Conversations with friends or interested strangers often lead to the topic of “relationship status.” Sometimes, like when hanging out at a bar or another social setting, that topic is even an opener. People tend to make assumptions based on first impressions or cultural expectations. We all do it, but how we voice those thoughts differs from person to person. Some questions and comments get “old.” I have a few conversational “bones to pick” in hopes of dissuading people from interjecting certain cliché questions or presumptuous statements that, depending on a girl’s attitude, can come across as offensive, a little irksome, or plain tiring. From the perspective of a single, 24-year old woman, I’ve listed ten things I wish people would avoid asserting or asking. They don’t make me mad or sad; they’re simply “a thing.” Don’t fret if you’re guilty of asking these questions or slipping these comments into conversation. They’re not deal breakers. I’d just prefer less presumptive statements and deeper questions than these. Hey, maybe this will help you better steer your way through first dates…
- “Why are you still single?”
This question is positioned like there’s something wrong with a person who is single. It’s so silly. To put it simply, I have no husband, fiancé, or boyfriend, but you already knew that… So what are you really trying to ask? “What makes you undesirable?” “You must be pretty self-centered to still be single, no?” “So what’s wrong with you?” The question “Why are you still single?” can make someone feel uncomfortable; it feels like veiled judgment regardless of the inquisitor’s intentions.
- “Let me guess: you’re ‘working on yourself’…”
So “taken” people discontinue personal development or they don’t need it? Do you think us single people really need to get our shit together or what? Everyone can make strides in the self-improvement department. This can be a condescending statement, but it doesn’t have to be. Drawing the conclusion of “wow, you’re doing a lot to work on yourself” after discussing personal initiatives is welcomed; asserting the statement “you must be working on yourself” before knowing the first thing about me (aside from my relationship status) is not.
- “You should get an online dating profile.”
Though I’ve never done anything with it, I’ve created a profile or two before out of sheer curiosity. I am not bashing online dating. In fact, our society—apart from dating—hinges largely upon online relationship building. I know the online dating option is there, but please stop suggesting it. Online dating is just so… constructed. People can present whatever images of themselves they want online. Did it take him 37 hours to populate those fields on the dating profile with what he thinks women want in a man? I want to meet the real him.
- “Send me a picture.”
Of my dog? Shut up. That statement (without any context or qualifications) is so suggestive. Maybe try “I miss your smile. Shoot me a picture?” Otherwise, you prowling “send me a picture” guys, IDFWU.
- “Don’t you get lonely?”
Why do people assume single people are lonely people? We have family, friends, mentors, coworkers, pets, entertainment we enjoy by ourselves, and—for many of us—God. Everyone has moments of loneliness, but despite my usual singleness, no, I don’t feel lonely very often. To be a friend to yourself is to love yourself. I feel sorry for people who can’t stand to be alone—those that must always be around others. Is there a void you’re filling? I believe it’s important to be comfortable and happy when immersed in nothing but your own thoughts with the company of no one but yourself. I think the loneliest feeling in the world is to be in the presence of others while feeling alone or out of place—wishing to be somewhere else with someone else or with no one at all. Please rethink the notion that single equals loneliness.
- “Don’t you want to get married?”
I would like the right person to come into my life and complement me well. If that eventually leads to a happy marriage, then the answer is yes. But am I striving to get rocked up? No. If I wanted to be “taken” right now, I would be. Finding a guy to scoop me up is not hard to do; finding one who captivates me, intrigues me, inspires me, enhances my life on deep levels, and has that special “something” is another story. A better question would be, “If you were to commit yourself to a long-term relationship, which traits do you foresee your partner having?”
- “You’re too pretty to be single.”
Thanks, but no thanks. That might initially make me blush, but people are much more than their appearances. If you don’t communicate that sentiment and understanding shortly after this assertion, our conversation will be ending shortly. If you’re too shallow to see beyond the surface, you’ll never get past this point with me. Call me “intriguing,” “thought-provoking,” or anything less superficial than “pretty.” I know you can be a little more creative with your pickup lines or flatteries than that. If not, see ya later… except not.
- “You should be a stay-at-home wife.”
That statement is offensive, because it can easily be inferred as implying a woman has nothing else to offer the rest of the world. There is nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home wife, but this statement makes me feel like a guy thinks I should dedicate my life to pleasing a man—abandoning all other endeavors. If you’re intending to make me feel like a trophy, I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be stored away on a shelf. I want a partner but I also want to make my own indelible mark on the world—outside the confines of my husband’s compound. Cue one of my favorite songs, “Cater 2 U” by Destiny’s Child. I want to serve my man, but please don’t act like domestic duties are all I have to offer.
- “Who’s the lucky guy?”
Why do you assume I have a significant other? Why do young women have the expectation of “taken”? Or are you just trying to flatter me by inferring my imaginary, implied partner would be a lucky guy? That question (depending on how the rest of the interaction shakes out) could be a cute zinger from a stranger to start conversation at a bar, but it simply gets old coming from acquaintances. Once asked, it makes me feel like I have to elaborate on my recent dating history—or lack thereof, rather. Barf. Plus, if I’m in a relationship, I’m sure I would consider myself “lucky,” because I know my man will be a gem. Relationships are a two-way street.
- “How are you still single?”
What do you mean by “how”? I’m not taking relationship applications. Why are you acting like singleness is something I must be intentionally working on maintaining? It’s not something I strive to protect. I don’t bash glass slippers over the heads of “knights in shining armor” who come my way. It’s simple really… I have numerous responsibilities and activities with which to occupy my time, energy, and thoughts. I’m not concerned about my singleness. If “taken” happens, it happens. Until then, I’m just doing me.
May your conversations be deep and your relationships deeper…