Dating

I'm single and I'm fine, thanks

By Siobhan

If you’re single have you faced incredulity, disbelief, a bit of confusion, or just plain denial that you could actually be single (gasp) by choice? Or, Goddess forbid, be enjoying your single life? In our experience, women seem to deal with this more than men (who, let’s face it, are often high-fived as player-heroes for staying as unattached as possible while casually dating as many women as they can). There’s an unspoken expectation that all females want to be in relationships, fueled by rhetoric that loneliness and solitude are unhealthy and isolating, and reinforced by a society that pushes the “women want to trap a man and settle down” line. 

It's a completely different scene if the single person in your life is a close friend, and you happen to know for a fact that they’re keen to be in the dating game. There’s a respectful way to have that conversation, prefacing it with “Tell me if I’m sticking my nose in where it’s not wanted” and ending with “I just want you to be happy, whatever that looks like to you, and I’m here for you.”

But we’re talking about friends of friends who meet someone for the first time – or run into them again after a brief meeting – discover they’re single, and then immediately question why, followed by trying to “help” them by suggesting singles to set them up with. In this instance, it doesn’t actually matter if you’re straight, queer, or questioning; some people’s need to fix other people up seems to transcend the realm of gender or sexuality. (Although what’s evident is that it’s more socially acceptable for guys to be single than it is for girls.)

So back to the original question: Is it ever appropriate to question why someone is single, then immediately try to fix them up with a date?

You know what? No, it's not appropriate.

While we admit that most people absolutely do have the best of intentions – or they’re happily partnered and can’t imagine that anyone else could possibly be happy on their own, or just casually hooking up – asking why someone is single can come across as condescending and just plain rude. Even if it’s blurted out in the context of “Why are you single? You’re so smart, funny, gorgeous, and fun to be with! I don’t get it!” the subtext that the other person can hear might sound something like this: “There’s clearly something major wrong with you!” Read: Judged, patronized, othered.

The thing is, it’s not inherently rude to ask someone if they’re single. It’s the “Why?” part that can come across in absolutely the wrong way. Imagine if someone told you they were in a relationship, and you immediately questioned why that was? (Actually, maybe we should start doing that; the answers could be as interesting as seeing the disbelief on people’s faces…)

Put yourself on either side of this awkward conversation:

My dudes, where did you get “lonely” from that little exchange? Take it a step further and imagine someone responding like this:

“Why would you want to be single? It's much nicer to have someone!” or “Don't you want to marry someone so they can look after you?”

Um, what? We were talking about the upcoming long weekend and now my life choices are under attack?

Comments like these are often generational, with older people having a more rigid mentality when it comes to being in a relationship – because remember, our grandmothers still couldn’t even have bank accounts in their own names until they were well into adulthood. Singledom wasn’t the easiest option in a society that didn’t let women have credit cards without their husband’s signatures until the 1970s. Imagine having to leave your job when you got married, or being labeled a spinster if you weren’t coupled up by your mid-20s… Yeah, it was a different time, and old habits die hard. But this societal stigma needs to be addressed and then swiftly, and permanently, broken.

Next time you’re chatting to a single mate, really consider what they have to say. If they tell you they’re looking for love or a bit of fun, it’s okay to mention your other (quality) single friends and ask if they want an intro, or nudge them in the direction of HUD App for some no-strings-attached dating. Be respectful of their no, if it comes. If they’re vibing the single lifestyle, refrain from judgement and respond with a genuinely kind, “Good for you!”

And if you’re on the receiving end of some well-meant but ultimately unwanted advice about how you need a partner, you’ve got options:

Or just smile and say,

I’m fine, thanks. Let’s get another round of drinks."

And change the subject.

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