the real reason it’s hard being single
“Girl, I can’t believe you’re still single. I should totally set you up with one of my friends!”
I have heard this more than once. My friends who are in romantic relationships sometimes pity my solitary state and try to “fix it” by matching me up with someone.
The funny thing is, I rarely feel sad about my lack of boyfriend/fiancé/husband. Sure, I would love to get married. I definitely feel lonely at times and the small hopes I’ve had in the past have made the disappointment quite bitter for seasons. I definitely want to have a husband and family someday–now would be nice!
However, the hardest thing about being single is not singleness. It’s loneliness.
This is what I wish more of my friends who are dating, engaged or married understood about singleness. The real reason it’s hard being single may not be what you’d guess.
Not having the relationship I want can make me sad, but more often I feel sad because I feel left out of the relationships I do have.
Even if I’m feeling wonderful about this season of my life, in no way yearning for a romantic relationship, I fight the feeling of exclusion when my friends are on a double date.
Or dancing at a wedding.
Or giggling on the couch as my sentence eventually trails off because apparently no one is listening to me.
I am in no way insinuating that people who have a significant other should never go out, never dance and never giggle. These are all things I’m sure I’ll feel entitled to if I ever have someone special in my life!
The point is, some sensitivity to your single friends would be appreciated.
Not sympathy, just simple courtesy.
So girlfriend, when we’re together, try to keep in mind that my friends and family are my most significant relationships. You may well be the person I come to for advice, companionship, love. Maybe you can confide in and rely on your “significant other,” but I need people too.
I need you.
As much as I fight the feelings of envy and count my blessings as “a single,” the truth remains: single folks just get left out sometimes. And it stinks.
Whether you’re dating, engaged or have been married for years, you probably still have some single friends. Take a moment to consider if you’re including your single friends enough.
Are they welcome in all areas of your church or merely events designated for “singles”? Are they included warmly in your social circle? Are they still getting your full attention, even if just for an occasional conversation?
You see, though my married friends now each have a best friend who has made a covenant to be there for them through thick and thin, I still need my friends just like I did before they said “I do.” I don’t have a special person to listen to my rants, push me toward my dreams or share my secrets. I still need you to be part of society, out here where I remain.
Be faithful and loving and attentive to your man, but I think I speak for all singles when I ask you not to forget us!
We are still here and we desperately need your friendship.
But you know what else I wish non-singles realized?
You desperately need us, too.
That’s how The Body of Christ works. We all need each other, whether we’ve been married for years or called to a life of singleness or somewhere else on the journey, we all need to be a part of the journey, and we all need the rest of the body to be a part, too.
When we stop excluding one another and start appreciating the unique life stages of our brothers and sisters, I know we will find the blessings of friendship to be mutual and the reward to be rich.
(originally published in 2014; edited from the archives)
Photography: JenniMarie Photography
Thanks for sharing!
It’s important perspective and helped me to remember to be so grateful for my dear friends–almost all of whom are married.
I’m not sure if it’s because many of them got married older or some other factor. But I actually find my married friends do an exceptional job of caring for me well as I’m still in the waiting to be with my husband.
I have multiple friends who I talk with multiple times a week who know my heart and care for it well. My friends are 100% there for me with whatever I’m going through with dating. And they do a really good job of being conscious of times that might be hard for me.
I have one friend in particular who makes sure that my birthday is well celebrated and her, her husband, and their four boys have thrown a Valentine’s Day party for me and other single ladies for the last two or three years. It’s super adorable where they make decorations and cards and really go all out to make us feel loved and special.
I couldn’t make it through this long season–36 and yet to be wed–without them. Friends are such a blessing and they remind me every day I’m well loved! I hope and pray everyone can experience this in whatever season they find themselves in.
Married ladies–we need you! I know from experience that you need us too! 🙂
Oh my word! You hit the hammer right on the nail with this post in a good way. I too sometimes here the phrase, “Girl, I can’t believe you are still single!” Yes, I am 30 and still single. That isn’t a bad thing at all, I do love this part in my life. There are so many things I don’t have to worry about such as how to support a family, or worry about a house or car payment I don’t have to worry about things that parents or married folks have to worry about. I can babysit and the kids get to go home to their parents at the end of our time together. However, you put it so right when you said that singles just get left out sometimes. There are times when I too feel left out of the relationships I have. The only “boys” in my life are my nephews ranging in age from 4 to 10, but I don’t necessarily have a boy who holds my hand or buys me flowers. There are times I feel lonely in a room full of married people. The only person who takes me out to lunch is an elderly friend who is 60 years older than me. I know what it’s like to be left out of the relationships you have sometimes. I know what it is to watch the married folks around you hold hands, gaze into each other’s eyes, giggle, and all the other romantic things that significant others or married people do. I wouldn’t want to be denied any of those things if I was married either, but sometimes it does make me feel excluded. I totally know where you are coming from. I don’t feel sad because I don’t have a Man in my life either, but I do also ask for courtesy of the married folks around me to remember that I’m single, nor do I have someone to gaze lovingly into my eyes, or buy me pretty flowers, or say sweet things in my ear, or hold my hand. Yes, I totally get what you say when you said that the only one who holds your hand is the 3 year old you babysit, because the only ones who hold my hand are my nephews and nieces under the age of 10. There is someone out there who understands where you are at.
Thank you so much for sharing!
Thank you so much, Bethany! It’s great to meet a kindred spirit! Thanks for commenting and sharing. 🙂
Thanks for sharing this. I’d say one of the most obvious things married friends change without thinking is birthdays. As a single I celebrate by including the people who are significant to me. As I got older it became more noticeable the lack of reciprocal invites. Boyfriends, husbands & their own family soon take precedent, and it becomes obvious which friends value the friendship & which view it as a fill-in season before they get what they really want.
The long term consequences aren’t considered. No matter how amazing the spouse, or how stable the marriage, they can’t do it all & meet all the needs. It is frustrating to meet married women who complain about the lack of support, but when asked what happened to their before-marriage friends they either don’t know or make some excuse as to why they didn’t keep up the friendship.
If you are the one to make major changes in your life then it’s your responsibility to let people know they are still welcome. It’s embarrassing to try to maintain a friendship with someone who then makes me feel like a unwelcome intrusion.
This is a good reminder and it breaks my heart in a way because I miss my girlfriends SO much sometimes. I still want to be with THEM…even though I’m in the married club now. It definitely goes both ways, and I find myself wondering who should make the first move…which sounds silly because I know I could just go and call or text one of my girlfriends, single or otherwise. But I wonder…am I even fun to be around? By the photos online I can tell their social life isn’t exactly suffering without me in it. And scheduling conflicts are the worst…I always have to compare my schedule with my husband’s now before making plans, and a lot of times I just can’t make those girls’ nights work, even without considering the child factor. Just between you and me, there is nothing like girl talk! And watching chick flicks in female company! Anyway, just know that we still love our single sisters so much, and we miss you, too. Sometimes we might need to take a little break for a season, but we’ll gradually figure out our priorities and be able to get back into fellowship.
This was such a good reminder! Marriage can be lonely, especially when in an adjustment period. People never stop needing friends, even if they’ve married their BEST friend. I’d encourage you to prioritize time with your girlfriends again, and, when you can’t do that, text them and let them know when you’re thinking of them. They probably assume you’re too busy these days. Show them you still care! 🙂
I’d suggest you go ahead and make the first move. It’s easy for the single girls to think, “I’m not the one who changed (situations, martial status, etc.)… how do I know if she still wants to keep up our friendship?”
Yes, yes, yes!
Okay, honestly, I do want to be married. I do want a man who cares about me — all those things you said about doing life alone and no one caring. I truly am excited and happy for my friends who get married or announce their engagements, or earlier on, when the relationship is still developing yet to arrive at these milestones. They sometimes think my tears are jealousy, or envy, or self-pity. I won’t deny that those are sometimes there. But the intense pain of singleness is deepest when they’re so lost in that relationship that I’m more alone than ever. Their announcement so often means I’m losing (another!) friend. It’s not that I don’t care about that friend anymore. It’s just that they suddenly stop caring to share life with me because they share it so closely and deeply with that significant other.
That’s exactly how I feel sometimes! You no longer feel needed when your friend has a husband. However, as Elizabeth commented, that’s not always true. We will still need our girlfriends when we get married! Marriage can be lonely too because we miss our old friends and time with other girls. Do your best to keep in touch with your married friends and they will likely reciprocate. So many changes come along with marriage, especially when you’re young…it can be hard to balance everything.
Thank you so much for this, Caroline…I’m only very recently “not single,” which still feels very strange after almost thirty years of singleness, but I want so much to be sensitive to my still-single friends, since I know that season of life so well–and yet I can already sense how easy it will be to forget and to hurt and leave out precious friends without even realizing it. So I needed this beautiful reminder from you–thank you! The Lord bless you, dear girl.
You sound very wise and sensitive to your friends. You are off to a great start! Let your single friends know you have not forgotten them and I’m sure you’ll be just as welcome in their circle as ever. Blessings to you too, dear.
This is great! And very true. My second best friend got married this week (the other married a few moths ago) and it’s hard feeling like I’m the odd one out in the trio now. I am sooo excited for them but it is still difficult when they’re taking a goofy pic of the newlyweds’ rings or talking about their significant others, etc.
I teased them about being “old married women” (though I’m between them in age and we are all three weeks apart, it was a joke emphasizing how everyone is growing and changing) and one responded with “it’s better than being an old… What’s it called? An old maid.”
I laughingly agreed (as I’m prone to do initially) and then was struck with what that implied as I realized that I didn’t really agree at all. I don’t think she meant to be hurtful, and I hope she wasn’t hurt by what I said in full jest.
It is hard, not knowing my place anymore.
Ah, you are in a tough spot. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t part of God’s plan. You’ve probably heard that before, but what I mean here is, you and your friends are still in positions to bless each other. It will be a great blessing to both of your friends if you glide through this season gracefully (easier said than done, yes?) and do not allow bitterness or hurt feelings to come between y’all. Be open with your rejoicing and, in good time and under appropriate circumstances, honest about any feelings of being left out or lonely. You don’t have your old place anymore, that is true. This happens in nearly every relationship, even the most natural (thin of the change in your relationship with your mom from when you’re a little child to when you’ve got kids of your own.) But you have a NEW place and God has NEW plans for you here. Blessings to you, “odd one out.” I’m saying a prayer for you tonight.
Thank you for the encouragement and prayer!
New dynamics (especially since one married my brother), but we have been friends much too long to let our friendships fall by the wayside!
I tend to love all the posts from ylcf (or KG now) but I keep realizing you’re the author of the posts I find myself relating to most!
Thanks girl! I whole hardheartedly agree with you that it’s the feeling left out that makes singleness the hardest. Sure I want to married, but i’m also ok and content being single. The pain comes as others move into a new season. I have had beautiful friendships continue after my friends got married, but only with a lot of work, communication and understanding. Thanks for sharing!
Katie gets it. 😀
And you’re so encouraging. I know that it’s going to take extra work to remain close to my now married friends, but it can work! It’s the feeling of being left behind that’s the hardest. I wonder why that is?
This was lovely, Caroline. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. <3
Thank YOU for all your encouragement while I wrote it. 🙂
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