5 Questions Singles Wish You Wouldn't Ask
Statistically speaking, 100% of us are single or have been at some point in our lives. Regardless of our current relationship status, we all have opportunities to interact with singles—at work, at play, at church, and pretty much anywhere people gather. What does it look like to not just acknowledge but also to welcome the not married in our midst? We can start with being thoughtful about the questions we do (and don't) ask.
Darby and Kelsey, two single women, share some helpful ideas below.
Maybe don’t ask me this if you don’t know my middle name.
1. Have you ever been in a serious relationship?
2. How old are you? (see story below)
3. Are you on dating apps?
4. Do you know _________ (only other single person you happen to know)?
5. Have you tried doing __________(to not be single anymore)?
Reasons for singleness are an important part of the conversation:
- By choice (celibacy, asexuality, LGBT but committed to the traditional biblical sexual ethic, called to singleness, whatever)
- By circumstance (death/divorce/etc.)
- Not by choice (want to be married, waiting)
A lot of people assume single folks in the church are just itching to be married, and some are…but some (me) are focused on other areas of life.
Questions I would like to be asked instead:
1. How are you?
Maybe I’m reading into this, but sometimes I feel like some married people feel awkward around me. Maybe I just feel awkward? Feels like some people forgot how to make small talk that isn’t about their spouse and/or kids- not that I can’t chit chat about that, but are my only options to talk about that or be ignored?
2. How can married people/families make you feel included in day-to-day life?
I’m going to answer my own question. I would love to just be invited over to dinner. Super grateful I have family nearby but there’s something about being invited into someone’s home that is so kind and thoughtful… I’ll bring dessert!!
3. How can we make single people feel seen in the church?
Chase Oaks does a good job of this, but I really appreciate it when social categories are listed and they don’t just stop at spouse/family. For example, for serve day, there was an emphasis on serving WITH spouses, families, groups, friends, neighbors…
4. Why does this even matter?
The church has idolized marriage and family to such an extent that it can be awkward to feel a part of a church without checking those boxes… especially if there isn’t a huge single population where you’re at. I don’t want anyone to feel like they have to sit alone at church. Church should be the place where nontraditional family thrives because we adopt each other into our inner circles.
I was recently at a wedding, date-less, and sat at a table of married and engaged people. At one point, one of the men turned to me and asked, “how old are you?” When I said, “23,” his face lit up and he said: “You have so much time! You are so young. Plenty of time to find someone, don’t rush it.”
I had not mentioned anything about wanting to be married or be in a relationship. His question and comments annoyed me because he made so many assumptions based on nothing, but God gave me some extra grace and so I asked him and his fiancé: “Cool! How old are you two?”
He said, “Well, I’m 28, and she’s 24.” You can imagine the face I tried to suppress when he said his fiancé was only a year older than me...right after waxing about how young I was and how much time I had. Just felt super weird. Why are we talking about this? I am super young and have so much time, but your 24-year-old fiancé is just right? I know he didn’t mean anything hurtful by it, and I’m sure he was trying to be super kind in the context of societal and Christian subculture norms, but it struck me as weird.
To tack onto Darby’s story above, I still get the same kinds of comments, that I "still have time at age 32" (even though I know things really need to get moving to fill in the bigger timeline the way I'd like). But at least society seems to have slowed down the flood of “time is ticking!!!” comments and messages to unmarried women.
Here are some questions I would love for people to ask me:
1. How can we include you well?
So much of this world is set up for pairs, couples, families, etc. Even though so many people include me, it can sometimes feel third-wheel ish, or we are an alienated category that can seem...foreign...to them. Think "Undercover Boss." They may have been with someone so long it's hard to relate to being without.
Some couples I know are good at this, but with some, I feel like the kid in the backseat.
2. To build on that, what's tangible way I can help you out from time to time?
I'm always running my household on my own...I feel like people who run it as a family/couple can divide and conquer their time much better.
3. Are you happy where you are?
In other words, do but also don't feel sorry for us. Check in! If we are not living our best lives, maybe it's time to change that. While most of us might prefer different relationship circumstances, we are not perpetually sad/just sitting around and waiting for something to happen.
And here are the top five questions I'd like to ask the once-single, now-married:
1. How do you adjust from going from the hyper-independent single life to living with someone, relying on someone, etc.? What are some of your best tips? I'm going to need them!
2. What is something to look forward to in that stage of life?
3. What is something to watch out for?
4. Is there anything you wish you would have done differently?
Bottom line: no matter if your status is "single" or "other," some basic, thoughtful questions can make a difference to the singles in our midst.