“Got any plans tonight?” coworkers asked on Friday (which, in case you were not aware, was Valentine’s Day), with raised eyebrows. I shyly responded no, that I would be heading up to the mountains with my parents, and had to face their looks of apparent disappointment.
“Single shaming” is a real phenomenon for those of us who are not in relationship. For those unfamiliar with the term, “single shaming” refers when those in relationships are condescending to those who are single, for no apparent reason other than them being single.
Personally, I have been single for, well, most of my life. I’ve had one longer relationship that lasted about two years, have gone on some dates and had some intrigue in the meantime, but for the most part, I have been single.
If you are single, keep reading for thoughts and reflections on what it has meant for me to be single, and what I have learned; if you are in a relationship, keep reading to learn how to NOT single shame your single friends and how to best support them.
“Single shaming” can come in many different forms. Here are the single shaming methods that you should avoid when talking to your single friends:
- Avoid only making plans with other couples. Obviously, if you are in a relationship, it is really fun to double date with your other friends in relationships, but do not make that your only form of socialization. Your single friends still love you and want to see you too!
- Don’t tell your single friends you are “living vicariously through them”. There are a good amount of single people who love being single, but there are a good amount who also wish they were in a relationship. Value your single friends for more than their dating stories and failed relationships.
- Only set up your friends if they ask you to. Constantly telling your friends that you are going to set them up can be demeaning to singles- unless they specifically ask. Don’t force your friends into dating your partner’s friends unless they are equally as excited about it as you are.
For all my single readers, here are some pointers to keep in mind:
- Don’t date just to date. Being single isn’t easy, and can often be lonely. However, don’t just fill that loneliness with going on countless dates. Take the time you are single to reflect on what you are really looking for in a partner, and when you find someone who you think might have those qualities, then take the plunge into dating again. Never settle for anything less than you deserve!
- Focus on your future goals. Like I said in a previous post, actively working on your future goals will help you not only set a path for yourself, but will also help you hone in on what you are looking for in a partner. Your future partner should be someone who aligns with those goals and helps you reach them.
- Relax! Just because your friends are in relationships doesn’t mean you have to be. Everyone has their own timeline for finding love- don’t feel pressured by those around you to adhere to any timeline but your own.
Being single shouldn’t be seen as a curse; it should be seen as an opportunity for growth. As cheesy as it sounds, take this time of being single as time to explore yourself and formulate who you are. After all, you’ll never know what kind of partner you want unless you have a good understanding of who you are.
While I encourage singles to explore what it means to single and take this time for themselves, don’t use this as an excuse not to date, especially if you meet someone really great. Take the time you need to be single, but don’t be afraid to get out there and challenge yourself in the dating world, when you are ready.