Supporting Your Single Friends
“I’ve gone on dates, but no one special to report,” I said to my friend, Jason, in response to his question about my dating life.
“Hang in there,” he said. “You’re an absolute peach.”
“No, offense, but I don’t need an “I’m a great catch” pep talk.”
“Alrighty then. Wasn’t trying to pep. Just throwing a compliment your way.”
“When you’re single, that’s not a compliment you want to hear.”
Why do non-singles rush to assuage singles’ feelings when we discuss dating? Nowhere in the above conversation did I complain or lament my state of singleness or (bad) dates. I made no self-deprecating remarks or whined, “What’s wrong with me?” Why, then, did he feel compelled to “throw me a compliment?”
“You’ll meet someone when you least expect it”; “You’re awesome and will meet someone equally awesome”; “You’re a great catch!”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard one of these compliments from non-singles I wouldn’t have to marry a man for his money.
Singles complain about these kinds of sentiments because they are unnecessary and give the impression something’s wrong with the single person.
Anne, a 27-year old living in Atlanta, says, “Friends tell me I’m so pretty and then want to know why I don’t get asked out more. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until they said that.”
If you want to support your single friends, start by listening to their stories. Don’t offer an auto response. Listen. If, and only if, your friend says something is wrong with her should you take steps to make her feel better. But, be smart about it. Again, listen to the issue. If you agree that your friend is preventing herself from meeting a great match and she asks for advice, offer suggestions specific to her problem(s). If you don’t have advice or suggestions, that’s okay, too. Wait for the question before spouting off your opinion of what’s best for your friend. She may only need a sounding board. You know how you hate it when your significant other wants to fix a problem instead of listening to you? Same situation. Listen first.
Your heart is in the right place – you want your friend to be happy – but don’t forget how you felt when you were single and barraged with unsolicited pep talks and compliments.