One of the most annoying things that you deal with as single person is all of the things that people say to you about your singleness. I’m talking about all of the platitudes, quick answers, and questions that people say to you.
I was single until I was nearly 41 and believe me, I’ve heard them all. They come from all directions. People who care, people who don’t. People who feel sorry for you, people who are frustrated with/at you. From behind the pulpit to in the small group to heck, behind the counter.
- I’m sure God has someone for you.
- God is preparing someone for you – just be patient
- Be grateful for your time as a single – once you get married it all changes.
- Are you praying for your spouse?
- Have you tried online?
- It’s when you aren’t looking that you find someone
- Just seek to be content in your singleness and God will provide
- It will happen at the right time
- Just focus on serving God right now.
- God must have someone really special for you
- Better to be single than married to the wrong person
- Don’t settle
- Are you too picky?
- Are you dating anyone?
I could go on and on and on and on and on. It can be funny, awkward, frustrating, or even infuriating. The question is how do we respond well to this stuff. I mean do you blow it off? Do you give a great sarcastic answer? “Are you praying for it?”- “Wow! I’ve never thought about praying for it. I’ll be sure to do that.” Haha.
I think how we respond matters because it affects us and sometimes others.
There are some key things to keep in mind. What is the intent? What is your relationship to this person? What is the goal of your response?
Most of the time people are just making conversation. It’s a question, in our culture that we lead with. It’s just a way of talking about something. The weather, the local sports team, your marital status. It’s all the same. There is zero reason to let it bother you. This last weekend I celebrated my one year anniversary. You know what everyone asks me? “So hows married life?” “Hows your wife?” “First year of marriage huh – bet that was fun.” “So has the honeymoon worn off?” Depending on how I answer that, they’ll have a nice thing to say about it. It’s no different as a parent. “How’s the kid?” “How is school going?”
Most of the people at church, in our neighborhood and even many of our family and friends will fit this category. I think this is where you smile and take it. And then ask about their kids. . . or the NBA finals.
There are others who ask out of some sort of sense of arrogance or wanting to fix you. This is more troublesome and might be worth challenging. One time when I was on the golf course with a business associate who was about my age. He was a Christian and married with kids. He began to tell me how I should lead my dating life. Basically he was pulling rank and telling me how to “stay pure”. When the conversation moved to “I tell my 14 year old son. . . ” I stopped him. I said, “Do you really want to have this conversation? Because I’ll have it with you. Do you really want to be in this with me? I’ll let you in, but if you want to go there, it’s about to get real right now.” That oddly enough kind of stopped the conversation.
Finally there are those who really do care about us. I’m talking about our close friends and family who actually walk with us. This is where, if we are bothered by what they ask us or the “wisdom” they dispense or if we are just tired of being identified as the single person in the group, we need to speak up honestly. If we can’t challenge what these people say to us in a loving way, then we are in trouble, and not just in this part of the conversation.
But we need to realize some things from our end. Do we really want to move beyond it? Do we really want their actual opinion and help? And finally, have we set the stage that way ourselves?
If for example every time someone says what can I pray for, we say, “a spouse” we don’t have a lot of room to be frustrated with them bringing it up. If I’m focussed there, it’s pretty natural for the people around me to want to help. Do we really want honest answers? For example would we be willing to ask “why do you think I’m still single – for real?” “Do you think I’m doing anything wrong?” “How am I around the opposite sex?” Are we willing to hear the answers? Here’s what I’m saying. WIth our close friends, how do we help them help us.
I’d love to hear from my readers on this one. A couple of questions.
What are some of the things people say to you that drive you the most crazy? How do you respond?