I have generally refrained from posting stuff like this because I am single, and I think that sometimes it sounds whiny when people post about something that directly relates to their own situation. I don't want to sound whiny because I am actually quite pleased with my singlehood currently. Not to say that I want to be single forever, but my point is that I am happy to be me.
But you see, sometimes I think people forget about other people who aren't in their own situation. People forget to put themselves in others' moccasins. So, really, the purpose of this post is to perhaps help people who want to be kind to everyone, even those that aren't in the same situation that they are in. If that isn't you and you don't actually care what these single people think, then I guess this list just isn't for you.
I hang out with a fair share of single people, so I compiled a list of things that you shouldn't say to them. Some of these come from actual experiences where it has been awkward or maybe has caused the person to feel embarrassed, belittled, or sad. It's not like these things will always cause people to feel badly, but they have a higher likelihood of doing so unless you tread very carefully.
1. "Why aren't you married?" I don't think this one always makes people feel badly, but I don't really think it's a necessary question. It's a hard one to answer, really, as there are probably a long list of reasons why a person is not married. Most people just haven't found the right person and situation for marriage, so it's not a very necessary question, anyway. The question also implies that there is something wrong or off about the person for not being married, and that's not a correct attitude to have about anyone. So, you should generally avoid this question.
2. "My grandson who lives in Palau is also single." Part I One time a really old dude told me that he had a grandson who was single. This grandson was substantially younger than me, and by his grandfather's account was a deadbeat, but somehow this was relevant to me. He said something like that I could bring the money into the relationship, since I am older and have a good job. Also, this young fellow didn't even live in my same state. This entire conversation was mind-boggling. Why would this old dude think I was in a state of needing to be matched with his deadbeat grandson? In what way is this complimentary to me? Answer: it wasn't. Trying to set people up purely because they are both single is not in any way complimentary to either party. It once again implies that there is something wrong with not being married and that people should do anything to get married. Not a correct principle AT ALL. If you don't have any idea that the person you are talking to would remotely like to be set up with another person, then by all means hold your tongue or ask appropriate questions such as "Do you like to be set up on blind dates?" to feel out the waters first.
3. "My grandson who lives in Palau is also single." Part II Sometimes when I first meet people and they find out I'm single, people just start telling me stories about someone else they know who is single. I think they bring it up because they're trying to relate to me or something. Well, guess what? It's weird to tell random stories about the other single person you know. And what? Do you really only know one other single person? Seriously? I think the current stats are that just under half of the U.S. adult population is unmarried. Surely you know other single people. If not, please, get out a little more and meet more people. Step out of your bubble.
4. "Are you gay?" I have racked my brain trying to come up with an appropriate time to ever ask someone this question, and I haven't come up with a single time when it's appropriate. It's certainly not appropriate in front of a large gathering of people or family dinners or the like. Even if you have a really good relationship with someone, I think it's better to let that person tell you when they're ready to tell you and not ask them straight up. My sister banana came up with one way in which it could possibly be an appropriate question to ask, and that would be if you are gay and you are wondering if someone is a potential for your dating pool. But still, it's not a smooth way to go about it in my opinion; although, I guess I don't really know.
5. "I wasn't a real person until I had kids." I read a blog post one time where the person said something to this effect, and I was like... what!? I felt really badly for this blogger because I felt like they were saying that they weren't an individual who had worth, you know? Individual worth? I'm sure that's not exactly what they meant, and they are certainly entitled to their own experiences, feelings, and opinions, but wow. Not a real person, eh? I've noticed that this kind of mentality is somewhat common in family-oriented social spheres (and sometimes people associate this with religion, even though I think it's more cultural than doctrinal). I get that having a family is good and positive (and depending on your religion, it is a commandment), but I think that this sort of mentality is damaging to society as a whole in that it asserts that a person who does not have a family is of lesser importance than those who do. That is a false idea. Each individual has an enormous worth and value. I can only imagine how a couple who is unable to have children would feel about someone who said that statement to them. And it probably doesn't help those women I know who vehemently hate Mother's Day because they are angry that they have never had children. I just don't feel like that statement builds good will, even if it is how the person feels.
6. "You should do _______ differently." Telling someone how they should change to become a more desirable mate isn't usually very helpful. If the person is struggling with self-esteem issues, then you have just made it worse. Also, when you think about it, you're not really telling the person how to become more datable, you are actually telling that person why YOU think they aren't datable. You are directly rejecting them for who they are, and that isn't very kind at all. Always remember that people are different. Something that you value highly may be of little worth to someone else and vice versa. When it comes down to it, what you think about them doesn't matter, unless you are interested in them, in which case you still shouldn't tell them how to change.
7. "This is what I did to get married. You should do that, too." I can't count how many times I've heard stories like this and have just ended up feeling badly for the person and their courtship/marriage. Again, we are all different. Unsolicited advice or telling people how to live their lives isn't very respectful of them. It is jumping to conclusions about their feelings, their desires, and even that they want to talk to you about their dating life at all.
8. "Why did you get a divorce?" This question is another one that you should just let people tell you when they are good and ready to do so. It's such a personal and frequently emotionally-charged topic that it's just more respectful to let them bring it up.
9. "What is wrong with you?" I would think that this question is self-explanatory, but I have heard people ask that question to others before. The fact that someone else has a different relationship status than you does not mean that they are broken or that something is wrong with them. And truly, nobody is perfect, so asking the person this question is really just super negative, as the likelihood of them knowing their own imperfections is high. There is no need to remind them of those imperfections.
Now, if the single person engages you in this type of conversation and actually asks your advice or opinion, feel free to give it to them as they ask. These are are just things that you shouldn't blurt out just because someone is single. The whole point is to be kind and respectful to people. No matter what someone's relationship status is, they are still people who probably have a bunch of things in common with you. Obsession over someone's relationship status doesn't really seem to be helpful at all. Just remember to put yourself in the other person's shoes and to remember that no matter who they are, they should be treated with kindness.
Discuss. And if you can think of others that I've missed, feel free to add them in the comments.