What to say (or not) to a Single Person

isolated-stop-sign-2 At times, those who are not in the single state will offer their own thoughts on why you’re still single and how to exit that state.  Although people may sincerely think they’re offering you words of wisdom with the idea of actually helping, some of the suggestions can actually do more harm than good.  Here are some of the most unhelpful and/or ridiculous comments aimed at single people that I personally have experienced:

  1. You’re old
  2. You’re fat
  3. Wear more make-up
  4. Change your make-up
  5. Change your wardrobe
  6. Go to Victoria Secret and buy a better bra
  7. You’re trying too hard
  8. You’re not trying hard enough
  9. You need to go hang out in a bar

While most of the items in that list are somewhat subjective- beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all- and a couple of the items are just down right silly, I can’t let item number two go by without a response.  For the record, I’m five feet, three and a half inches tall, and weigh 107 pounds.  Now that we’ve cleared that up. . .

Occasionally, by the grace of God and guidance of the Holy Spirit, someone has made a useful, uplifting remark.

1. When you say “no” to sex before marriage, it narrows the dating pool so much that your odds of marrying narrow with it.  This comment from a married friend had honestly not occurred to me, and yet, she put her finger on a very important truth. When your values are in conflict with most of the people in the dating world, the dating world then becomes closed off to you, not because you’re doing anything wrong, but because you’re adhering to your faith.

2. You’re doing everything you’re supposed to do.  This observation came from a friend who had married in her late 30’s, not because she hadn’t done everything she was supposed to do, but because she too adhered to the teachings of the Catholic faith and waited for God’s timing.  She knew exactly what she was talking about from her own experience and was in a position to comment on the situation.

3. I don’t know. . . I don’t get it.  After hearing so many blaming reasons as to why I was yet unmarried, this answer from a married friend’s husband was truly appreciated.  My friend wanted a “guy’s” perspective as to why I was still not married, so she asked her husband straight out what he thought the reasons might be.  Her husband, who has known me for many years,  honestly couldn’t imagine any reason why I wouldn’t be married.  His answer was honest, unassuming, and more helpful than I can describe.

4. Hang in there. I’m rooting for you.  A married co-worker came to my rescue with this two sentence show of support.  The co-worker saw how down I was on the subject of singleness.  Instead of blame and unjust criticism, she simply let me know that she was on my side in my struggle to reach my vocation.

Honestly, it’s this last response that a lot of singles would really appreciate from Church leadership.  If people honestly can’t think of anything else to do or say on the subject of being unmarried in the Catholic Church, they can at least send a little hope and encouragement our way.  How hard would that be, and why would the Church not want to encourage its members to continue to pursue their vocations?

In the meantime, if readers would like to share any helpful or unhelpful statements they’ve ever received on this topic, please leave a comment below.  Maybe we can all learn something about how to respond better to each other as a faith community.  Wouldn’t that be great during this Year of Mercy?