When a close friend of mine had a baby, I did my research. I didn't want to be a "baby holder" that annoyingly came by to visit. I learned you should help in some way. Bring food, do dishes, watch the baby while Mom runs an errand. Anything.
The point was, I didn't know how to be a good friend to her, so I learned. Today I'm applying the same principle to single 30-somethings, or what I wish others would do for me.
I love my friends (both close and casual), very much, but they've never stood in my shoes, and that unfamiliarity, while not their fault, can cause some cringe-worthy moments. Perhaps you're familiar.
1) "But you're SO pretty! I can't believe you don't have a boyfriend."
Honestly what am I supposed to do with this information? If being pretty is the key to finding true love, and yet I am pretty and haven't, logic would suggest I am permanently screwed. Did you find your boyfriend because you're a knockout? Or rather because you met someone you connected with? Just a thought.
The real reason I don't have a boyfriend? I just don't have one. There's no certain cause flashing red lights in my face. It just hasn't happened yet. Also "yet" is a weird word, because I don't feel too old/jaded/anything. I feel in-place, and I hope others see me that way, too.
2) "Want me to fix you up with the one single guy I know?"
Truly, honestly, not-being-sarcastic-at-all, this warms my heart. I love that people who care about me want to see me in a relationship that brings me joy. The thought is there and it is so kind. That being said, there is more, much more, to the matchmaking arts than simply connecting two humans you know because they're both single and of the same sexual orientation. A similar sense of humor perhaps? A shared interest or two? Anything, anything other than the simple fact that he's single. Otherwise I feel you're throwing me scraps out of pity, and it kinda hurts.
Not all "fix ups" are bad, in fact I love doling them out as often as possible, but it's tricky, and hard to pull off successfully. A better plan? "Hey, Shani, the hubby and I are going out with a few friends Friday night. Wanna come?"
If there happens to be a single pal of yours there, faboosh! He and I can figure out on our own if we click, if we're just pals, or if we hate each other with the fire of 1,000 suns. Wish us luck. No single friends to introduce me to? That's okay! I'm still thrilled you (and your partner) want to hang out.
3) "Oh, sorry. Dinner is just couples tonight."
Pardon me while I go find a Band-Aid for my soul.
4) "I remember being single. When I was 25."
Single in your 20s cannot be compared to single in your 30s. They are different beasts, for so many reasons, but the one I'll focus on here (I'll probably hit others in future posts, don't fret), is the fact that when I was single and 25, I had lots of single and 25 friends, too. The pool of single friendship shrank drastically after that, so when you're 31 and feel alone, it's on two levels: friends and lovers. You don't know what it's like, but thank you for trying to find common ground with me. On the flipside, I don't know what it's like to be 30-something and married, so we both have lots to teach each other.
5) Generic & Unsolicited Dating Advice.
I have no idea why, but in the last couple of years, my singleness has invited unsolicited worry. It's so strange. Everyone simply assumes that I'm doing something wrong, or that there's something wrong with me. I'm OK, guys, really!
As my friends (and sometimes my family -- hi guys!), I trust you. If I need advice, you are the first people I'll come to, and I can't wait to hear what you have to say. But if I don't ask, I'm doing just fine. Hearing advice from multiple angles, without asking for it, makes me feel like you think there's something wrong with me. Do you?
6) "Have you tried online dating?"
GIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL, who you talkin' to?
7) "Are you seeing anybody?"
And here's why I hate this one. You're asking me about my love life. I'm SO not asking about yours. What if I started a conversation with, "How happy is your marriage these days?" Awkward. There is more to me than my singleness, and far more to talk about. Let's start there.
My job is pretty cool, wanna talk about it? I have an awesome hobby writing for xoJane these days, want me to tell you about it? I'm obsessed with Momofuku Noodle bar, wanna go? Have you traveled anywhere cool lately? I have! Blah, blah, blah and so on. I am me more than I am single.
8) "OMG I'm SO excited to be single now! Let's go out!"
My dearest, newly single friends, welcome. I'm happy to have you, and I'm sure you'll navigate these waters just fine. But you just arrived in this theme park. I've been on the same ride for years. I am not your tour guide/wingman/nurse through your new foray into freedom. My singlehood is not a toy for you to play with.
Also, could we not go out when you were wifed-up? Why is it now more okay than it was before? Why am I in a different bucket than your couple-y friends? I don't appreciate 2nd class friend status, all the more reason I'll likely shut you down when you come to me in wild-child party mode. I will however help you move out, change your locks, or find a new apartment. What are friends for?
9) "Guys are SO stupid"
They're really not. They're fantastic. Men are fantastic. Some are smart, some are funny, some are incredibly kind. They're all the awesome things that women are, but they're men. They have man arms. I want one. Just because they don't fall at my feet doesn't make them stupid, it just makes them uninterested in me, and those things are highly unrelated to one another.
A better approach? "I know you'll find what you're looking for." A little confidence, a little belief in me, and a little hope for my future. I have those things, I hope you have them, too.
10) "Want me to hire you a matchmaker?"
I love you Mom.