“What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine, fine, fine
‘Cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five”
-Alanis Morissette, “Hand In My Pocket,” 1995
After describing at some length a list of phrases and questions that should no longer be said to single women in 2019, I realize I’ve kind of left us hanging, haven’t I? How rude. I should complete the lecture and offer a list of things you absolutely can and should say to single women at your leisure and convenience. It’s only fair.
When you’re single, you hear things you don’t want to hear all the time. If I get one more “ So, are you seeeeing anybodyyyyy?” I’ll likely cry into my cabernet. Not because I’m sad, mind you, but more because I’m disappointed in how unoriginal that question is. But I understand that most people are probably not trying to offend or annoy me. They’re just trying to make casual conversation and engage in societal niceties. But there are overlooked social niceties that I wish single women heard more often.
It really hard to understand a void of something if you’ve never been made aware that that void exists. For example, if you’re in your 30s and you’ve been partnered since your twenties, greetings! My name is Shani and I am coming to you live from the void with a bunch of things I never hear that I wish I heard all the time.
I could paint this with a broad stroke and say it applies to everything from casual dinner catch-ups to weekend getaways, but really what I’m talking about are gatherings of people who are coupled or have kids. And I don’t care how angry this makes the commenter who won’t stop going on about my dusty appliances. I am targeting the fun, buoyant gatherings of families I’m never invited to because I don’t have a family and why would a woman without kids want to attend a “kid” event? It couldn’t be that a group of people she likes are having fun and she’s not, heavens no.
People in couples invite other people in couples to do stuff. People with kids invite other people with kids to do stuff. Single people don’t get invited to either kind of stuff. I mention this not out of spite, but out of longing. I have Instagram. I see.
Single people don’t get invited to either kind of stuff. I mention this not out of spite, but out of longing. I have Instagram. I see.
Dinner tables can have odd numbers. I don’t mind if the diner next to me is wearing a bib and there is no lobster present. What I mind is feeling like I don’t belong, because I don’t have a partner or a child.
Yes, please continue to make all sorts of plans with your single friends, in groups or otherwise. If you are single, please continue to make plans with your single friends who understand your perspective because they’re living it, too. But if you are not single, please start inviting your single friends to the events you never do. The events where they never pop into your mind—and know that it’s okay that they didn’t pop into your mind before. We’re all just doing our best out here.
I like the park. I like picnics. I like kid-friendly beer halls where dads wear their children like binoculars. But more than anything I like you, I like your kids, and I think single people can and should hang with coupled people and their tiny, squirmy people all the time. My friend Anna once invited me to hang out at the local swingset with her and her kid and it was the best invitation I’ve ever received. Be someone’s Anna.
How are you feeling?
Being sick sucks. Being sick while single suuuuuuuucks. In general feeling like nobody cares if you’re okay sucks, too. Check in on your single friends when they’re sick, or when they’re having a hard time. You don’t have to go over there and expose yourself to infectants, just a text to say, “hey, you feeling any better?” will do fine. We are asked how we are less often than people who are partnered, it’s just the nature of things — there are simply fewer people present in our apartments. We still enjoy being present on the “give a shit” lists of others.
This is a neat one. For all adults, celebrations of awesome stuff that’s happened to us really dwindle after graduation. If you don’t get engaged, get married, get pregnant, or somehow have a baby, that number is even fewer. And while I don’t think that each of us needs to be constantly celebrated, once in awhile might be nice.
We need not invent stuff to celebrate, I don’t think that’s my point. While it might feel like a personal accomplishment that I made it to Friday without frisbee’ing my laptop out of my apartment window, I don’t think that’s something we should order a cake for. Or is it?
Single adults don’t find themselves at the center of celebrations… kind of ever. But we find ourselves at the center of other people’s celebrations pretty much always. I certainly don’t want fewer wonderful things to happen to my friends and family, I just often wonder if we mightn’t balance thing out a bit? Otherwise you’ll be able to see the fireworks from my 40th birthday extravaganza from space, just sayin.’
If something good happens to a single you love, be it a promotion, a new apartment, Thursday, anything — congratulate them.
If something good happens to a single you love, be it a promotion, a new apartment, Thursday, anything — congratulate them. Celebrate that person for a moment and make them feel special. There’s literally no downside to it.
You’re Doing A Great Job
Three days ago my friend Savaria said this to me and dammit if I didn’t almost fall out of my chair. I think this applies to all of us, single or otherwise, but as a woman who’s been single since the iPhone 3G, I can tell you that praise of this kind is a rarity outside of the workplace — and it really shouldn’t be. Why should our work efforts be praised and our personal life efforts be seen as supposed-tos? Tell the friend who just Kondo’d her kitchen or the cousin who hit a SoulCycle milestone (I don’t know what they’re called) that she’s doing a great job. Because she is.
If you’re a not-single person reading this, you likely know and love a single person or two and would never, [extreme Outkast voice] ever ever want them to feel left out, unwanted, or forgotten. And know that I present these conversational suggestions not as a scold, just as a reminder. That void I mentioned? If you’re not in it, you forget about it, real quick.
And these reminders apply to us singles, too — I will never skip an opportunity to assemble my own team of Avengers. Check in on your friends, ladies! Make plans with them, remind yourselves that you exist in each other’s thoughts — and that those thoughts involve more than just wondering whether or not we’re seeing anybody.
I think the running theme across everything I wish people of all relationship statuses said to each other more often are reminders that they matter to someone. Single people don’t hear these reminders nearly as often as we hear “how’s dating going?” and that’s fucking gross.
Your phone is currently sitting where you can see it. It might even be in your hand right now. You are thumbs away from making someone, anyone feel great because you’re thinking of them. I’ve done my best to share knowledge on what can and cannot be said to my single sistren. If it’s tough to remember or you get flustered by work or the next Democrat to announce a Presidential candidacy, remember, it’s easy: just start with “hi.”
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Source: Refinery29 – Shani Silver