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.
My “Things We Need to Stop Saying to Singles” was a hit with some folks, but I hate to be one to complain about problems without offering a solution. I get that at some points, as a married / engaged / off the market person, it can be hard to interact with someone who is single because it can be a very touchy subject for some. You don’t know how to address it… you don’t want to avoid it… it’s difficult! If you’re going to read anything, please read this: People who happen to be single are people – they have thoughts and opinions and dreams. You can’t imagine how many fail to remember that, and only see us for our relationship status. So for all those well intentioned people out there who really, truly don’t know what to say to singles this holiday season (or in general), here are some ideas:
After you’ve gone around the circle and heard all about marriages, engagements, ect and land on the token single friend in the group, who responds that she’s “still single”. Awkward silence.
If you’re relatively close friends, you can kindly ask “And how do you feel about that?” Give them freedom to love it, hate it, cry about it, or brush it off as unimportant. Deciding for them that “Ohhh, that sucks! So sorry to hear”, doesn’t allow them to celebrate singleness if they choose to do so. Alternatively, deciding for them that, “Oh, the days of freedom! You must have so much fun!!” doesn’t allow them to grieve singleness if they choose to do so. Trust me, they’ve had their feelings about singleness pre-decided for them a lot, so offering them a safe place to explain how they feel goes a long way.
If you aren’t super close with them (and don’t feel like they would open up about their true feelings), you can simply say, “Oh, okay. Any other life updates?” / “Any exciting plans for 2016?” / “What was your highlight of 2015?” This not only changes the subject away from relationships casually, but also doesn’t make a big deal out of their singleness. You really don’t need to comment on the fact that they aren’t seeing someone – acknowledging that they answered your question and moving on in the conversation is great. It’s how conversations typically work, actually. Bonus points: this tactic also suggests that you can have an exciting life and/or happy existence without a spouse. MIND BLOWING.
When you’re catching up with your old group from high school, and everyone has given long, extensive updates on their partners (they’re now working here, we’re now at this stage in our relationship, this bothers me about them but I love this, our future looks like _____) and your single friend has… no partner to discuss at length. Ahhhhhh.
“Have you picked up any new hobbies?” / “How do you spend your free time these days?”
“Whatever happened to [insert long ago dream]? Are you still thinking about pursuing that?”
“Any exciting plans for the new year??” (this is a reoccurring theme for a reason, friends. Great transition tool for this time of year!)
Sidenote: Unless you’re really close with them, and really, truly need an update on their ex, stay away from “Whatever happened to that one person…?” or “I had no idea you two split! When did that happen?!” Don’t be silly. Don’t go there.
When your single friend complains about going to some kind of holiday event that is basically couples only.
“Huh, that does sound hard. How can I help you with that?” Sometimes, people just want to vent. They want to be heard, they want their uncomfortableness to be acknowledged. Other times, they actually need someone to agree to hang with them for the night, to keep an eye on them throughout the evening, to speak up on their behalf. Don’t assume you know what they need, ask.
“Well, you can drive with us! We’re planning on leaving around ____” Half of the awkwardness of being single with so many events to attend this time of year is arriving alone. Seriously. Then there’s the awkwardness of carpooling with couple friends who either leave way too early or stay wayyyyy too long. Couples: offer the gift of carpooling. It’s wonderful – even for the environment. Also offer the gift of clear expectations of said carpool.
“It will be fun to catch up with so-and-so, we haven’t see them in forever!” Remind them that it isn’t just a party of couples being couples, but there are actually people there that you want to see. Sometimes it feels like it’s a never ending night of third wheeling – talking to couple after couple after couple. But couples are made of 2 people, and sometimes they actually break apart and talk to people one on one.
Sidenote: DO NOT go with the ever comforting (not) “Well maybe they’ll be some cute singles there” / “I heard so-and-so is back on the market” / “You can meet someone new!” Just don’t. Not helpful.
Miscellaneous, great things you can say to singles at anytime this season:
“So, tell me about the best part of your day / week / year!” Singles are real people and have real things going on in our lives besides our relationship status. We even like to talk about them. Really.
“Any exciting plans for 2016??” Seriously, guys. This is CONVERSATION GOLD. You’re welcome.
Normal conversation topics. I’m serious. Even though we aren’t married, we have opinions on politics, movies that just came out, and – if you’re really desperate – the weather.
“Here, have some more wine.” Am I saying this because singles are lonely, poor, miserable souls who have to turn to alcohol for their needs?? No. I just think most people in life could use more wine.