Why I Sometimes Want to Avoid Married People

Based on my Facebook news feed, it is engagement and wedding season (with a few pregnancies and babies thrown in for good measure).  I am extremely happy for my friends who are being blessed in these ways, but I won’t lie and say it’s easy to see yet another beautiful ring, yet another set of starry-eyed engagement photos, yet another photo album of centerpieces and flowers and beautiful dresses.

I am only 25.  This is the 21st century; I am not a spinster.  I have a dog that I love in a house that I love in a city that I love.  I have a wonderful job that more than covers all my expenses.  I am beyond blessed, but that doesn’t mean I do not still long for romance, for a relationship, for a partner to share my life with.

Now, inevitably, when I say things like this (or, alternatively, joke sarcastically about beginning to collect cats), people chime in with all kinds of encouraging statements.  The problem, however, is that most of these statements are not actually encouraging.  So I figured I would be really upfront and let you know which statements do more harm than good, and why.

I have seen a number of other blogs do similar, very well-written posts, and I could just link to them, but hey, it’s my blog and I feel like this a topic worth putting my own spin on. So without further ado, here are some things well-meaning married people should probably stop saying to us single ladies (I can’t speak for single men, so I won’t try to).

1. If you really want to be married, God will bring you someone.  God would not give you a desire He doesn’t intend to fulfill.

My first response to this one is “Ummm, have you read your Bible?”  I’m pretty sure Hosea desired to have his wife stop cheating on him.  The Israelites who were kept in captivity in Egypt for 40o years probably desired freedom.  David desired to build a temple for God.  All throughout Scripture people desired things and those desires were not fulfilled because God had a different plan.  Yes, Psalm 37 says that He will give us the desires of our heart, but it’s talking about Him. He is the true desire of our hearts; nowhere in scripture does He promise me a husband.

2. Just be patient and trust God; He will bring you the perfect guy when you’re not looking.

The underlying message here is that something is broken in my relationship with God, and therefore I am being punished with singleness.  As soon as I “get right with God,” I will be rewarded with a husband.

This is a horribly damaging message.  The idea that my singleness is caused by something lacking in my spiritual life is the same as the disciples believing a man’s blindness was caused by sin (John 9).  Yes, there are things in my spiritual life that need my attention; yes, I need to trust God and be patient, but those things are not the cause of my singleness.  I need to trust God because it will get me more of Him, not because it will get me a husband.

3. You don’t need a man to complete you or be happy.  You have a great life!/ Marriage is really difficult; enjoy being single now.

Yes, I know.  I do have a great life.  I am a complete person whether I am in a relationship or single.  The surface messages are true; the underlying message implies that there is something wrong with longing.  Longing for a relationship, for a husband, for a family, is not the same thing as brokenness.  It does not mean I am discontent or taking my current stage of life for granted.  It just means that I have a desire for more.  If this desire leads me to the throne of God, there is nothing wrong or broken about it.

The same thing applies to all those stories you have about someone you know who didn’t get married until she was 35 or 45 or 55.  Those are great stories and I’m very happy for those women, but it implies that I don’t have the right to long for a husband because I’m only 25 and that’s still really young.  Once I’m older, then the longing will be acceptable, but right now I need to just suck it up.

Also, don’t lie.  Marriage is awesome.  Please don’t use my longing as an excuse to tell me how much better it is being single.  I know marriage is hard, but I don’t believe you for a second when you say life was better when you were single.

4. I just don’t understand why _____ isn’t married yet.  She’s so great.

This one may just be me and my issues, but when you ask me about why one of my friends (who is totally awesome) isn’t married yet, all I hear is, “Well, it makes sense why Rachel is still single, but I totally don’t get it with _______.”  Again, this is probably my own issues coming out to play, but it still implies that singleness is a sign that something is wrong in my life.

So what should I say, then?

What should you do when we tell you again how it is difficult being single and we wish we could be married?  How can you encourage us?  Be honest!  Tell us that you are sorry that we are hurting.  Tell us that you will pray that we will be comforted in times of loneliness.  Integrate us into your families until we have one of our own, and even after.  Continue to share the joys of married life with us, so that we can rejoice with you.  Do not give us the cliche, bible study answers you think you should give; just give us yourselves.

And finally, single ladies: be gracious.  Our friends mean well and are trying to encourage us; they do not mean us harm.  When we start to hear those underlying messages, let us speak truth into the lies.  We are loved by God.  Our singleness is not caused by sin.  We do not have to clean ourselves up before we can be worthy of the blessing of marriage.  Longing for something does not mean we are broken.  Let us rejoice with our friends who have been blessed with families and enjoy the season we are in.  Let us acknowledge the feelings of loneliness and longing, but not let them consume our lives.

Remember: regardless of whether or not we get married here on earth, we are the bride of Christ and have been invited to the wedding feast.  And that will be the best wedding ever.

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41 Comments

  1. Joel Altsman

     /  May 30, 2012

    Well written and well thought out. Thank you for sharing your heart!

    Reply
  2. Hi….We would like to use this post at http://www.peacefulsinglegirl.wordpress.com. If interested, contact my husband at hopalong9119@hotmail.com and he will give you the specifics on guest blogging. Thanks……

    Reply
    • rachelheather

       /  May 30, 2012

      Wow, thanks! I’ll definitely shoot him an email.

      Reply
  3. Excellent points! I admire you for confronting your well-intentioned yet misinformed friends. Thank you for this terrific blarticle!

    Reply
    • rachelheather

       /  May 30, 2012

      Thank you for the kind thoughts! And for sharing on Facebook :)

      Reply
  4. Debbie

     /  May 30, 2012

    Thanks Rach! I have to admit I might be guilty of some or all of the above and didn’t even know it. GREAT post! Thanks for your insight and wisdom…..you go girl!!!

    Reply
    • rachelheather

       /  May 30, 2012

      Glad I could be helpful! I think we’ve all been guilty of saying things we think are encouraging instead of really listening to what the other person is saying. I guess it’s all part of learning how to be part of a community.

      Reply
  5. ashley

     /  May 30, 2012

    Ok, I want to start off by first saying I do not know you, and I am glad I don’t. It offends me that you feel that your married friends or your friends that are in relationships even owe you anything. They are being nice by giving you encouraging words. They could easily tell you to just get over it and quit your bitching. And I am sure that even if they do give you advice that wasn’t one of your list of 4, that you wouldn’t actually take their advice anyways. Because I am sure at least one of your friends has offered you kind words as a way to change your “luck” at finding a guy. But it’s apparent by your post that you haven’t or wouldn’t take their suggestions seriously or you wouldn’t be writing this pity party.

    I am going to say this coming from someone who is in a relationship and who was once YES at one time, too, was a single lady. Guess what honey, we have all been in your shoes. Sorry that you haven’t found somebody yet. Maybe if you put half as much time writing a blog about what people owe you since you are single, into finding a mate then you would have better luck. I am sorry if that’s harsh but no guy is ever going to want to have a whiny woman. And if you believe so please go to any male that you know and ask him. They will tell you no. Why would they want somebody who is going to whine and want a pity party every time she doesn’t get her way? I am glad to hear your life is so “GRAND” because according to the rest of your post nothing matters except finding a relationship. Maybe if you were genuinely truly happy with where you are in your life then you would be ready to meet somebody

    Reply
    • rachelheather

       /  May 30, 2012

      Ashley,

      I’m very sorry that you were offended by my post and found it whiny. It was not my intention to throw myself a pity party, or condemn my very loving and encouraging friends. My goal was merely to draw attention to things that are very frequently said to me and to other single friends that we have found hurtful at some point.

      I’m also sorry that my attitude came across to you as me feeling like I am “owed” something because I am still single. That was not the feeling I meant to convey, so maybe I need to choose my words more carefully in the future.

      I do not doubt that the people who have said these things love me and care about me; I just know that I have hurt people with my words when I meant to be encouraging and I always appreciate being told so that I don’t repeat the same mistake. I think by being honest about our emotions and open with how others words affect us, we can make the world a kinder and more understanding place.

      Finally, while this particular post focuses on relationships, if you read my other posts I think you would see that I am very happy with where I am in life. My blog is my outlet for the things on my mind; today was relationships, tomorrow might be Buffy the Vampire Slayer or something weird that my dog did. I’d love for you to come back another day and hear what else you think.

      Reply
      • E

         /  June 2, 2012

        The balance needs to be foound: on one hand, people with issues do have sensitivities towards all kind of words and actions – and can be so subjective, even out of line in their translation of others well intended actions. so it;s nice to develop a harder skin so you won’t get easily offended (that’s when you lower your ego). On the other hand, people don’t know how to comfort – comfort comes from God’s truth and hope given by Him, not by human explanations and suppositions about the situation. at the same time, truth is hard to handle…and the majority of people prefer to hang on to an illusory hope/expectation than to handle the truth of “we don’t know what God is going to do about this”.

        Reply
    • Kristin

       /  May 31, 2012

      Wow, Ashley, that was incredible harsh. Rachel was simply pointing out how our culture (that often tends to treat singles as second class citizens) can be more sensitive to her needs. Not to mention, putting time into finding a mate makes you look desperate and needy. The girl was just communicating her thoughts on her blog. If you don’t like it just close the window. No need to chew her out.

      Reply
  6. Mary Lee

     /  May 31, 2012

    Thanks for posting! I especially like #1. :) I was married at 24, but I think your points are well made. It IS hard when all of your friends are getting married whether you are 24 or 44 (or having babies & you’re not).

    Reply
    • rachelheather

       /  May 31, 2012

      Thanks, Mary Lee! #1 always gets me too, because it just seems like such a silly statement, but I tend to live like I believe it so much of the time.

      Reply
  7. Anonymous

     /  May 31, 2012

    Rachel,
    This is the first one of your blogs I’ve read, so it’s ironic it’s about singleness. I am right there with you. I appreciate your candidness and strong Biblical references. I look forward to reading your future blogs! Also, keep up the good work with those kiddos!
    Hannah (Teresa Neal’s daughter)

    Reply
    • rachelheather

       /  May 31, 2012

      Thanks Hannah! I’ve been meaning to read about all your adventures in Australia but I keep forgetting. I think I’ll go do that now… :)

      Reply
      • Anonymous

         /  June 6, 2012

        Thanks Rachel. It’s fun reading about each other’s lives. Hang loose and keep the faith, as my Paps always says!

        Reply
  8. Anonymous

     /  May 31, 2012

    Hey Rachel, I didn’t know you have a blog!! Tots following you now. :) Single life is rough… I’ve always thought you were one of the most romantic people I know, I hope to see you blogging about your own wedding in the near future! Love and miss you!

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

     /  May 31, 2012

    (It’s K-Mav btw… haha)

    Reply
    • rachelheather

       /  May 31, 2012

      K-Mav!

      You didn’t know I had a blog, but I had no idea you were married and having a baby until those pictures popped up on Facebook! Congratulations, by the way; your girl is adorable!

      Reply
      • Anonymous

         /  June 1, 2012

        Hahaha, touché! Thanks, girl!! I’m with you on the avoiding part… the only thing worse than an unfulfilled desire is having to watch other people enjoy what you’re longing for! A year ago I was DELETING my fb friends with annoying engagement/wedding/sonogram pictures and updates, and I wouldn’t have believed you if you’d have told me I’d be joining their ranks so soon… Life happens so fast, and God has a twisted sense of humor sometimes!

        Reply
  10. nice post. but if you think its hard being single at 25…. wait a few years, it gets more difficult – lol. I’ve heard many of the same things you mention. I always say being single is not for the weak or thin skinned, b/c people really do say stupid stuff. I have no doubt you will one day find love, BUT there is no guarantee it will arrive in a timely fashion – unfortunately. Until then – enjoy the ride!

    Reply
    • rachelheather

       /  May 31, 2012

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! And you enjoy the ride as well!

      Reply
  11. Ellen

     /  May 31, 2012

    love you friend – keep up the amazing writing – I’m expecting to see you published one day. :)

    Reply
    • rachelheather

       /  May 31, 2012

      Thanks, Ellen! I somehow lost access to your blog. If you still update it, will you send me an invite pretty please?

      Reply
  12. Miriam

     /  May 31, 2012

    Rachel,

    I can’t say that I have the privilege of knowing you, but as a Christian woman who happened to see you blog post, I can’t help but wonder, are you really being honest with yourself? The meanings that you derived from the statements of you friends seem to largely stem from personal insecurities. There appears to be an underlying personal issue that needs to be addressed in order for you to come to a true realization of what you think God has planned for you in your quest for a relationship and what you are actually doing in order to make that dream a reality. I am a firm believer that God helps those who help themselves, a point that you conveniently left out of your list of spiritually infused criticism of your well-intended married friends. With that being said, is there anything that you are actively doing to meet a mate? If so, perhaps chronicling your dating tactics/experiences could actually help pinpoint some personal strengths and weaknesses within the area dating and relationships that could be more closely attended to, thus ensuring better success in finding a mate. Rarely do people actually meet just walking their dogs or at a coffee shop, but when people put themselves into socially conducive situations, the possibility of meeting a mate is more apt to actually happen. From the looks of your previous blog posts, it appears that you spend an exorbitant amount of time viewing TV rather than engaging in social activities with other people. Yet if that is actually where your interests truly lie, then I must admit, it is quite foolish for you to complain about being single. The sad truth is, no one will ever sweep you off of your feet while you are cemented in front of a television watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    There is nothing wrong with wanting a husband or mate, but knowing the reason for why you would be a valuable asset to a marriage through personal attributes is equally if not more important that the actual yearning. I take it that your possess an unawareness that it takes work to find love and even more work to sustain it, therefore, I am curious to know if you have ever actually been in a relationship with anyone? Although I am not your friend, nor am I married, I pray that God will guide you to your future mate with clarity, but the initiative to embark on that quest is something only YOU must take responsibility for as an able bodied human being.

    Reply
    • rachelheather

       /  May 31, 2012

      Miriam,

      Thank you for your obviously well thought out comments. I love dialogue, especially when it is respectful and constructive!

      I agree with you that some of the hurt I have felt comes from my own personal insecurities; however, I don’t think that necessarily negates the underlying messages that are being sent to singles. These are not messages that only I hear; they are things I have talked about with many different women, single and married alike. I think both sides of the divide need to gracious with each other, which is what I was trying to convey at the end of the post.

      I do understand your point of “God helps those who help themselves” (although I’m not sure it’s an entirely biblical idea, but that’s a discussion for another post). I know that I can’t just sit around and wait to be hit by lightning. I serve on the greeter team at my church, I am involved in a small group, and I have friends that I hang out with on a regular basis. I’ve also used a number of different online dating sites, just to see what else was out there.

      The fact remains that the underlying assumption in our culture is that if someone is single, they are doing something wrong. Either they are too desperate or too timid, too closed-off or too risque. I know many single women who are doing everything “right” (I am not one of them, but I know them); to say that their singleness is their own fault is, in my opinion, insulting and just plain wrong.

      Reply
  13. Being single sucks sometimes. So does being married. I think being alive is hard. Good words – Ignore those that are all harsh on you for being honest. Being active in finding a mate is good and needed, just like having sex is good and needed for having a baby. But no one (should) tells an infertile woman ‘I don’t know why you aren’t pregnant yet’ or ‘God will give ypu a baby when He thinks you’re ready’ or ‘God will give you the perefect baby when you’re not trying for one’ or ‘You don’t need a baby to be happy.’

    Those would be really insensitive things to say to a woman, but we say them to single women about marriage. Boo on us!

    Reply
  14. I’ll also add (I’ve been thinking about this since I read this blogpost): there is a time and a place to advise a single woman on why she is single. That time and place? When she’s asked you to and you can do so with good motives.

    We shouldn’t give unsolicited career advice or fertility advice or marriage advice because we only see one piece of the puzzle AND because it isn’t our place. But there is a place for a single woman to sincerely ask her friends “Why do you think I’m still single?” But I’d ask only really good friends that – friends that know you and your life well. Maybe even just married friends who have been there, done that. I wouldn’t ask “Barely Know You Betty” why I’m still single. I wouldn’t ask “Randomly Read Your Blog Rachel” why I’m still single. I wouldn’t ask “Hates Men Hattie” why I’m single. And for Betty, Rachel and Hattie to voluntarily tell me why I’m single? Well, that’s just downright unhelpful and probably mean.

    I totally get it. I’m married now, but didn’t marry until I was almost 31, so I’ve been there, done that and I remember those single frustrations well.

    Reply
    • rachelheather

       /  May 31, 2012

      Thank you, Jayme. While I would never presume to understand the pain of infertility, I do think you bring up an interesting parallel. We don’t assume a woman has done something to cause her infertility, so why do we automatically assume a woman has done something to cause her singleness?

      And yes, giving unsolicited advice can be very dangerous. I’m sure I’ve done it in the past, and I’m sure it was extremely unhelpful.

      Reply
  15. Excellent post and filled with honesty. People say things because they don’t know what to say. Sometimes it is better to simply listen then make statement that could hurt someone else.

    Reply
    • rachelheather

       /  June 1, 2012

      Thank you! If I get nothing else right, I do hope that my blog is honest.

      Reply
  16. Grace

     /  June 1, 2012

    Really interesting point of view. Thanks for sharing! In my life the first step for me was to take responsibility for my dating life. I read ‘How to Get a Date Worth Keeping’ by Henry Cloud and it changed my point of view on dating. I needed to open up my heart and give out that “Hello, I’m available” vibe. I also developed some dating rules for myself. One of my rules was to go out on a date with ANYONE who asked me. I would go out on three dates with them and then decide if I wanted to keep hanging out. I also decided that I would pay for myself because dating can become expensive and it made me feel like I wasn’t committing much to the guy. I wouldn’t have given my husband much of a chance if I hadn’t opened up my heart and been willing to give anyone a chance….just read the book. : )

    Reply
  17. ended up here after clicking on your SheReadsTruth link. I got married at 35 so I can TOTALLY relate to everything you are saying here. Love your writing style and am looking forward to following along. I love me some good dialogue! :)

    Reply
  18. mary

     /  September 25, 2012

    Wow…..you gave me alot of insight…great blog btw

    Reply
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  • A collection of ramblings and musings on Jesus, life, education, family, and anything else that pops into my head.

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