I was at a women’s event at church when it happened.
Sitting at a round table topped with a crisp white tablecloth and spring flowers, the women around me were making small talk as we sipped tea and nibbled on scones. Actually, the other ladies were nibbling. I downed two scones in the first five minutes of sitting down, but let’s not split hairs.
As I was brushing crumbs from my chin, the middle-aged woman next to me asked mildly, “So, are you married? Do you have children?”
“No, I’m single. No kids.” I replied.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Do you want to be married?”
“Yeah, I’ve always wanted to be married.”
“Well, you hang in there. Sometimes it takes a while. I didn’t marry my husband until I was 25.”
My 38-year-old self stared at her blankly, wondering if she was trying to be funny.
This woman apparently thought 25 was pushing spinsterhood. Thank goodness her husband rescued her before she hit 26, accumulated 12 cats, and retreated to her apartment to die—alone and unwanted.
If you’re a single woman, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of awkward, flippant, misguided, and even downright hurtful comments about your single status. If you’re not single, maybe you’ve been guilty of dishing out such comments. Or maybe you’re so afraid of saying something wrong that you choose to say nothing at all.
Don’t despair. Sometimes we single women can be too sensitive about our singleness. And, almost always, even the worst comments are made with good intentions. That said, here are a few of the “repeat offenders”—statements that tend to do more harm than good and are better avoided altogether in conversation with us singletons.1