Monday, March 3, 2014

Eight Helpful Comebacks for the "Why Are You Still Single?" Question

If you're an unmarried Christian person past your twenties, you are going to be asked why you're still single.

You are going to be asked this a lot.

That's because everyone knows that Christians are supposed to line up two-by-two like animals on the ark, and woe betide anyone caught without a partner. The wrongness of the single state is so obvious that I don't need to convince you. It's fundamental. So fundamental, in fact, that your single state entitles new acquaintances to ask you deeply personal questions right off the bat. Which is only fair, because there's obviously something inherently wrong with you. 

You then face the challenge of answering a complicated question in a thirty-second sound bite. To be honest, that's hard to do without seeming flippant. 

Every once in a while, I'd like to trot out some of these responses just for fun.


Eight Helpful Comebacks for the "Why Are You Still Single?" Question:
  1. "Because nobody ever asked me, okay!? Are you happy now?! Is that what you wanted to hear?!" Then run away crying. This descent into melodrama does seem a bit unfair, but such a response could possibly break the cycle of people asking this question as if there's a pat response. 
  2. "I'm still single?!" Furrow your brow, tilt your head to the side, and blink a lot. Seem genuinely shocked. Then wander away, muttering. 
  3. "I. Don't. Know." Stare at the questioner with huge pop eyes. Do not break eye contact until the other person speaks.
  4. “Oh, I don't know... Why are you still married?” Lol. 
  5. "That's a good question." This is what I said in the classroom when students asked me questions that I didn't know how to answer. I would then change the subject, and I suggest that you do the same.
  6. "What do you think?" Turning the question around is another helpful teaching tactic, but I suggest that you only ask this one if you are very brave or have a bullet-proof self-esteem.
  7. “The love of my life dumped me when I was nineteen and broke my heart and I have never recovered from the pain... but thanks for asking.” Look off into the middle distance. Allow your eyes to well with tears. Allow the silence stretch forever.
  8. "I have a deep, well-hidden flaw that you have overlooked but that is obvious to anybody who gets close to me." This is a pleasing response because it will confirm their secret suspicions. 

The truth is that I actually don't mind when people ask me why I'm still single. I know that as a general rule, people ask because they genuinely care or are legitimately curious. 

I just don't know how to answer them. 

What I usually wind up doing is deflecting the question by launching into some quirky stories about the times I've been hit on by strangers and it's been creepy, awkward, outlandish, or some delightful combination of the three. These stories serve as subtle reminders that I'm not single because I'm undesirable or or because I've never had any options. I'm single because of the choices I've made with the options I've been given. 

This isn't my pride speaking (at least, I don't think it is) but a genuine desire to help people see singleness as a viable way to live a happy, fulfilling life that glorifies God. Perhaps if more Christians lived singleness to advantage, it would be seen as more than "pre-marriage" or as the consequence of questionable choices or the default setting of losers. 

Why am I still single?

Because I just am.

And that's okay. 



5 comments:

  1. Eons ago, I always interpreted that question as, "What is secretly wrong with you?" Evidently, there had to be some hidden defect if someone nice, intelligent, attractive, or passingly normal wasn't married once her teen years had passed her by. Actually, the nicer, more intelligent, and more attractive a person is, the smaller the eligible pool becomes. Perhaps you should add another response to your repertoire: I haven't found anyone worthy. Singleness is far superior to settling.

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    1. I got asked by a woman once and replied with a very it-should-be-obvious toned: "Because there aren't any women worth marrying." I wish I could have taken a photo of her reaction!

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    2. Yes, there's an element of truth in that, Joanne!

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  2. I've prepared similar answers for when people inevitably ask about my extra-tall baby, "Isn't he too old to still be [nursing/co-sleeping/rear-facing carseat/fill in the blank]?"

    I will smile widely and reply, "Aren't you too old to be asking such personal questions?" And then walk away.

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    1. Yeah, my married and parenting friends have told me some of the ridiculous questions that people ask them as well. I guess no matter what you're state, you're not exempt from thoughtless questions. :)

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