Relationships: What’s not cool to ask a single person
Why are you single?
Four words that resonate like the sound of someone scratching their nails down a chalkboard, or the most obnoxiously loud person’s voice in a quiet room. Seems like a reasonable question, with no critical implication, but to a single person on their quest to find love and companionship, this can be a fully loaded statement.
Sometimes it’s a completely innocent thought asked with nothing but flattering intent. It can certainly be that someone is in awe of you and perplexed as to how a human as special as yourself walks this earth alone and unspoken for, but make no mistake, these four words can also pack a lot of punch and a fair amount of judgment.
Famed dating coach Matthew Hussey once made a video about a man and woman on a first date. All was going well until the guy looked at the girl with a bewildered stare and asked the notorious question, “Why are you single?” The girl was at a loss for words. She wasn’t sure whether he was complimenting her or scanning her brain and body to figure out what exactly was wrong with her (it’s especially annoying when someone who’s also single questions why you’re single).
Let me break this down for anyone who finds the concept of being a single adult hard to understand.
Single people are not weirdos who can’t get a date, nor are they constantly screwing up. It’s not necessarily a case of being “too picky” either. Even the pickiest people are likely to let some of their boxes go unchecked when they fall in love.
People may need to work on themselves, resolve some of their own issues to meet the right person and succeed with a relationship, start making smarter choices to avoid wasting time with the wrong people or enhance and refine their dating skills. But the truth is, single or not, we can all use some work. No one is perfect and we should never stop bettering ourselves. We make mistakes, we learn and we grow. People evolve at their own pace and want different things.
We are not all made for marriage or monogamy. Some are not in a rush to get married and have kids; they’re more focused on other pursuits or careers and establishing their lives. Here’s an even crazier notion: maybe people are single because they simply haven’t found the right person to spend the rest of their life.
Whether divorced and starting over again, or never married, most people are single because they haven’t met their match. A lot has to line up when seeking the right partner. Let me add, dating after 30 is drastically different than dating in your early twenties. People have full lives and don’t need their existence validated. They are looking for someone to add to their happiness, and are OK with being alone until that happens. The more you date, the more you learn about what you want and don’t want, what works for you and what doesn’t. The necessity to be with someone lessens.
Longing for love and the appreciation for companionship escalates, but requirements work their way into the picture, unlike the younger years when things just seamlessly progressed without a thought. I say amen to that, as long as their expectations are realistic.
If you’re a concerned parent, family member or longtime non-single friend of someone single, please remember that dating now isn’t what it used to be. It’s not so easy to find a great person you connect with mentally, who you’re also attracted to physically and are compatible with even with all the options out there. And then you have to factor in the right timing. Finding someone who is relationship minded, serious about settling down and emotionally healthy and who isn’t carrying too much baggage isn’t a piece of cake as you get older, either. So the next time you question how your loved one hasn’t met someone yet, understand that it’s probably not because they aren’t trying or don’t want to. Asking why they’re still single won’t help anyone. And if you’re on a date and feel the need to ask that question, ask yourself first.
To all the beautiful single people in search of love, I know there are ups and downs. As happy as you are, you do want companionship, but you’re on a mission to find someone really special, just as special as you. Sometimes you doubt that exists and get discouraged.
In those very moments I want you to remember that being single is not a bad thing, nor is it a shameful thing. Just keep at your journey. Do your part. Be open, be smart, be proactive and enjoy your life. Being single is a positive thing. It’s an opportunity, not a disease.
Just think how much you have to look forward to if you haven’t found great love yet.
Julia Bekker, aka the Hunting Maven, is a Connecticut native and professional coach and matchmaker at huntingmaven.com