Feb 15, 2016

In Every Season: 10 Things NOT to Say To Christian Single Gals

Christian single women often get bombarded with unsolicited advice about their singleness. It sometimes is the first and only thing married friends will ask questions or offer advice about. Many times the "advice" can be hurtful, demeaning, and disrespectful -- even if unintentionally so. Single women can leave these conversations feeling even more alone and rejected because they are not in a relationship. It can feel like their non-single friends, family, and other acquaintances are advising if they only changed this or that, then POOF! Mr. Right would appear to whisk them away to wedded bliss.

It is important for Christian women who are no longer single to be aware of  how their encouragement or advice can come across, because sometimes even good advice can come off in a rude or hurtful way.

One single gal explained why it is sometimes difficult to get advice, even well-meaning advice, from women who are no longer single:
 “I've been sifting through this idea a lot lately. It's prideful and petty of me, but I have a hard time listening to married gals talk about being single. Especially recently married gals. It feels like they've crossed the finish line and are looking back with pity, which is not the case I know, but I am much more willing to take the advice of women still wrestling with it.”
It is not impossible for single and non-single women to be in community together and even talk about the subject of singleness. But it requires humility from everyone involved, compassion, and remembering what also annoyed you when you were single. 

Here are some things NOT to say to singles, collected from my survey taken by thirty-two Christian single gals a few months ago:

1. "You are too picky"
"People often assume that the reason you are in your mid 20's and not married is because you are being picky. They tell you this without fully knowing and jump to a conclusion. 
2. "You need to lose weight (or change something else about yourself)"
  "Yes, looks do matter, but what is more important than looks is character. I am a big advocate for healthy living and exercise, but what's more important than looks is character. Don't just assume that because I am 10 pounds over weight that's the reason I am not married.”
3. "Your standards are too high" or "you need to lower your standards"
"(I've been told) that my standard are too high and that I should give so-and-so a shot because they're single, even though I know I'd be settling for less than what God has placed in my heart. It bothered me because once you get to a certain age, people almost want to rush you to a decision and rush you into a relationship. There is no rush with God! Sarah was way beyond her years of childbearing when God fulfilled his promise to her regarding a son. We downplay the sovereignty of God when we rush and take things into our own hands.”

4. "You need to pray more about getting married"

"It wasn't a particular conversation or comment, but rather a string of comments with each interaction we had. It seemed like every time I talked with my aunt, all she could ask me about or remark was about how God was going to bless me and she believed I will get married too someday and asking me to pray more about this matter. It was so consistently brought up that I began to feel like there was something wrong with me as if I had nothing going for me because I wasn't married. I felt pitied by her.” 

5. "It'll happen when you least expect it! Just stop thinking about it"
“It frustrates me when those women say things like "You'll meet him when you stop looking" or "It will happen when you least expect it" or "Just trust God's timing!" It feels like there's this pressure to be so chill and cool and carefree about the fact that I'm single, like I have to try to never be expecting it or longing for it. I agree that I need to trust God, but telling me it will happen when I least expect it or once I stop looking isn't helpful at all.”

"It will come when you least expect it!" makes me feel like they really don't get my frustrations." 

6. "You need to show more skin to get a guy's attention!" 
 "I have gotten the "Well, if you try harder, show a little more skin, allow them to even kiss you..." All of these bothered me because it implies that there is something wrong with me.  Nowadays (some) guys expect you to put-out to be more risqué,  to be more available to them. But they dont commit to you, they are not loyal to you... It makes me frustrated that we (who choose to live as clean of a lifestyle as possible) are looked at and talked about as the weird and that we "are single for a reason" that shouldnt be the case”
7. "I know EXACTLY how you feel!"
 I think the reason some of the advice is hurtful is because when you are going through this season you feel lonely and you feel that someone who is dating or married can't relate to you.”
8. "You must have so much free time!"
 “Cliche things that annoy me like how much time I have to do other things since I don't have a family… I'm just as busy as a married person, I just choose to fill it with other type of community that I have to create.”
9. "You'll understand one day when you're married"

 The worst line I ever heard was "You're not married, you wouldn't understand". It made me feel misunderstood. It also makes me feel alienated and like I'm less of a woman because I'm not in a relationship.”

 "This bothers me because I get the feeling that they are above my situation and seem to put themselves in an all-knowing position." 
10. "Just be patient! Your time will come!"

“Cliche things like marriage will come if I'm patient enough . . . It bothers me because it doesn't necessarily lesson the desire I have for marriage. 
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Instead of using these ten common cliché statements with the single gals in your life that may trigger guilt, loneliness, and doubt, please pray with and for them, encourage and support them.

Talk about topics other than the fact they're single because there is more to life than marital status.

Keep mental notes of what their hobbies are, achievements at school or work you can congratulate
them on, and ask about what they're learning or how they're being stretched.

Don't assume they want to talk about the fact they're single and avoid giving unsolicited advice.

Check your heart for any pride behind your intentions or advice and ask your single friends for
forgiveness if you realize you've said hurtful things intentionally.

And stay tuned for a post on what these lovely ladies shared are ways women who are no longer single can love and serve single gals! They mentioned some great things and I am super excited to share soon!

Lastly, I want to thank anyone reading this post who took the aforementioned survey. Your raw honesty and vulnerability brought me to tears on several occasions and I am so incredibly humbled and in awe of the wisdom you all possess. I have been encouraged so deeply by your responses.  Seriously, I have been so blessed reading through responses and putting together these posts. Thank you!!

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For further reading: 
Previous posts in the "In Every Season" series
What Not To Say To Singles via RELEVANT Magazine
And for a little laugh, 24 Things Single People Are Tired Of Hearing via BuzzFeed

12 comments:

  1. Great post! thanks for sharing! God bless you

    www.elizabethangelia.blogspot.com

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  2. Wow! What a great post! I know these feelings too well, but now I find myself sometimes giving my two cents to my single friends. Good to think about!

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    1. Thank you, Shailynn! Yes, I have thought a lot about this while gathering the survey info and writing the post because I know I have given unsolicited advice too!

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  3. i relate with every. single. one. of these quotes.
    it's always a soothing balm when we are reminded we aren't alone within our struggles.

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    1. Thank you, Amy! Yes, I remember hearing some of these too and they make me cringe. And yes! It IS soothing balm to know we are not alone! That is such truth, no matter what season we are in!

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  4. YAS this is such a good series!

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  5. Such a great post! I have felt this way with some of my newly married friends and I have been in a relationship for almost 4 years. It is especially terrible when they look at you and say "you're not married yet so you wouldn't understand."

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    1. Yes, very true! I don't think they always mean to be condescending but it can definitely come off that way!

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  6. Brilliant.. such a good post.. Thank you!

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  7. Thank you for sharing this list. I think it's always dangerous to assume that you "Know" exactly what someone is going through...(Number 7). It shuts down empathy and dialogue in a friendship.

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I love to hear your thoughts!

Elle Alice