I’ll be honest: waiting for the love of your life to show up (which really means online dating, or going through the process of getting to know someone who seems promising) gets frustrating, and it can be lonely too. The length of the wait is emphasized as people five, ten, or more years younger than you get married and have children, when people seem to effortlessly meet someone and transition to marriage and children, or when people marry, divorce, and remarry as you wait (not that going through a divorce is a picnic!).
Being the only single person in a group of friends sometimes feels like you’re the elephant in the room, especially when your friends know that you want to get married (does anyone remember the dinner party scene from the movie Bridget Jones’ Diary?). Your friends may be hesitant to ask about that aspect of your life because they don’t want to upset you, while you may wonder why they don’t care enough to ask. If a married friend tells you that you’re single because you’re being “too picky” or “too demanding” when you feel you are not, you can get defensive and want to end the conversation because you feel misunderstood. And let’s face it, times have changed: people who met and married at a young age don’t know much about dating today, with social media, dating apps, and dating websites, things that should make meeting someone easier, but somehow don’t.
Most of the time I’m at peace with the process. I trust God and I know that there are things I can do to help the process along (focus on looking my best and being my best (mentally, emotionally, and spiritually), focus on accomplishing all the things that I have full control over, socialize often), but sometimes I wonder if married friends think about:
- whether their single friends are lonely
- who they could set their single friends up with
- how they could support their single friends (by encouraging them to talk about how they feel, listening, or being a shoulder to cry on, even if the conversation and emotions make them feel uncomfortable
- praying for their single friends
There are many good reasons why someone may not have considered these questions: they may be newlyweds, busy adjusting to a new life; they may be focused on school, their career, or other priorities; some may be in their own season of waiting (for a child) and may be asking the same questions above, wondering if their friends ever think about the challenges they’re facing trying to become parents. Those with children have plenty of responsibilities and priorities in their lives, and often feel that they have little time for themselves, talk less for a single friend, especially in those moments when the perks of being single (such as having the option of sleeping in and only being responsible for oneself) are so tempting.
It’s important for single folks to support their friends as they move to new milestones: participate fully in bridal showers, weddings, baby showers, and kids’ birthday parties (well, to a point: I’m still trying to figure out how many kids’ birthday parties I want to attend). However, if you’re single, don’t let society’s elevation of the family unit make you treat your life or accomplishments as less important or less noteworthy because you’re single. Don’t do what I’ve done and minimize the happenings in your life because it doesn’t involve a relationship or a baby: when your friend asks you “What’s new?”, trust that they really want to know and give them an update on your job or the blog awards you’re devoted to (ahem), and don’t get caught up wondering if it’s trivial in comparison to the guest list for a bachelorette party or potty training challenges.
If you want your non-single friends to discuss being single with you, bring it up with them: share your frustrations about the dating scene, ask for their advice, ask for their prayers, ask them to hook you up! And like I mentioned, it’s important to support them by listening to their challenges too: marriages and parenting aren’t always smooth sailing, and even though you may not have practical experience as a wife or mother, you can still be supportive.
I have been blessed with friends who are willing to talk about my search for love, who have witnessed me cry or rant about the process, and who encourage me to keep on hoping and expecting. If you don’t have friends like that, it’s important to find a support system, and it may not be among your friends: there’s nothing wrong with finding a group for women or men who are in the same stage of life as you and connecting with them with a goal of encouraging each other along. That was the primary reason I joined a church “connect group” and although we don’t spend much time discussing the single life, it’s nice to be around people who are in the same boat.
If you’re married, have you ever done any matchmaking of single friends? How did it turn out?