5 Things Single Women Are Tired of Hearing
I just finished reading a book called “Never Have I Ever: My life (So Far) Without a Date” by Katie Heaney. While I’m glad to say my existence hasn't been quite as unfortunate as this author’s (sorry, Katie) I can definitely relate to being unlucky in love and having to deal with inquisitive and condescending remarks from people who think they are trying to “help”.
As in many cultures, marriage is a very important milestone in Islam. For Muslims, getting married is said to complete half of one's religious obligations. It’s a similar sentiment as “finding your other half” to complete you. So the idea that I’m in my late 20s and still without a ring on my finger is unfathomable to many. Like most women in my situation, I can’t go to a wedding or family function without some aunty pinching my cheek and asking when I’m next.
The worst part of it all is the attitude that I’m single because I want to be, when that’s not nearly the case. I would love to be in a meaningful relationship and enjoy all of the great things that come along with it. But in today’s fast-paced society, meeting new people is a challenge -- and meeting the right person is even more difficult. So it certainly doesn’t help to hear the constant clucking from every disapproving voice reminding me that I'm a failure in love.
Here are the things I hear all the time that I would love for people to stop saying to me and other single ladies:
1. “So, when are you getting married?”
Let me just pull out my crystal ball and tell you!
This is a stupid question to ask anyone who isn’t even in a relationship. It implies that I’ve made a choice to be single, and that once I decide to get married, it will magically happen.
2. “Don’t be so picky. You’re not getting any younger…”
Really? I thought I had Benjamin Button disease!
This pressure on women to pick a spouse because her biological clock is ticking is exasperating. Sure, I want to have children -- but that doesn’t mean I should go out and marry the first man who is willing. I have seen too many unhappy relationships and failed marriages to make that mistake.
3. “You’re obviously not trying hard enough.”
Trust me, I’ve tried it all: matchmaking events, online dating, getting set up by friends, going on blind dates. I’ve done everything short of commissioning a billboard over the Gardiner Expressway. Maybe I should give that a go.
4. “Don’t try so hard… it’ll happen when you least expect it!” This is especially annoying when it comes directly after 1, 2 and 3. You’ve just finished telling me how vital it is that I do anything possible to find a mate. Now you‘re telling me to stop worrying about it. I wasn’t until you brought up this conversation.
5. “Do you want a career or do you want to be married?” This one is really upsetting to me because it implies that I can only have one. It’s not that I’m single because I’m focused on my career. I’m focused on my career because I’m single. I can’t spend my life fixated on someone that doesn’t exist yet – so I’d rather put my energy into something that does. Sure, my priorities might change when I’m in a relationship, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Things you can say:
1. “You’re a great catch.”
Women are constantly being told what they should fix or change in order to attract a partner. How about telling her how much she has to offer and how lucky someone would be to have her in their life?
2. “Would you like me to introduce you to my friend?”
Be very careful with this one. Not everyone likes to be set up. But for those who are ready and willing to meet new people, why not offer her some options? Once you’ve done the introduction, let the parties take it from there, and don’t get too involved.
3. “It’s tough out there.”
Acknowledge how hard it is to find the right person, even when you’re making an effort. Relationships are a two-way street, so recognize that there is that other variable of the other person. Lots of people are ready and willing to date –- but less of them are ready to put the effort into a long-term commitment.
Say nothing at all. This is probably your best option. Mind your own business and stop commenting on other people’s love lives (or lack thereof).
Trust me, us single women put enough pressure on ourselves. Most want to be in a meaningful relationship. But it doesn’t help to constantly be told that there is something wrong with us just because we haven’t found the right person to share our lives with.
Let single women be. We’ll figure it out in our own time.