75 Things Single People Wish You’d Stop Saying
"There are plenty of fish in the sea..."
Being single—especially as you get older—has major plusses. You’ve got more time and money to spend on yourself, and you can live more spontaneously, too. But that doesn’t mean singledom doesn’t come without some drawbacks, as well. The big one being that your married friends and family are constantly interviewing you, testing you, and wondering when you’re going to settle down yourself.
If you’re single, you’ll definitely recognize the following 75 comments and questions as totally obnoxious and annoying. And if you’re in a relationship, try to spare your single friends the inquisition, okay?
“Why are you still single?”
This is just one of the most offensive questions out there. “When you ask someone why they are single, it indicates that there is something wrong with being alone,” says Shelley Mechette, author of 70 Days of Happy: Life is Better When You Smile. “Deciding to be single is never a problem, but being in a relationship just to say that you’re not single, could be.”
“So, are you dating anyone?”
The classic. If you were dating someone you wanted people to know about, you probably would’ve mentioned it, right? This is especially irritating if it’s asked by someone you haven’t seen in a while.
“There are plenty of fish in the sea.”
No need for tired clichés—especially if it’s going to be one as bad, and downright unhelpful, as this. “There may be fish off the coast of Iceland, but right now your single pal may feel she’s in a pond the size of a hotel swimming pool, so that sentiment isn’t exactly helpful,” says Amy McCord Jones, a veteran wedding planner.
“I never liked (insert ex’s name here) anyway.”
No one wants to hear this. Even if your friends think your now-ex is just the worst, once upon a time, you liked them. (Also, if you and your ex rekindle the flame, a comment like this just guarantees things will be awkward.)
“You don’t want to end up alone, do you?”
Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. But who’s to say that, just because you’re not in a serious relationship at this exact moment, you’ll end up one way or the other ultimately?
“I know your time will come.”
You appreciate the vote of confidence, but you hate the feeling that your life is being reduced to something that can be needlepointed onto a pillow.
“Why don’t you spend time focusing on yourself instead?”
Just because you have time to date around doesn’t mean you don’t also have time to practice some self-care. After all, there’s a whole 24 hours in the day! That’s plenty of time to devote to face masks and going out on a date or two.
“How hasn’t anyone grabbed you up?”
It’s like you’re something to be purchased at your local store. This question seems to imply you’re somehow incomplete or in need of rescuing—if only the right person could come along and fulfill you.
“Don’t you want to have kids?”
You’re not even dating someone regularly, why would you be thinking about starting a family? Yet it’s surprising how often this comes up. Nicole Burgess, a relationship expert with Kiwi Searches, says that even if asked with good intentions, this is extremely inconsiderate. “Having children isn’t the right decisions for everyone,” says Burgess.
“I know what’s good for you.”
Sure, someone in your inner circle might know what’s “good” for you. But you know who knows what’s best for you? You do. “Just because someone is single doesn’t mean they are suddenly inadequate individuals of society. They don’t need you dictating their lives,” says Cherlyn Chong, dating specialist and the founder of Steps to Happyness.
“So what’s wrong with you?”
This one always stings, even if it’s paired with a little chuckle. You may not have been concerned that there was something wrong with you before, but now you can’t help but be a little worried.
“How’s the single life?”
As if you are the ambassador of the uncoupled, you get asked this by married friends who only have other married friends. They probably aren’t actually curious about how dating is going for you—but since you don’t have a spouse or children, they don’t know what else to ask you about.
“Deciding to get married is the best choice you’ll ever make.”
This kind of exhortation about the greatness of marriage and coupledom is not uncommon, especially coming from a happily married friend who has had a few drinks. But the unsolicited advice, given as if they are the authority on relationships, can get pretty annoying.
“Never get married.”
On the flip-side, negative takes on the trials of marriage can be as aggravating to a single person as idealizing the wonder of committed relationships—and for similar reasons. The person doing the advice-giving is speaking from their personal marriage or relationship, and if it happens to be miserable or frustrating, that’s too bad, but it doesn’t reflect the downside of relationships in general.
“Don’t worry, you’ll find the right person eventually.”
You weren’t worried. You know you’ll find someone you’re into eventually—or maybe you won’t. Either way, it’s not the constant source of stress that those in relationships seem to think it must be.
“You have to love yourself before someone else can love you.”
Wait, who said you didn’t love yourself? Besides, even if you do struggle with self-esteem issues, that doesn’t mean you’re unlovable! People can love you at any point in your life, and you don’t have to wait to let them in.
“I think it’s so great you’re happy being alone!”
Um, thanks? This is one of those comments you’re never really sure how to take. Should you not be happy? Do people in relationships have a monopoly on happiness? Of course not! So, go forth and continue living your best life.
“I think you’re single because…”
Nope. Stop right there. While it may be good-intentioned, trying to diagnose why someone is single is the dictionary definition of unsolicited advice. Besides, according to relationship expert David Bennett, “figuring out why someone is single is not always as simple as it might seem.”
“I can’t imagine having to date again!”
Dating isn’t exactly some awful, tedious, excruciating thing, like waiting in line at the DMV. Hey, maybe you’re the type of person who happens to like meeting new people!
“Maybe you should sign up for The Bachelor?”
“When I was your age, I was already married!”
It’s no secret that most people these days are in no rush to get married. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, just 26 percent of millennials were married in 2014—compared to the 48 percent of baby boomers who were married at the same age. So, next time Aunt Matilda urges you to tie the knot, let her you know you’ve got plenty of time.
“You’ll get lucky one day, just like I did!”
Also, why is being single considered unlucky? After all, you get the entire bed to yourself!
“Just give them another chance!”
While it can sometimes be helpful, Chong says this comment usually comes as unsolicited advice from someone who might not know the situation fully. “Single people are perfectly capable of making their own decisions, and therefore also perfectly capable of knowing when a date is just not going to work out,” she says.
“You’ll meet someone once you become the best version of yourself.”
Life is all about constant growth and change, so there’s no telling what the “best” version of yourself is or when you’ll be it. Frankly, we think you’re probably pretty great as it is.
“You just need to make yourself look a little more presentable!”
Even if it’s well-intentioned, this is actually pretty rude when you think about it—especially when it’s directed towards women and translates to: “Maybe you should try wearing more makeup.”
“When was the last time you went on a date?”
This question never seems to have a good answer. If it was last night, it can seem like all you do is date. If it was months ago, you sound like you’re having a terrible time with dating and not very good at it. It’s a no-win situation.
“What do you even do on the weekends?”
Just because you’re not paired off with one specific person doesn’t mean you hole up at home every weekend. You have friends. You have things you want to do. And you have things you need to do, too!
“Why don’t you want love?”
Why do some people consider love from a romantic partner the only real love that exists? After all, you have friends and family members who love you. You may not necessarily need, nor want, love from anyone else.
“What’s the dating scene like in this city?”
Just because you are single doesn’t mean you know everything about the dating scene in a given place!
“Have you read this dating book/seen this movie about dating?”
Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you live, breath, and think about dating at all times. Single people are often asked about the latest pop culture works that put their relationship status, or lack thereof, at the forefront—like a movie about a group of single friends or a book about dating—as if that’s the only topic they care about. Single folks are perfectly able to appreciate stories about committed couples, too.
“Haven’t you moved on yet?”
Being single for a while after a breakup doesn’t mean you haven’t moved on from your last relationship necessarily. Maybe you’ve realized how great it is to be single. Or maybe you just haven’t found someone new that you want to take that step with. It doesn’t mean you’re at home crying every night over your ex.
“Maybe you’re too picky.”
There’s nothing wrong with having high standards. In fact, clinical psychologist Roxy Zarrabi says these comments usually come from people who fear being alone themselves. “Rather than providing support, these messages can convey to the person on the receiving end that they can’t be happy alone, and that they should consider sacrificing their standards to be in a relationship,” she says.
“Can I play matchmaker?”
Some people just want to make it all about themselves! There are some serious downsides when your friend is invested in playing full-on matchmaker. The biggest risk is not that a date will go badly—but that it will go great and your friend will remind you for the rest of your relationship that it was them who made the relationship happen. No thanks!
“My friend would be perfect for you.”
Well, what if they aren’t perfect, the date is awkward, and now you have to worry about running into this person in the future when it comes to your mutual friend? Agreeing to a set-up might be a bigger risk than just seeking out dates on your own.
“Are you okay with being the third (or fifth) wheel?”
Unless they’re going on a tandem-bike ride around the city or competing in a cuddle-off or something, you’re going to have a perfectly fun time hanging out with couples as you would with singles. Your friends’ concern about you being uncomfortable is likely more about them than it is about you.
“Just keep putting yourself out there and you’ll find the right person.”
Thanks, but you’ll “put yourself out there” exactly as much as you’d like. This isn’t an exercise regimen you are trying to master—it’s just dating.
“I don’t know how you do it.”
Being single? It’s not really that tough!
“My friend’s single—you guys should meet up!”
The intentions are good, of course, but if the only thing you have in common with this person is that you’re both single, you’re not off to a great start.
“What are you doing to meet people?”
Who says you have to be doing something to meet people? The question seems to imply that it’s your job to be constantly on the lookout for a potential partner. You are living your life, and if that leads to meeting someone you’re into, that’s great. If not, no big deal!
“Are you putting yourself out there?”
Out where? The phrase “putting yourself out there” just brings to mind images of you going out to the street and waving a sign promoting your availability, or going to a bar and setting up shop.
“Can I be your plus-one?”
Everyone thinks they can muscle in on your wedding or event invites just because you don’t have a set partner who automatically gets that plus-one status. Nice try, but you’re rolling solo. Who knows who you’ll meet and you’ll have more fun!
“I wish I were still single.”
This comment usually comes with a rose-colored view of what single life is like—all freedom with no responsibility. The person saying it is clearly has a skewed vision of what life as a single person involves. It’s plenty of fun, sure, but it’s not all brief flings and late-night parties.
“You must have so much time on your hands.”
For similar reasons as the last comment, this one is aggravating in the way it misunderstands what single life is actually like—i.e. not all that different from life in a relationship, with plenty of things to worry about, people to see, and things to take care of. Not having a spouse or partner to check in on does not mean there aren’t plenty of other responsibilities you do have.
“Do you ever get lonely?”
Doesn’t everyone get lonely sometimes? “Many people feel just as lonely and isolated in relationships, yet it’s rare for them to be asked if they are lonely or miserable,” says Bennett. And it’s often asked with an overly concerned tone, as if you’ve been diagnosed with some incurable disease. You’re single—not dying.
“You’ve got to meet my friend—you guys would totally click.”
Again, while the set-up gesture is nice, nothing kills romance more than high expectations. It’s much better if a friend who wants you to connect with their friend just brings that friend the next time you guys hang out and you take it from there.
“So, what’d you think of _____?”
This is usually asked as soon as that newly introduced friend leaves the room, making it obvious that the entire evening was a surreptitious set-up. That arched eyebrow and knowing look they give you after you actually hit it off with one their friends makes the whole thing feel all a bit silly.
“You should use (insert fragrance here). It’s a magnet for dates.”
It’s unlikely that a scent is going to make the difference between a successful date and a less than stellar one. But if it did, what would that say about the person you were dating?
“How are you still single?”
How are you supposed to answer that? “Because I have a weird tic that only comes out on dates and scares people off.” “Because I have a dungeon you don’t know about.” “Because I don’t actually want to be in a relationship.” Maybe you’re single because you want to be single!
“Have you tried online dating?”
Newsflash: It’s 2019. Literally every single person on the planet is signed up for at least one online dating service.
“How are your profile pictures?”
Unless the person asking is a professional photographer, their inquiries into the photos you’ve got on Match.com will come off as voyeuristic rather than helpful.
“Can I try Tinder on your phone?”
This is a question you might hear from friends who’ve been in a relationship for years and haven’t dabbled in online dating. They’re amazed by the simplicity of the modern dating app and want to try it out vicariously through your phone. But next thing you know, they’ve set up seven dates for you and you’ve got no idea who you’re meeting up with.
“What kind of interests are you putting on your profile?”
Tell them your interests include “not answering ridiculous questions about my dating life.”
“You should always ask them questions about themselves.”
Thanks for the tip on basic social behavior.
“You will meet someone when you least expect it.”
That’s a very nice sentiment, but you’re not living in a romantic comedy and don’t need a cliché to make you feel good. How does this person know when you will meet someone? Unless they’re a legitimate seer, they can keep these opinions to themselves.
“That’s why you’re still single.”
The context matters a lot with a comment like this. Coming from a friend, this could be a playful joke about some bad habit you might have or a borderline mean thing you may have said. But it’s still an annoying, unnecessary comment that has a tendency to get under your skin.
“Ask him/her out for my sake.”
Those in committed relationships love to imagine what it would be like to be single again, and sometimes go so far as to direct you to get someone’s number to go on a date on their behalf. You’re not their dancing monkey! You’ll date who you want to date.
“When you are ready, God will send the right person.”
Those with spiritual leanings like to see relationships as preordained and part of some larger plan. And, while it’s a nice sentiment, it sure puts a lot of pressure on what might be just a casual date.
“You’ll find your soulmate soon.”
Like the last one, this elevates dating to soulmate-searching and makes the whole conversation a bit uncomfortable. After all, you may not be looking for a serious relationship, let alone a soulmate. And you shouldn’t feel guilty if all you want is a fling and a few fun dates.
“Have you prayed about it?”
Sorry, but that is way too personal of a question.
“Is this your boyfriend/girlfriend?”
Arrive to a party or event with another person and others are bound to assume that this is your significant other. It leads to plenty of awkward moments—especially if you just started casually dating that person… or aren’t dating them at all!
“Do you ever think of getting serious about someone and settling down?”
“Settling down” is one of the least appealing phrases a single person can hear.
“You know, rent’s cheaper as a couple.”
You know as well as anyone that “cost reduction” is hardly the best excuse to couple up. But thanks for the practical advice!
“You get better tax breaks when you’re married.”
Again, not a very compelling reason to run out and find someone to marry.
“Are you next?”
A favorite question at weddings—it’s asked as if everyone must get married and you must just be waiting eagerly for your turn. Can’t you just enjoy the wedding cake and dance to the cheesy ’70s songs without being pestered to join the ranks of the married?
“You should check out this great singles bar.”
Who says you have to go to a bar that’s designated for unattached people?
“You should join this singles’ group.”
Like singles bars, singles groups just reek of desperation. Why should you define your whole social life in terms of your lack of a partner? You just want to live your life, meet fun and interesting people, and do fun and interesting things—it doesn’t have to be with other single people or hold the promise of meeting a significant other for you to enjoy it.
“When can we expect grandchildren?”
Other variations include, “When can we expect a niece or nephew?” These come from out-of-touch family members who still ask about that ex you broke up with six years ago. They aren’t really interested in hearing your reasons for being single, or whether you’re happy about it. They just want baby photos.
“Whatever happened to (insert ex’s name here)?”
Yes, that ex from six years ago that still somehow gets brought up whenever the family gets together. You knew it was a risky move bringing them back that one Thanksgiving—and now you’ve paid the price for it every Thanksgiving since.
“Does it bother you that most of your friends are married?”
Thanks for the reminder, but no, it doesn’t often cross your mind that most of your friends are in serious relationships—except when other friends helpfully point it out and ask you how you feel about it.
“Is it serious?”
Non-singles are always eager to push singles into coupledom, and this is a go-to question you’ll get after mentioning you’ve gone on more than one date with someone. Stop prying!
“I think ____ likes you.”
No single person needs to hear this. You’re not in elementary school.
“Who do you have a crush on?”
Seriously, what is this, sixth grade?
“So, how long has it been since you… y’know?”
Your personal life is your personal life, and yours alone. What you do—or don’t do—behind closed doors isn’t anyone’s business.
“Well, are you happy?”
Again, relationships do not equal happiness.
“Have you seen (insert ex’s name here’s) new partner?”
Yeah, we’re all on Instagram and Facebook. Anyone who asks this clearly doesn’t know the truth: You’re better than them. Full stop. And to really make the most of being single, here are 12 Genius Ways to Happily Fly Solo As a Single Person.
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