Things You Should Never Say to a Single Friend
Despite our best intentions, the things we say to our single friends can be hurtful—and occasionally even devastating. Relationship and wellness expert Deepak Kashyap reveals six phrases you should strike from your conversations.
“But you’re so gorgeous!”
Although you might offer a compliment like this thinking it will boost your single friend’s spirits, it could be interpreted in a way that’s actually insulting on a much deeper level. Specifically, it could be read to imply the reason they’re single lies beyond surface appearances, and might be down to some flaw in character or personality. Contrary to popular opinion, beauty and charm aren’t a protective shield against feelings of loneliness, nor do they provide an advantage in the gamble we know as “finding a suitable match.” Your friend’s attractiveness may spark the initial interest of a romantic partner, but it ultimately doesn’t improve their chances of a successful, long-lasting, or meaningful relationship.
“Don’t worry—you’ve still got lots of time.”
One surefire way to make a single friend anxious about getting older is to remind them that somewhere, a clock is ticking. Although this comment often comes from a good place (it’s meant to reassure and comfort), it can actually makes things worse simply by assuming that your single friend feels some sort of pressure to meet an (imaginary) deadline.
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“I’ll tell you what the problem is…”
Just… Don’t. Any comment that begins with “I’ll tell you what the problem is…” gives you an air of omniscience over your single friend’s problems and personality. Finding a potential partner and building a fruitful and intimate relationship is never going to be easy (for anyone!), and there’s never just one reason a perennially single friend remains single. Judgmental, over-simplified statements like these not only ignore the delicate nuances of your friend’s situation, but also make the fundamental faux pas of suggesting that being single itself is a problem.
This marriage advice from the 1950s still applies today.
“Are we ever going to see a ring on that finger?”
Perhaps you should instead be asking yourself, “Are you ever going to see that person as a complete human being in the absence of a ring?” The question, “Are we ever going to see a ring on that finger?” implies that, without the ring, your friend is pitiable, or in some way, not whole. While most of us do long for a happy, meaningful romantic relationship with another person, the fact of the matter is, some people don’t: They either feel no romantic compulsions whatsoever, or feel fulfillment even without a partner. As the British poet and activist Warsan Shire so beautifully put, “My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.”
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“I’ve got the perfect guy for you!”
Let’s be clear: there’s nothing inherently sinister about wanting to play matchmaker. In fact, provided you’ve got the best intentions, it can even be admirable. However, before saying this to a single friend, you might first confirm that your friend is open to meeting people and dating. There are any number of reasons that a friend might not be interested in pursuing a relationship at the moment, and having a deep and open conversation about those reasons can often be more helpful than pairing them off with (your idea of!) the perfect match.
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“You’re just too picky.”
It’s true—some of us put up barriers that prevent us from finding lasting love. It’s important to remember, however, that those barriers tend to have been put up in response to some kind of trauma that we’ve endured. With this in mind, try cultivating an empathetic perspective (putting yourself in your friend’s shoes) rather than a critical one (seeking to lay the blame).
Next, find out how to ditch the small talk and have meaningful conversations.