Things People Don't Want to Hear from Their Single Friends
And why we say the things we say.
I’m sad.I’m lonely.I’m not depressed. Depression is medical; I’m just sad.
When someone in a committed long-term relationship says they are sad or lonely, it is their partner’s problem. The public perception is, if this person is sad, it is because their partner isn’t living up to their “end of the deal.” If this person is lonely, it is because their partner is working long hours or emotionally distant. But the perception of a single person who is sad and lonely is that they have put themselves in that position. They have chosen to be single (or choosey) and those choices have led to their unhappiness and loneliness. But sometimes it’s not that simple.
I want someone to tell me I’m beautiful (handsome/special).I want to be someone’s first thought in the morning and last thought before they sleep.I want to go on adventures with someone.I don’t want just anyone to be that someone.
When you’ve been on your own for an extended period of time, you naturally develop standards for the kinds of people you want to spend your time with. And for an intimate partner, those standards are even higher. And the longer you are on your own, the higher those standards become until being alone is far superior to “settling.”
I don’t want you to be that someone because I will never know if you are just saying things because I asked.
When Lucy tells Joe that she’s tired of being single and wishes she could find someone special, Joe — a man with primitive instincts to propagate the species and protect the females — spends a few seconds wondering why Lucy has never considered him as a potential partner. It may have nothing to do with Joe’s attraction to Lucy and everything to do with the fact that Joe is also single and sick of it. He tells Lucy that she’s lonely and he’s lonely, why don’t they go out sometime and try to make each other not lonely. But, referring back to the idea of standards, Joe is an amazing friend but isn’t what Lucy is looking for in an intimate partner. And now she is faced with the complication of telling him that without negatively affecting their friendship.
I know you’re here for me but friendship is not the same as romance.
At the same time, maybe, instead of suggesting they solve one another’s romantic struggles, Joe simply tells Lucy that he’s always “here if you need to talk.” Or maybe Jane tells her the same thing. “I’m here if you need anything.” And that, while comforting and helpful, isn’t what Lucy is trying to make her friends — single or coupled — understand.
I’m tired of being alone.I’ve been alone too long; I don’t know how not to be.
There is a paradox that comes from being single for an extended period of time. You grow so accustomed to your own company — and your own rules — that as badly as you want someone with whom to share your time, you are just as worried that you won’t know how to behave in this new situation. You’ve been on your own, doing your own thing, playing by your own rules, answering to no one, and finding an intimate partner who is willing to go along with that instead of trying to pin you down, becomes your top priority.
I don’t need anyone. I want someone. There is a difference.
Likewise, you’ve been on your own, playing by your own rules, keeping yourself company for long enough that you don’t need a companion. You have grown just as comfortable going to movies or concerts or restaurants by yourself as with a friend or a group. The upside to all of this is the person you finally choose to be your new intimate partner can rest assured that you have chosen them because you want them, not settled on them because you need them.
If I have to choose between settling on the wrong person and being on my own, I choose me. But I’m ready for someone else to choose me.
Sometimes, as a terminally single person who has been alone long enough to forget how to be with someone else, you don’t want to put in the effort to kiss the proverbial frogs in search of your prince/ss. You’d almost rather someone choose you.
The clincher of all of it is that people expect their single friends to be loving life, living in the moment, doing their own thing and having a blast at it. And in a lot of instances that is the case. But when we open up and share these less-than-pleasant truths with our friends, we are often blamed for being stubborn or picky and putting ourselves in the predicament we are in.
You can’t swing a cat in a high school or office building without hitting a motivational poster claiming we are the creators of our own happiness and if we are not happy, WE are doing something wrong. People don’t want to hear that we can be unhappy with a situation while having done nothing wrong to put ourselves there. Just because we are unhappy being single doesn’t mean the answer is signing up for every dating app and spending our nights enduring endless blind dates from well-meaning friends who aren’t privy to all of our ridiculous and unachievable standards. I didn’t choose to be terminally single but I am choosing to be single until I find the right partner.