Top Reasons “While You’re Still Single” Lists Are Bad

So I recently read an article about “enjoying your singleness”.  It was basically a list of all the things you should do while you’re “still” single.  Many articles have been written about this.  “7 Things To Do While You’re Still Single.”  “10 Great Things About Being Single”  “6 Things To Do Until You Meet The One”  “10 Ways Take Advantage Of Your Singleness”  “What To Do In Your Season Of Singleness”.  “Blah, Blah Blah.”

There is so much wrong with this mentality and we have to, HAVE TO, change it.

Where to begin?  Staying in the spirit – here is a list.

1. These lists assume that your singleness is temporary.  Usually very temporary.  The idea is that you will for sure get married soon – so soak up all singleness has to offer now. Don’t worry, it will happen, but don’t miss all the great stuff you can have as a single.  Yeah, I’d say about age 28-29 I was pretty ready to miss all that stuff.

2. Often times these list come off pretty self centered.  Basically the message is go out there and be about you because once your married it’s not all about you.  Here’s the deal, it’s not all about you now.  It never was and never will be.  This is not “your time”.  It’s God’s – every time.

3. If it’s so great and there are all of these great ways to live single (and if marriage is so hard) then why in the world get married?  And we wonder why people are waiting forever.

4. The funny part is that a lot of these list are made up of things that for the most part are not really about taking advantage of singleness.  They are about engaging life.

Some things commonly on the list –

  • Travel – see the world – yes this is much more fun alone than with a spouse.  Um no
  • Save money – long run this is not even remotely true – and to top it off, 50% of single people live alone – so they aren’t even saving on that.
  • Do more ministry – yes because all the people who do ministry are single – oh wait. .
  • Hang out with friends – yes because we all know that once you get married you are required to drop your friends.  I mean all my friends that got married dropped me – oh wait, no they didn’t.  Yikes.
  • Spend more time with God – this is just terrible.  Yes there is a calling to celibacy that some have in which they have a different sort of vow with God.  But this is not true for the “not yet married” or the singleness that these authors are talking about.  In fact I would say that wanting a spouse can be more distracting than having one.  Let me promise you this – I have not prayed less since becoming married.  If we are honest, no matter what our context we need to be in constant relation with God.  If being married means being further from God then God would not have instituted it before sin.

Look – all of these things are good.  But they aren’t good to do because you are single. They are good to do period.  You should engage God, others, your friends, your job, and for sure if you’re married your wife, your kids.  I get it, it looks different married than single. But you know what it looks different in all sorts of different seasons.  There are always transitions and movements.  Situations evolve and change – jobs, moves, kids, deaths. Not just single vs. married.

5. On another note, none of these list deal with why you are single (A better list might be – “10 Things To Help You Get Un-single”).  They don’t deal with what you might be doing wrong, what might be holding you back, what fears you might need to face, what wounds you might need to seek healing for, what sin you might need to repent of, or even if you should consider if you might be called to celibacy.

It assumes that you don’t need to do anything.  Just kick back and enjoy this “season” until God brings you The One.  The whole this is where God has you right now mantra.  Look, it may be where He has you.  It may also be a combination of 100 other things.

Here is my encouragement to you friends.  Single folks – don’t do any of the things on the list because you’re single.  Do them because they are right and good.  Don’t do them thinking this will help you when you get married.  Don’t save money so that you’ll have more for marriage – save money because it’s smart – married or single.  Don’t engage friends thinking you won’t get to later – engage them because it’s healthy to do so.

Whatever you do, don’t delay marriage just to do these things thinking that you’ll miss out on something you could do single.  That will always be true.  There will always be sacrifice. But you know what, staying single means missing out on stuff too.  There could just as easily be a list “10 things you’ll miss if you get married after 30”.

It’s time to drop the handy dandy platitude lists attempting to soothe our hurt and justify our context.  Dive into life from wherever you’re at.  Jesus said He came to bring life to the full. Engage it – single or married.




10 thoughts on “Top Reasons “While You’re Still Single” Lists Are Bad

  1. So glad to hear someone call out these lists. I keep giving into reading them and often end up feeling miserable because they often assume that your life as a single is pretty awesome with lots of opportunities. Recently I read on that was talking about enjoying living with friends and getting to travel. Nice in theory, but at the time I was feeling really unsettled after putting up with obnoxious, anti-social behavior from a housemate and feeling sad that I couldn’t even afford to go visit a close friend who’d moved to another state, let alone go overseas.

  2. Careful Justin….you’ll be branded as being “negative” and have the scripture “ask, seek, knock” thrown at you and “I can do / have all things through Him” added in for good measure. Good scriptures but taken way out of context.

    These lists are a good salve, and sure, a good way to put some things in perspective…..but they still make it out as if you “can’t” do any of these things if you are married, or serious with someone (on a marriage track)

    Because as a guy: You’ll be doing everything to make her happy, and you can’t have time for anything else. You have to be “guarding her heart” and you need to have or get a better job to provide the American dream.

    Because as a gal: You are going to be a mother soon, since you have “the one” and you can’t make time for anything else. Children are the most important thing in your life now (even planning for them) and anything else is a distraction.

    Most singles’ advice has lists like you mentioned, steps or things you have to do while you are single……..and IF you get married without doing these things…somehow, someway you will still be less of a husband or wife because you didn’t “live it up” and / or “have it all”

    • Good points!

      I think American Christians would be more than challenged just to accept the simple truth that God is not actually an American, and He doesn’t ascribe to live by “The American Way.”

      This alone shows how much politics and social philosophies have corrupted the simple purity of authentic Christian life – to believe that God is just like one of us, rather than see our own need to become like Him.

      Why must the quality of a man’s “Christian” moral character be measured first and primarily by his ability to provide women the worldly comforts and security of “The American Dream?”

      Where is that in the bible?

      It certainly isn’t here:
      Matthew 16:24-26 AMP
      [24] Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests and take up his cross and follow Me cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also. [25] For whoever is bent on saving his temporal life his comfort and security here shall lose it eternal life; and whoever loses his life his comfort and security here for My sake shall find it life everlasting. [26] For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life his blessed life in the kingdom of God? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his blessed life in the kingdom of God?

      As things stand now, most men are forced to choose between a “happy” wife or a single, Christian life. God bless any man who can juggle both! I guess Paul wasn’t joking about married men having worldly concerns about pleasing their own wives. SMH!

  3. Ironic that you wrote this post Justin because I just ran into this issue with a friend yesterday!
    A christian lady who is single and in her early 40’s and I were discussing jobs, careers, and moving as well as the priorities of those things. Anyway she emails me a link to the job explosion in North Dakota due to the oil boom/job growth there. As well as indicating I should not just quit my job, but quit my career field to go work on the oil fields. All to “rake in the dough!” and then I can quit a few years later. (The backstory here is that I live where there are no bible teaching churches where I live and thus no opportunities to pursue a Christian lady for marriage, which is known to my friends.)

    Anyway I responded kindly with a thank you for the thought but I’m more interested in finding a job in a new state/town to settle in, attend church, and start a family rather than go out “rake in the dough” as if it’s something I can only do prior to marriage and family. Fyi, If I was in my early to mid 20s and not invested in a career field already, it’d be a different story. I even shared with this friend that in fact I’d be happy making “ok” income and placing the priority in having a family and let the Lord meet my needs.

    I get a prompt response back of “you’re not gonna have that family if you can’t support it” followed up in the same email with “Take this advice from a friend whose a Christian, a woman, and single.”

    This lady is indeed a Christian, I know her testimony. But I was still surprised to get that response! I wasn’t sure how to take the response other than she believes that if a guy isn’t making the big bucks, he won’t (or can’t) have the ability to support a family. While I believe it’s a biblical requirement for men to support their wives and children financially, when has it become a requirement to be above the median income level to be considered quality husband/father material??

    The irony is Tom commented about this just a few days ago on material things being on that list of “to-do’s” when single. The reality is, any list of accomplishments imposed on or by a single person as a requirement to define their singleness (or marriage) is pure materialism. This is not biblical and devalues marriage from the Godly institution it is used to sanctify two believers, down to nothing more than a personal goal or accomplishment amongst many others in an individuals life.

    This is just another bit of evidence that even in Christian circles, the institution of marriage is becoming more devalued by the day.

  4. Hmmm. I basically agree with the post. Especially your first point, which is that the writers of these lists tend to assume that their readers will all, in fact, get married. There’s no way anyone can know that.

    What I disagree with, though, is the suggestion that travel is just as easy when married as when not. Perhaps travelling with a spouse might be similar to solo travel, but travelling with children in tow is not. If I ever do get married, I expect that my travelling days will be over for the foreseeable future (if, of course, I get married while still able to have children.) If I get married while still young, babies are likely to make an appearance sooner rather than later, and then I’ll have to kiss my travelling goodbye.

    • Or maybe your traveling will prevent or delay someone back home from proposing!?

      How will you know if you assume someone you don’t know who lives far away will be better than the good men in your life now? Or that you need to meet thousands of men to find “the best one” among them?

      What makes you “worthy” of that ideal man anyway?

      What do you have to offer him if you aren’t preparing yourself for marriage?

      The weird thing about proposals is that they are best done in person. Doing so is more difficult for men when women spend their youth globe-trotting somewhere else in the world from home in some copycat, Julia Roberts – strong/independent woman – EPL style – “find yourself” adventure with all their ridiculous selfie photos of coffee and chocolate in Paris!

      Who cares about Paris?! It’s just another dot on the map with as many problems as your hometown.

      Do you want to be a REAL WIFE or just a woman with “exciting life experiences,” because how you spend your time and money when you are young demonstrate what those real priorities are.

      Maybe your priorities for life choices are wrong if you insist marriage is really important to you, yet still just a “goal” you don’t even work towards? Maybe less travel and more fixing yourself would help you achieve the goal you say you want? Just a thought!

      It’s not like Paris is going anywhere! It will still be there whenever you do become married, and it might even seem more “romantic” with a new husband to share it with!

      • Wow. Okay, I did not actually say any of the things you’ve accused me of saying. And I don’t really understand how, based on my comment, you could possibly have come to the conclusions about my character that you have come to. Please don’t assume anything about me.

    • Hey Julia

      I get what you’re saying. I just think it’s much more nuanced than that. Travel has a lot of variables. Money is a big one. I know plenty of married people who have traveled much more than me, because they can afford it. Age has a lot to do with it as well. If you are young and single or young and newly married, then travel is easier. How into your job you are and how much time off you have.

      If by travel we mean the ability to go this weekend across the state then yeah it’s easier without a family. Only one person’s decision. But if we mean travel as in see the world, I think there are just too many factors to call it one way or another. But it is the one on the list that is arguable to be sure.

  5. Loved reading this. An being single is fun for so long…. but growing old with a best friend is a blessing 🙂

  6. Oh thank you–I get so tired of the way singleness is presented as some sort of carefree “live it up with no responsibility” thing, as though most singles are rolling in dough and time and that’s why they haven’t settled down yet (yeah, lotta singles I know would travel all the time if they had the extra money but there’s this thing called bills to pay that kinda gets in the way). You are totally right, we should do these things because they are good, not because they’re place holds for when true adulthood really starts (aka marriage). There is a smidgen of truth IN THAT, I don’t have to really consult someone living with me over when I can go visit a friend in another state, or what to do with the kids while I’m gone. Or whether I can easily jump into a church ministry if no one is watching the kids. But seriously, some of the most traveled, church-ministry driven people I know are married with kids. Like even with special needs kids, where they have to find specific people just to take care of that kid so they can leave, they can’t just hand them off to anyone. Yet they still manage to do it. Because God consistently opens up those opportunities for them and provides people. Or adoptive parents, who are still bonding with their new child, yet running numerous ministries at once. It’s not easy, no, but they don’t let being married keep them from serving, just like we shouldn’t let being single make us feel obligated to serve. It’s a privilege for both sides to use our time for God’s glory and His work. And yes, it’s a little easier for a single to say “I’m setting aside this specific time to pray and seek God today” than maybe someone with little ones in tow, but that doesn’t negate the need for the one with little ones to set aside that time. Like you said, most married people pray more than they did when they were single because suddenly they realize even more just how much they need The Lord. Jim Elliot nailed it when he said “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you perceive to be the will of God.” Pursue God, love others, travel, serve in the church, manage your money, because it’s good to do so, not because you’ll have to stop once you say I do.

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