We know you mean well, Coupled-Up Friends. You care about us, your Single Friends. You’re only trying to help! You have married-person wisdom to share!
We get it. You beat us in the very traditional game of life. Congrats on meeting society’s expectations of getting married by the accepted “deadline” (which differs wildly by region, religion and class, by the way).
And so, you say things you think might be helpful — but are actually hurtful — without asking what we might need or want. You dole out advice and diagnose what’s “wrong with us” when we’re just looking to vent. You find not-so-subtle ways to tell us that we, your wonderful single friends, matter a lot less in your lives now that you have a significant other and we do not.
I’m here for an intervention. Coupled-Up Friends: We need to talk about the way you talk to us, your Single Friends. Remember, the game of life is long. Treat us well and we’ll still be around if you get divorced and suddenly need our wisdom on how to be single. We have plenty of experience, after all. In the meantime, the next time you’re about utter any of these phrases, take a breath, think about how it might land. And then maybe say something else instead.
Are you still single?
The offensive word here is “still,” as if singlehood is a condition your friends are stuck with and can’t quite shake. How would you like it if we asked you: “Hey, are you still married?” Instead, you might try the less judgmental and perfectly benign: “Are you seeing anyone right now?”
Let’s hang out next week. My spouse is out of town.
Partnered people love this one! And the rest of us? It really gets under our skin when you state that you’ll make us a priority only when your More Important Person is out of town. After all, we make plans with you without first checking whether our cooler friends might be free that night. It is possible to make plans with a friend without mentioning what’s on your significant other’s Google calendar. And please, not another “ladies night.”
We should hang out! My girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse has a friend in your area, so we should be out that way.
Translation: You don’t like us enough to make an effort to see us. Any effort at all. Seeing us is like an errand you might do on your way to more important things.
Sorry we didn’t invite you to [fill-in-the-blank event]. Everyone else who’s coming is in a relationship. We didn’t want you to be uncomfortable.
You know what’s uncomfortable? Finding out that all our friends were hanging out without us! Your single friends are worthy of invitations whether or not they have a plus-one. Let us decide whether we want to attend solo rather than making that decision for us.
You’re so great. I just don’t get it.
Funny, neither do we! Some of us are single because — gasp! — we want to be. Or because it’s our best option at the moment.
Love and sex news: in pictures
Love and sex news: in pictures
1/18 Top strain on relationships in the UK revealed
Finding a partner who has similar attitudes to you, when it comes to money, could be more likely to guarantee you a successful, harmonious relationship. The main strain on UK relationships is money worries, according to new research, and the key to avoiding money ruining a relationship is to align how you deal with your finances. Concerns about finances make up 26 per cent of relationship difficulties, according to new research from relationship charities Relate, Relationships Scotland and Marriage Care who surveyed over 5,000 people in the UK
2/18 Cheaters are likely to be unfaithful to their partners multiple times
Research by UCL suggests why serial cheaters repeatedly lie to their partners and commit adultery. According to the study, it’s because with every lie a person tells, they feel less bad about doing so afterwards
3/18 Timetable of Love
A new study has revealed that Sunday at 9am is the most popular time of the week for Brits to get busy in the bedroom. Our weekends tend to be a lot sexier than our weekdays, with three of the top five most common times for sex falling on a Saturday, at 11.30am, 10.30pm and 11.30pm
4/18 Spain appoints 'sex tsar'
Spain has appointed a ‘sex tsar’ to encourage the declining population to ramp up procreation in a bid to reverse a dip in the birth rate. The country reported a higher number of deaths than births for the first time last year, prompting the government to take action
5/18 A new dating show for Trump supporters
Across the pond, there’s a new TV dating show in the pipeline: one inspired by President Donald Trump. The dating site - whose tagline is ‘Making dating great again’ - launched in May 2016 and now has over 37,500 active users
6/18 How to spot when your partner is hiding their true feelings
How often do you and your partner actually spot when one of you is hiding your emotions? According to a new study, it’s probably not as frequently as you think. New research suggests that people miss cues that their partner may be suppressing negative feelings because we see our other-halves in a more positive light
7/18 Online dating risk
A new report by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has found that last year, singles were conned out of £39 million by fraudsters they’d met on dating sites and apps. Con artists are increasingly creating fake online profiles and tricking people on dating sites into handing over often large sums of money.
8/18 Singletons judge potential partners on their phones, says new study
A new study has found that women are 92 per cent more likely than men to judge a potential partner negatively for having an older phone model.
9/18 Mother's blood pressure before conception could influence sex of child, study suggests
Pregnant woman measures the blood pressure with automatic sphygmomanometer.
10/18 Sainsbury’s sells same sex valentine’s day cards for first time
For the first time, Sainsbury’s is selling a range of Valentine’s Day cards that represent same-sex couples. The simple designs feature illustrations of a woman and a woman, and a man and a man, with the caption ‘You + Me.’
11/18 Couples oversharing on social media do so to mask relationship insecurities, expert suggests
Couple sitting on couch with their phones in their hand
12/18 Injection of ‘romantic’ hormone could help treat psychosexual problems
13/18 One in ten British women experience pain during
14/18 Watching porn does not cause negative attitudes to women
The average porn user may have more egalitarian views towards women than non-users, a contentious new study has suggested. Researchers at Western University in Canada have even argued that many pornography fans might be “useful allies” in women’s struggles for equality in the workplace and in public office. They reported in the Journal of Sex Research that the 23 per cent of people who said they had watched an “X-rated” film during the previous year were no more or less likely to identify as feminists than those who did not watch porn.
15/18 Erectile dysfunction 'linked to risk of early death'
Men who suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) are 70 per cent more likely to die early, a new study has found. US scientists believe that the disorder may be linked to poor cardiovascular health, and suggested that men with ED should be screened for health issues that could cut their lives short
16/18 The characteristics of men who pay for sex
Men who pay for sex share similar traits to rapists and sex offenders, according to new research. A study from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), claims that men who have sex with female sex workers feel less empathy for them than men who do not buy sex. Part of this reason is due to the fact that they view them as "intrinsically different from other women,” according to the authors.
17/18 Heartbreak can actually change the rhythm of your heart
Losing a loved one really can break your heart, research suggests, although not for ever. People who lose a partner are at an increased risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for the next 12 months, scientists found. The risk seems to be greatest among the under 60s and when the loss of the partner was least expected
18/18 'Weird' sexual fetishes are actually very normal
A number of sexual fetishes considered anomalous in psychiatry are actually common in the general population, a study has found. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), sexual interests fall into two categories: normal (normophilic) and anomalous (paraphilic). Researchers asked 1,040 Quebec residents, representative of the general population, about their experiences of sexual behaviour considered abnormal by the DSM-5. The study, published in The Journal of Sex Research, found that of the eight types of anomalous behaviour listed in the DSM-5, four were found to be neither rare or unusual among the experiences and desires reported by men and women
Have you tried [this hot new dating app]? My friend met her boy/girlfriend on it.
Of course we have. But thanks for rubbing in that it works for someone else and thus we must be doing something wrong. Which brings me to …
“You know what your problem is …”
Ah, how we love sentences that start this way! This preamble has many an ending: You’re too picky; you’re too desperate; you’re too shy; you’re too aggressive; you have to put yourself out there; you’re in the wrong city; you work too much; and so on into the horizon of judgmental phrases.
Coupled-Up Friends: If your single friends have been dating and having trouble finding someone worth keeping around — which is normal! Dating is hard! — we’ve already spent too much time wondering what might be wrong with us or what we might be doing wrong. Unless it’s a persistent BO problem we’re oblivious to, please resist the urge to diagnose why your friends are single. We probably didn’t ask for your opinion, anyway.
You’ll find love when you stop looking. (Or when you least expect it.)
The smuggest of smug marrieds love this one. This comment is like asking your single friends: Why are you trying so hard? No, wait: Why are you trying at all? Love will hit you on the head while picking out a cantaloupe at the grocery store.
The not-trying tack might work when you’re in college and surrounded by young single people; but in your 30s and beyond, meeting people requires effort. In a similar category…
You need to love yourself first.
Yes, self-esteem is important. Everyone should love themselves, regardless of relationship status! But saying this to a single friend only telegraphs that you think we have low self-esteem. Ergo, we need to fix that — ahem, we need to fix ourselves — before someone will love us. Guess what: Self-improvement, personal development and self-love happen over a lifetime — and ideally continue even after we get into a relationship.
I wish I knew someone to set you up with.
If your friend is looking for a partner and you know of someone who might be a good match, great! Go ahead and ask if we’re game for a setup. But if no one springs to mind, why mention that you know absolutely no one who’s worthy of an introduction? “I’ll keep my eyes out” is a fine alternative.
I’m so jealous that you’re single. You get to make all your own plans!
No, you’re not. If you were, you would choose to be single, too.
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