Saturday, 12 January 2013

How Singles Can Annoy Married People

Note to New Readers: I have written for Single people, in a Single-positive way, for six years, at least six days a week. This is the only post I have ever written in all that time that describes why married people occasionally get fed up with their Single friends. Many Single people have complained to me that they feel abandoned by married friends. Whereas the number one reason why they don't see their married friends so much any more is that with marriage comes responsibilities, work, and a husband who often wants his wife to stay home and keep him company, there are indeed a few things that bug some married people about some of their single friends and acquaintances and even just single strangers.

I am posting this explanation because I am tired of complete strangers telling me I hate Singles.

I will have to breathe in and out for a bit to get my composure. I made the mistake of entering into a Facebook conversation about Singledom.

There was a complaint that the Church does "nothing" for Single people, which is what I was going to write about, but then I caught a remark directed at me that contradicted my feelings of being alone on New Year's Eve.

I had volunteered that my husband and I were alone on New Year's Eve because most of our friends were at a party for Singles, and how great it was that Singles could take matters in their own hands and plan events for themselves. The divorced person pointed out that I was not really alone, as I was with I was my husband. ":-)"

I saw red.

One should never write anything when seeing red, so I clicked away from Facebook.

I will not go into the reasons (yet) I saw red, or a defense of my feelings of loneliness on New Year's Eve, which actually had nothing to do with the Singles' party and something to do with being 5,338 kilometers from home and family. Instead I will try to write something constructive.

I have been writing for Singles for at least six years, and I was Single from birth until 25 and then (arguably) from the age of 26 to 38, although the annulment didn't come through until I was 28. So that's at least ten years of dithering What-Is-My-Vocation? and Where-Is-He? Single Life, plus much correspondence with Single people. And, admittedly unusually, most of my social circle in Edinburgh is composed of Single people. I want you to keep that in mind when you read my following remarks.

One of the biggest complaints of Singles that I come across is that they are left out of social events hosted by Married Friends. I imagine this is true of some Married Friends, including B.A. and me, although we have no policy of shunning Single friends. Our resources are limited, so we invite some friends some times, and others other times. We invite Singles alone or with other Singles or with Married people, or entertain just one or two Married couples, and we don't think marital status is much of a guest list issue. (I might briefly ponder the kindness of a guest being the ONLY Single there, and the danger of being suspected of setting up the ONLY female Single guest with the ONLY male Single guest.)

B.A. and I entertain unusually often for Married People, and here is something Singles often don't get: Married People don't usually have much time or inclination for non-family parties.(Married men are notoriously wedded to sofa and TV.)

This is particularly true if they have children. Children are often so embarrassing and their behaviour so non-adult, that it seems to their parents a kindness to inflict them only on their relations, who love them, and on other adults with children, who are guaranteed to understand/be immune.

Also, the Married State is so different from the Single State that Married People often find a relief in the company of Married People we do not find among Singles. There is just so much that can be explained without words.

And then some Single people (not all, obviously, since my own Single friends tend not to do this) annoy Married People by constantly talking about being Single, and how sad it is to be Single, and how much better it is to be Married, and how lucky the Married friend is.

Some Married People (like me) do not mind talking to Single People about their Single state. Others can't stand it.

Some Married People, perceiving the Singleness as a problem to be solved, offer thoughtful spouse-hunting advice, which the Single tearfully rejects. Some Married People, thinking one should look on the Bright Side of Single Life, suggest ways in which other Singles have found happiness, which the Single tearfully rejects.

Some Married People invite a Single woman and a Single man to the same parties, thinking these Singles will be pleased, only to be berated later. Some Married People avoid matchmaking entirely, only to be berated eventually.

With some Singles, some Married People think they just can't win.

In short, it's not necessarily because a Single is Single that she or he isn't invited to parties.

One of the things about being Married is that you see Single life from the other side, and can report back to Single friends about what useful information you can now see. So here is what I've learned:

Here are ways to annoy a Married Person:

1. Deny or belittle her experiences or feelings, particularly with the remark "Well, at least you have a husband."

Married Woman: I miss my family so much.
Unusually Clueless Single: Well, at least you have a husband.

Married Woman: Actually I was in hospital. Miscarriage.
Unusually Clueless Single: I'm sorry. Well, at least you have a husband.

Married Woman: Paid work, housework. Paid work, housework. Paid work, housework. Visit parents. Visit in-laws. It never ends, and I never have time to myself, and sometimes I wish I could just run away to Paris for a weekend.
Unusually Clueless Single: Well, at least you have a husband.

2. Tell a Married Person what marriage is supposed to be like (beyond non-abusive).

Unusually Clueless Single: Sex isn't really that important to a marriage, is it?

Unusually Clueless Single: The work of marriage should be 50-50!

Unusually Clueless Single: The most important thing is that sex be romantic!

Unusually Clueless Single: NFP is just so easy! Why would anyone ever be tempted to use anything else?

3. Upbraid a Married Person for noticing that some of the 3.5 billion men she is not married to are attractive. Trowel on the shame. Go on. She deserves it.

Married Woman: Ah, that new usher is certainly a charmer!

Unusually Clueless Single: I'm really shocked to hear you say that. You, a married woman!

4. Upbraid or gossip about a Married Person for inviting you to a party in which you were the only Single, or the only Single your age, or one of two Singles, the other being male.

5. Upbraid or gossip about a Married Person for not inviting you to a party in which you would have been the only Single, or the only Single your age, or one of two Singles, the other being a male who could have been the One.

In general, people like people who are happy, upbeat, don't complain much and don't take swipes at them for their way of life. And most of my Single friends are like that, which is one reason why I have so many Single friends.

Don't worry. I will soon write another post on ways in which Married People Can Annoy Singles, although readers will be much more up-to-date on that than I!


Anna said...

In these cases you have entertainingly and courageously described, Auntie, wouldn't it be the rudeness and self-centeredness that is the problem, not the singleness? I can't imagine that marriage would all of a sudden change a person into compassionate and gentle, but who knows.

When one is lonely as a single, it is easy to fall into the mindset that married people have it So Much Better. As you mentioned, married people like to hang out with other married people and sometimes that bothers single people. Often, single people feel like married people have the power - socially, they are treated more like adults by the larger community (as should be, but which can be difficult if you are an otherwise adult person who just happens to be single). I think the solution is for singles to find a way to become part of something larger than themselves. So singles should do whatever they can to minister to others, to make themselves useful and creative, to make friends and host parties and to not expect married people to provide that for them. That will help give them self-respect and make them stop feeling so much like they are dependent on married people to acknowledge them as equals.

And it's not like married people don't ever feel left out. Every year, I plan something with my single girlfriends for Valentine's Day, and inevitably a married woman friend complains about being left out! (This year, we are inviting a married woman friend whose husband will be working on Valentine's Day). In another instance, a married couple who invited a single friend that they were friends with to their baby's baptism were hurt that this friend didn't bother to show up.

In any case, I hate to read about singles behaving badly, because you are so compassionate towards us and it should spur us to be compassionate toward you!

n.panchancha said...

Ugh. Good reply above. I know that it can be hard to be a single person who wants to be married, and it can be very tempting to fall into resentment or envy or bitterness from time to time, but for heaven's sake. I don't know if there's any excuse to be this self-centred.

On the trying-to-be charitable side, though, I can imagine that sometimes a well-meaning single friend might be honestly (perhaps naively) trying to cheer up a married friend (rather than trying to trivialize her problems) when saying, "At least you have your husband" - as in, "Let's focus on the positive." Definitely not the wisest listening/emotional support tactic, but it could be kindly meant. It could be just as tempting, for instance, for a childless person to say to a friend with children, who is complaining about getting no sleep or about her child's problems, "But at least you have kids." (And, of course, it's probably true that the friend is ultimately grateful for her children, but - it's not a very sensitive way of listening.)

okiegrl said...

Yes, I agree with the comment above. I think often the "At least you have a husband" comment is kindly meant, if tone deaf. Often single people live far away from family and established friendships, and many times they live alone. I think the comment is trying to point out that having one person to be around beats having no one around. Of course having a husband around does not lessen the longing for family that is far away.

Seraphic said...

The problem with "At least you have a husband", even if kindly meant, is that it betrays that the Single person is seeing the situation, not from her/his friend's perspective, but from his/her own.

And the poor married person can hardly say back to the Single person, "Well, THAT'S TRUE" as if the Single person were inherently pitiable.

I think Anna hits the nail on the head when she sees the problem as being self-absorption. The "Poor me, poor me, what do YOU have to complain about, let's get back to me" attitude is definitely not something that marriage can automatically cure, although in many cases it eventually DOES!

Society's focus on coupledom, and the fact that mature, loving, faithful couples are not allowed (and don't really want) to complain about each other can definitely give Singles the impression that Married Life is cloudless and a big party that they are being kept out of.

Speaking of parties, I was so shocked when I went home to Canada after a year for a long-awaited Girls' Night. I was SO SHOCKED to find out that my close-knit bunch of theology school girlfriends--two of whom were married to COUSINS--hadn't seen each other for months and months. I assumed they were all meeting up for cocktails biweekly or something, but no. Too busy. And that was a very good thing for me to know in future, as I sat in Edinburgh bewailing my lack of Girls' Nights.

okiegrl said...

Seraphic,yes, I agree that the Single commenter is being rather self-absorbed in the conversation. I wasn't implying that the Single was right,just that they weren't necessarily trying to be annoying or mean.

As you said, society puts so much emphasis on coupledom. That can lead Singles to devalue other relationships in comparison to what they do not have. It doesn't make it right by any means. It seems to me that human nature often wants the one thing that it does not have.

healthily sanguine said...

I think it stems from a sense of entitlement, as well. I have a lot of faults, and I suppose I complain as much as the next person about being single (largely, to myself and God, but still), but I hope I don't fall victim to the fallacy that I OUGHT to be in a relationship or married, or that I am somehow owed that status and am in a disadvantaged group due to being unmarried. On the contrary, I make it a point to remind myself of the many blessings I enjoy that married (particularly married with children) people do not--and that my situation is a present moment willed especially for me by God. And so it is for anyone else: your present moment, whether you are married or single, may be a difficult one, but it is the place for you to find God's will. We need to encourage each other in that.

Lena said...

Even sometimes I get tired of hearing myself whine and complain about being single.

Miss Doyle said...

It's slightly off topic maybe, but I'm now a little more conscious of relating to my married friend with 3 very small children how incredibly amazing my life might be - usually when she's asked me how my overseas trip was etc.. etc...
It's not to prevent arousing jealousy in her (which isn't something I can control anyway) it's just being sensitive to how much she would want to hear before she's tempted to dump husband and children and come with me on my next trip!
Best rule I think is to talk less about self and ask more about the other person, although when you're both trying to do that at the same time the results are pretty funny.

MaryJane said...

Good call on the idea of selfishness. It's funny, because at the end of the day, it seems like the things that can annoy Marrieds about Singles and Singles about Marrieds are really the same: that is, "at least you have/ can do x" (husband/ travel the world), or "why was I not invited?" (to dinner/ girls' night) "well, your life should be like z" (romantic marriage/ adventurous volunteer work)... basically, everyone minding everyone else's business instead of sticking to their own.

I have personally found myself a lot happier when realizing that everyone has their own life (married OR single), and it's not my problem what they do with it. (In a nice way.)

sciencegirl said...

There are so many things my Church does for single/married/young people, but the Negative Nellies don't want to acknowledge that they count. It always cracks me up when someone says, "The Church isn't doing enough for the YOUTH!" They never mean the people in their parish, either, only the Official People. The second I feel lonely or frustrated, it's Monsignor Octegenarian's and the Parish Council's fault, and until rhey see to my special social needs, I will change nothing about my life to make myself happier.

I think that sentences starting out, "At least...." are dangerous!

I am baffled by the widespread rudeness over parties and invitations; has no one read "Sleeping Beauty?" The character who gets grumpy over not being invited is a bad lady! Furthermore, how are all these ladies finding out about parties/dinners to which they weren't invited? It is rather gauche and pitiful to complain of not getting an invitation. But worse, someone out there is being rude enough to speak of these parties in front of those who were not there. Don't do it! Before the party, don't ask all your acquaintance about it and whether they are going; they might not have been invited. Just respond to let the hostess know you are coming, and show up (or not, if you said you couldn't come).

There is a lovely young woman I know who frequently throws parties, inviting various combinations of her friends each time. Inevitably, everyone who knows her starts asking each other, "Did you get an invite to Veronica's latest party?Oh, don't feel bad, I didn't either." "Going to Veronica's this Friday?""Oh, I hadn't heard about it!" Note that these are GROWN men and women, not teenagers! Poor Veronica, trying to be social and entertain people in a community that talks way too much and never throws parties themselves.

Posting photos on Facebook for 100's of people to see, (and 5 to judge and bewail) is just asking for trouble. It is the same as talking about it in front of people who weren't there. There are other ways of getting photos out to the people who are actually in them.

sciencegirl said...

Hm, I just looked back at your list of Rude Things.

It seems there is a lot of "Don't boss/upbraid/gossip," on there!
Indeed, Upbraiding and Gossiping and Bossing about ANYTHING are liable to annoy people!

Meredith said...

I don't remember ever complaining about being single when I was single (most of my life - I will be married when I am 27, and only had one other romantic relationship), for two reasons: 1. I knew it was statistically unlikely that I would never marry, and 2. I didn't want any BAD KARMA after I did marry!

It is awfully self-destructive when singles get bitter and grouchy about seeing happy married couples - I mean, how are you going to enjoy a life that makes you sneer? (I'm not talking about feeling sad or even envious from time to time; it's the people who put on "anger goggles" that are sabotaging themselves.)

Every time I was tempted to pity myself for being "alone," I reflected that if I were married I would probably be mopping up after small children and complaining about "never being alone." Every way of life comes with tradeoffs. I saw the saddest imaginable blog thread the other day: all these stay-at-home moms were wailing that no one in their parish helps them, and several singles were keening that in *their parish* the families are royalty and they, the unmarried ones, are treated like servants. It was such a vortex of need and misery - caused, I think, by a lack of true friendship and true community.

Seraphic said...

That is very wise, Meredith. The key to happiness is getting the most out of your life NOW instead of worrying about what you are missing.

That sounds like an awful blog thread, I must say. All those sad people, possibly all blaming their parish priest, someone who would perhaps love to hire extra help and create extra programs, if only the sad people would actually put more than chump change in his collection basket.

Philippa Wade-Lehman said...


So I am/represent the 'single' you are referring to.

Thank you for confirming that 'married people' prefer to spend time with other married people.. None of my friends would ever actually admit that.

I have never whined and complained about being single although there have been times when I have been terribly disappointed and then angry at God that this is the life he chose for me... I have been working through these feelings and come to a wonderful place.

Over a year ago I began living and not waiting for marriage.

N Panchana quoted above 'On the trying-to-be charitable side' ... what????? Who is asking for charity here? The way everyone talks about 'singles' as well is extremely belittling.

Gosh why does it all need to be so difficult and complicated? Why can't single people and married people just remain friends? I continued to make the effort with all of my married friends but after 8 years of one sided effort I have decided to give up on those friendships.

That makes me sad but it was becoming unhealthy and self destructive with constant disappointment.

Anonymous said...

I found this posting bc I googled "Why Are Single Older Females So Annoying" and Google gave me two pages of articles written by single females complaining about people annoying THEM about their single status. @.@ This was the first article I found that talked about how single older women can be annoying.

I find it really hard to be around my single friends who are 30+ for several reasons. Firstly, they haven't gone through the humbling and changing of expectations that comes with getting married and learning to be happily married. The compromises, the reducing of ego, the enormous amounts of patience you earn the hard way. Instead, they're all brash corners that haven't been rubbed down yet.

Secondly, the older singles have often learned to fill the space that should be filled by a spouse, with friends. Meaning that they want me to do things for them or with them that I think should be reserved for your spouse. I don't like being asked by grown women to help them with their errands, bc I'm used to taking care of my own household and cherishing my free time to spend relaxing with friends. To me, that's like going back to college, when you did everything with your friends.

Lastly, I just find singles less interesting because they haven't changed significantly in 10+ years. As single people often complain, marriage changes people. Having kids changes you again. But the single people stay the same. Their mindset & viewpoint stay the same, how they react to situations stays the same...having matured past that stage, it gets really old to listen to. The ironic thing is that I'm self-conscious that they get tired of listening to me talk about my husband and baby. But I think that just goes to show that there's good reasons for single and married people to not spend too much time together.

My two cents!

P.S. - One other interesting thing~ every one of my single female friends over 30+ years of age, spent years living w/ at least one boyfriend whom she had no intention of marrying! In each case, the woman constantly said she wasn't going to marry her boyfriend, and broke up with him after anywhere from 1-3 years of living together. I have a lot of trouble feeling sympathy for single women who have "played house" with men they had no plans to marry!

Sadie said...

Lots of hatred for singel women here...

Seraphic said...

I spend hours six days of the week writing to and otherwise helping Single women, so no. Hopefully you'll click around the blog and see what it is about.

Bex2011 said...
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