Although they're a rare breed, single adults do still exist in our world. You may see them in supermarkets filling their plastic baskets with things like those mini pans of Mrs. Stouffer's lasagna and clear produce bags holding a single apple.
Often marginalized by a society which seems to assume that singles, by default, wish to connect only with other singles--as if marital status rather than phases of life and shared interests were the only elements which foster friendships--these singles could become some of the best friends you've ever known.
If only you knew how to talk to them.
Having already addressed singles directly through How to Succeed at Being Single, today I would like to drop a knowledge bomb on the rest of the population.
You're welcome in advance.
How to Talk to Single People:
1. Ask them why they're still not married. They love this. Since it's probably the question they're most often asked, they're skilled at responding and have several ready answers at their disposal. On good days, they'll use the conversation to advocate for singleness, citing Scriptural references to back singleness as a legitimate way to honor God and demonstrate the sufficiency of Christ. On bad days, they'll smile tightly and change the subject so as not to let on that they're annoyed with you for feeling that you have the right to ask such intimate questions right away.
Personally, I think it would be fun to change it up by bursting into tears and wailing, "Because nobody ever asked me, OKAY!? Are you HAPPY NOW?! Is that what you wanted to hear?!" But that just seems mean. Then again, they did ask, so they should be prepared for the consequences.
2. Ask them if they ever want to get married. This is a fun way to figure out if the person in question is a Happy Single or a Sad Single. It's not too difficult to tell the difference between the two. The Happy Singles will delve into the pros and cons of single life vs. married life and will most likely make you jealous when you hear how much free time they have. The Sad Singles will start to cry.
But that's just a risk you'll have to take.
3. Ask them if they ever plan to get married. This is on par with how I generally ask married people if they ever plan to get divorced. So it's cool, right?
4. Tell them whom they should be dating. Again, they love this! If the single person in question is an old college friend, I recommend elbowing him in the ribs and wiggling your eyebrows while reminding him which mutual acquaintance is still on the market. If the mutual acquaintance in question happens to be present when you do this, so much the better! This is a great move, because there's literally no way that this will make any member of the equation feel awkward.
If the single people in question are unknown to one another, set up their meeting in such a way that it will be as high-stakes and fraught with tension as possible. Make sure they're aware of how much you've emotionally invested in their getting together. Forget just making a casual introduction and stepping back to watch what happens. That would never work. Instead, do all you can to ensure that they realize your belief that their destiny is written in the stars.
After all, these people haven't stayed single this long by accident: they must need all the outside help they can get!
* * * *
Okay, okay. I'll admit it. These are all really terrible ideas.
But knowing that they're terrible ideas hasn't stopped some of you from putting them into practice, hmmm?
If you find that you've been guilty of any of the above tactics, don't worry: the single people in your life have probably already forgiven you.
After all, I've forgiven my older brother for all of these, including--just last week--yet another infraction involving #4. (That's right, doofus. I know all about it.)
The truth is that if you want to be friends with single people -- and you should -- then you need to talk to them like you would to anybody else.
Invite them out to lunch with you and your family. Make sure they feel comfortable just coming over to have a coffee and hang out. Don't assume that they'll be put off by the fact that your schedule is more complicated or that you have kids in the house. Just spend time with them. They could always benefit from more community, and you most likely could benefit from having a friend who can drop everything and rush over without having to find a babysitter first.
And leave the personal questions for when you've gotten to know them better.
Unless, of course, you want them turning those questions around on you.
In that case, I say go for it.