For the month of December – in honor of Dressember – I’ll be blogging everyday! Thoughts on anything from fighting for justice to feminism, from dresses I’m wearing to books I’m reading, and everything in between.
It’s officially that time of year again. Nights are spent cuddled up together on the couch. Weekends involve dates to the ice skating rink. Stressing about what you’re going to get each other for Christmas / how to hide it from each other / when to even buy it because you do all your Christmas shopping together, obviously. Except, of course, if you’re single.
If you’re single, it’s officially that time of year again. The Instagrams of cute couples increase tenfold (yes, we see you in front of that Christmas tree, GET A NEW POSE). The Christmas cards start rolling in – showing off families on vacation or newlyweds at the alter. And you are forced to attend oh-so-many holiday gatherings filed with oh-so-many couples.
Okay, sarcasm aside, being single during the holidays isn’t the worst thing in the world. I really hate how we keep believing these lies about how we have to hate singleness during certain times of the year. Valentines Day? Oh, you poor thing. Wedding season?! God help you. THE HOLIDAYS?!?? Your life is over. I have lost track of the cheesy Christmas movies (which I love, no shame) that involve a plot line of the desperate single at Christmas, the lonely, unfulfilled person flying solo at New Years, the depressing, never ending walk in the snow some people have to make alone. Please, continue to tell me how a relationship will solve all my problems, Hallmark channel.
Before I get lost in a full blown rant (which, I’m known to do every now and then), let me be clear: being single during the holidays can be awkward. Being single any time of the year can be awkward, but especially during the holidays when questions about your life and future and possible grandkids come up. There are some really kind, well intentioned people out there who miss the mark when it comes to comforting singles. Here are some things we all – single or married! – should stop saying:
There’s this really fun moment when – in the middle of conversations about couples and relationships – people turn to me and ask, “Soo, are you seeing anyone?” Or when I’m catching up with out of town friends and the first question is, “Any new boys??” After my simple “no”, people don’t know what to do with themselves, there’s a moment of silence, and then I get the “ohhh…. sorry“.
I’m always confused why me telling people I’m single gets the same response as sharing a cancer diagnosis. I realize some people don’t enjoy being single, and I realize the world has made it out to be comparable to a horrible disease, but continually telling people you’re so very sorry about this horrible thing in their life is: 1. assuming they’re currently unhappy 2. rude (see #1) and 3. reinforcing the unhealthy viewpoint that a relationship is the be-all, end-all. Some people actually don’t hate every second of their singleness. I know, it’s a mind blowing concept to comprehend. But maybe we should know a little more about a situation before we assume our sympathetic, your-life-is-horrible stance.
If you personally know someone is struggling in their singleness, tell them you’re sorry! Be there for them! If you personally know someone just went through a breakup and they are unwillingly, newly single, tell them you’re sorry! Comfort them! If you simply hear someone is currently single, don’t tell them you’re sorry! Sorry for what? Are you also going to apologize that I’m 24? That I’m a recent college grad? Are you sorry that I’m a woman? Do you feel bad about other facts about my current position in life? …or just my singleness?
“Stop Looking for Mr. Right, Focus on Becoming Mrs. Right!”
Here’s the thing people: this phrase has such good intentions. We shouldn’t be obsessed with finding our future spouse. We shouldn’t be consumed with looking for someone to date. We shouldn’t be completely preoccupied with the idea of a relationship. Instead, we should be focussing on making ourselves better people. Yes.
But this idea falls short when it, incorrectly, encourages the idea of a Mr. Right existing. (It perpetrates the belief of The One, your missing puzzle piece, the perfectly shaped – by God! – peg for that little hole in your heart. We can argue the existence of soul mates later if you’d like, because I do not believe in them whatsoever.) It then goes on to encourage the belief that you should be becoming a better person for the sake of one day winning over your soul mate. Are you kidding me? Maybe I could, like, want to work on my flaws to be a better friend. Maybe I could desire to become more like Christ out of my love for Him? Maybe I could even strive to better myself… because I care that much about myself. But, no, let me focus on becoming my best self for my future husband. Because my world and existence is going to revolve around him anyway, right? Might as well start now – all my actions should be a direct effort in one day being the best spouse possible!
I know this might seem a bit harsh on a very well intentioned statement. Once again, I love the heart behind this idea. But I think we need to realize a lot of the phrases – especially in the church – we are using have harmful, underlying messages.
“…That’s Why You’re Single…”
Okay, people, hear me loud and clear: unless you truly know someone on a deep and personal level, and have been invited into commenting on their romantic life, NEVER, EVER SAY THIS. Even as a joke. Even if they’ve said it in front of you. Don’t. Do. It.
I hear this a lot, in jest, after “you’re so stubborn!” or “gosh, you’re opinionated” or “wow, you’re kind of intimidating”. If I was a cartoon, steam would start coming out of my ears. Instead, I just give them a tight lipped smile and change the subject. Even when the comment is made to someone else! Why such strong feelings?
- Unless you are close friends (as stated about) you have no right making a comment on the status of someone’s romantic life, especially blaming a certain part of their personality for that status. It’s never a good quality being pointed out – “You’re so wonderful! That’s why you’re single…” – so how does that saying go? If you don’t have anything nice to say… make a comment about someone’s singleness? Plus, unless you are a close friend, you probably have no idea why that person is single. And it’s not your place to start brainstorming.
- Unless you are close friends, you don’t know how that person will take it. Maybe they are really, truly struggling being single at this point in life – and you just made a joke out of it. Maybe their quirk that you just made fun of was actually a pet peeve of their ex’s, or that bad quality was a reason behind their recent break up. Maybe they are even trying so hard to work on that aspect of their life, and you just poured salt in the wound.
- The phrasing of this alone makes singleness seem like a punishment. Relationships get likened to winning a lottery, singleness gets likened to a prison sentence. “I got 5 – 10 for my stubbornness.” “I’m hoping to get out soon on good behavior, I’ve really been working on my communication skills!” “I’m on death row over here…. #foreveralone.” I’m so sick of it.
- The phrasing of this also makes it seem like you somehow have to be perfect to land yourself a relationship – which we all know isn’t true. I know plenty of stubborn, rude, immature, you-name-it people who – surprise, surprise – aren’t single at the moment. So whatever bad quality you’re blaming for a person’s singleness, it’s not factual. Remember this magical idea of “they’ll love you for you“? Why don’t we apply that to singles?
There are friends in my life who know my past – they know every awkward date I’ve been on and every bad break up I’ve had. They know my flaws and my strengths and my baggage, so they are the ones who are allowed to come to me and say things like, “Well, maybe your independence is standing in the way of a potential relationship” or “I think you’re letting your past determine too much of your future right now” or even “Krysti, get over yourself and forgive him”. They can even joke around about some things – because they know where my line is and not to cross it. But strangers? Acquaintances? Don’t try to explain to me why I’m single.
This blog could probably go on forever, as there are sooooo many comments I think we need to stop making to singles / about singleness. So maybe there is a part 2 in the near future. In the mean time, let’s start thinking before we speak – just in general! – but especially when we are dealing with the delicate issue of singleness.