Finally, we have a term for it: single shaming. A long overdue concept describing the snide comments, inappropriate questions, and unsolicited advice directed toward those who’ve spent even a few adult years sans partner. Now armed with a label, it’s time to do something about it. But here’s the catch—most of us, singles included, unwittingly fall into single shaming without even realizing it.
Are you guilty of single shaming? Here are five comments you may make that subtly imply your friend is somehow "less than" without a partner.
1. “You’re too picky.”
Really? How is it even possible to be too selective when choosing a life partner? We’re talking about forever here! We should applaud those with high standards and encourage people to trust themselves to know what sort of companion works best for them. This single shaming comment covertly suggests it’s better to be with someone—anyone—than go it alone. Do we really want to urge people to “settle?”
2. “You’ll meet someone when you’re finally happy by yourself.”
Here’s the reality—people fall in love every day. Some of these folks are perfectly content flying solo; others, not so much. This single shaming notion assumes that singles are less happy or emotionally stable than those in relationships and that as soon as they get their act together, they’ll meet “The One.” Frankly, in many cases, the exact opposite is true. Brave enough to tackle adult life on their own, singles are self-sufficient and often emotionally stronger than those who’ve always had someone to lean on.
3. “I just don’t understand why you’re still single!”
Listen, your single friends are as baffled as you are. They know they’re a catch! They’re well aware of all they have to offer a relationship. They don’t understand it either. This single shaming remark puts singletons in a position of having to explain something that perplexes them as well. And think about it, just exactly how would you expect them to respond to such a statement?
4. “You just have to get back out there!”
Everyone tells singles to get back “out there” but no one seems to know exactly where “out there” is! This single shaming cliché implies a lack of effort—if they’d just buckle down and get back “out there” they’d meet the love of their life in no time. But many singles try very hard for many years and get pretty darn exhausted and demoralized. To avoid utter burn out, they may step back from the mixers and put the Match account on hold for a while. Don’t shame them for recognizing they need a break. Talk about kicking someone when they’re down!
5. “Are you seeing anyone?”
It’s called a personal life because it’s just that—personal. Most singles will be quick to share any exciting news about their love lives. But by focusing on what’s not going on in their lives, you’re dismissing what is going on. Ask about their career, hobbies, travels, volunteer work—anything! Let them bring up the love life when there’s something to talk about. This single shaming question insinuates the most important part of people’s lives is their relationship status and everything else pales in comparison.
If you’ve caught yourself thinking or saying any of the above, it’s time to admit it—you may have slipped into single shaming. Not to worry! There’s an easy fix: examining the assumptions you make about your single friends and watching what you say to them can make all the difference.