’m just me. And it’s fine. It really is. Honestly. I have amazing friends, a great family, the best dog, a home, and a job I love. I’m happy. I ASSURE YOU.
But sometimes it does feel like I’m an outsider…and maybe I am. I contend that the biggest challenge that single people face is the casual judgment of coupled people. It’s inescapable. On one hand, I get it. Couples are always so deliriously happy that why wouldn’t EVERYONE want to be in a relationship? (That was sarcasm, Dear Reader.)
The first question is usually “Aren’t you LONELY?”. Some single folks are, I’m sure. But speaking for myself, I was an only child. I quite enjoy my own company. From what I’ve seen in the world, being in a relationship doesn’t guarantee a life without loneliness. In fact, the loneliest place to be is in a relationship that isn’t working. So, don’t make assumptions.
Sometimes the questions steer to my long-term well being. “Are you married?” “No.” “Do you have children?” “No.” “Well, who is going to take care of you in your old age?”. Oh my. Brace yourself: Having children is no guarantee that anyone will care for you in your old age. Additionally, having kids because you’re afraid of not having anyone to take care of you when you get old is a crappy reason for having kids. Kids shouldn’t be born with a job.
Often, couples will delve too deeply and quickly into questions about my dating life. It’s as if as soon as they find out I’ve never married, they go into scientist mode. I must be studied! I have, thus far, resisted the urge to ask inappropriately probing questions about their marriage in response to their focus on my relationship status, but I can’t guarantee how much longer I’ll be on my best behavior.
I think some people find it hard to believe that I’m not actively looking for a partner. If it happens, great. My life, however, is full. I’m not waiting to be completed. I’m me, and I love me a LOT. Maybe that’s intimidating, but I’m also not looking to partner with anyone who would be intimidated by me.
So, how can coupled people be kind to single people?
First, don’t assume that the single person has no plans or responsibilities – their “plans and responsibilities” may differ from yours, but they are just as valid. It isn’t your place to judge. Don’t assume your single coworker can always just fill in when the kids get sick, or there’s a holiday. Single people like holidays, too.
Secondly, don’t tell single people “It will happen when you stop looking”. Really? Do you have some sort of crystal ball that actually works? Is your name Miss Cleo? Stop it. Be a friend. Don’t look at them as a project that needs to be fixed. Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you have the answer to the questions of life – it just means you’ve lived your life differently than some other people. You may be happy with your choices, but they’re yours. Single people have made different choices, and that’s cool too.
Let’s learn to coexist in harmony by forging meaningful relationships and thus forgoing assumptions. Who knows? You may end up with a new best friend.