Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

To the Ones We Love

on November 21, 2014
To Loved Ones -  Serge Bertasius Photography

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography/

With the holiday season upon us, I thought now would be a good time to speak to those in our family who might not be aware of the negative impact they can have, intentionally or not, on the single heart.

A meme starting floating around on Facebook this week stating, “Best of luck explaining why you’re still single at Thanksgiving and Charles Manson isn’t.”

Yes, it’s true: we heard in the “news” this week that the 80-year-old psychotic killer had announced his engagement to a 26-year-old painter. I have no idea why this woman wants to marry him, unless it’s to make money. But I do know I feel pity and horror, not jealousy. So I don’t have to explain anything.

Still, it reminded me how hard the holidays can be for anyone who’s confronted by the “why-are-you-still-single” tactics of well-meaning relatives. In fact, I’ve devoted a chapter of my upcoming nonfiction book, Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40, to our married friends on this very topic. Here’s an excerpt:

A few years ago, one of my friends lost her mother to a brain tumor. At the funeral, in the midst of her grief, a woman approached my friend and said, “It’s just so sad you never married. I know that’s something she always wanted for you.”

This is the kind of thing no one needs to tell us. We don’t need to hear we’re getting past our prime or a good man is hard to find or we’re breaking our mother’s heart by remaining single.

We know you love us and we choose to believe you want to encourage and support us in our singleness. That’s why I’m pointing these things out.

So, here are a few suggestions for how to show love to the single members of your family:

  • Don’t tiptoe around us like we’re fragile children. Treat us like adults who can figure things out and work through them. Singleness does not equal immaturity.
  • Don’t claim you know there’s someone out there for us. That leads to false hope. The only one who knows if that’s true is God.
  • Please don’t repeat clichés about singleness. We’ve heard them all and have already decided how we feel about each one.
  • Do let us be sad and offer a shoulder to cry on.
  • Do tell us about great single men you know. We realize it’s one of the best ways to meet new guys. Most of us are open to being set up with a good man, as long as you let us know ahead of time. Surprise blind dates are, more often than not, awkward for everyone. Just make sure—I implore you—that he is a good man.
  • Do encourage us to hope but not to obsess; help us through heartbreak and over bad days.
  • Do pray for us.

For our single readers: Do you have anything you want your family to know about singleness as we head into the holiday season?


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