My Beef With Married People #SingleWithLeah

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A few months back I found myself listening in on a conversation with a married woman and a single woman. The single woman was talking about how she is doing everything right, loves God and is ready for her husband, actively looking for him. Relatable, right? Definitely.

The married person responded with something that made me cringe more than everything that comes out of Donald Trumps mouth. She said, Youre a woman. You shouldnt be looking. As soon as you stop looking, hell come!

I wanted to die. I literally wanted to dig a hole in the frozen earth, crawl in it and cover myself with the dirt, never having to have another conversation about singleness with a married person again.

Theres a few reasons that I despise this. For some reason, women are made to feel shame about actively looking for a man. I dont get whats so wrong with that. YOU BETTER BELIEVE that if I spot a fly homie at Target I am going to make up an excuse to go into the automotive aisle. Do you know where the oil is? Could you help me?Classic move. Youre welcome.

The second reason why I hate this response is simple: It makes no sense. For me, this response is exactly the same as when you lose something and somebody asks you where you left it. Uhhhh, if I knew that, it wouldnt be lost. Its so dumb.

Third, I feel like this is a lazy response. When I hear people say this, I always have one thought: You suck at advice giving. You look for the easy answer. You arent interested in giving honest, real advice. What would I have said to this woman? I would have said what I wish people would say to me:

You know what, sometimes it sucks being single. Its hard when people around you who arent as cool and wonderful as you are pulling hot, smart, successful guys. It makes you feel like poop. Actual poop. But you have to change your thinking.

The reason that you didnt snag that guy is because he wasnt your guy. Do you want to be with a guy that is all wrong for you? Probz not. So go live your life, because the right guy- the guy that you want- will see you doing that and will love that about you.

Unfortunately, nobody asked me and this girl was left feeling like she was doing something wrong. So yeah, random stranger, if youre reading this, thats my answer.

So what is my beef with married people? Am I jealous? No, not really. I mean I wish having sex whenever I wanted was on my menu, but some days Id also be like, Not tonight. Downton Abbey is on.

Is it that I find that theyre eternally happy and I want that happiness in my life? Not exactly. I mean, I want a husband, yeah, but I would say that I make myself pretty happy. I really enjoy being all that is Leah Barterian.

So what is it? In a paragraph, its that many people take their experiences and make them facts. Its that they create these steps to success, success being marriage, and make singles feel like we have to follow their guide. Its that when we follow their guide and dont get the same results, we feel like failures.

Why is it, when people get married, they forget the struggle of being single?

In my experiences, Ive had a ton of married people give me a step-by-step process on how to get married. Ive had countless marriedsallude to the fact that I am not doing life correctly. Because, well, if I were, Id be married.

Can we step outside of ourselves and see how degrading this is? I mean even if they didnt mean it like that, do you see how depressed this can make someone? Theres no easy fix for this feeling, so Im going to address both sides right now.

If youre married:

We are happy that youre happy, but there is no book or article or rule that states that we might not also be happy unmarried. Just because youve reached a level of happiness with marriage, doesnt mean that we havent reached that same level with something else, like, I dont know, nachos.

Happiness is available through so many different avenues. We want to celebrate your marriage with you, be excited with you as you hit new milestones, and rejoice with you in those over-the-moon moments that you experience while married, but we dont want you to follow up the celebration with, One day this will happen for you, too. Dont worry.The only thing that thats telling us is, One day youll be as happy as I am.” 

Overall, married people, remember that just because were in a different place in life than you are doesnt mean that were not in a good place. It just means that were not in your place.

If youre single:

If you are single and constantly are being approached about a happier life,you might wanna take a hard look at yourself. Does your latest Facebook status come accompanied with Bon Iver and rain sounds in the background? In the past week have you said something like, Ill be alone foreverand it wasnt PMS induced? Do you find yourself with more than 4 cats? If so, you might be giving off what I call the SSV.

What is SSV? SSV is short for Sad Single Vibe, and some of you have itbad. You wonder why people keep trying to give you steps on how to be happy? Maybe its because you look like youre 12 seconds away from an untimely death. Maybe its because youre 50 shades of crabby all the time and people are desperate to get you a good makeup session. Whatever the reason, sometimes we need to look at the vibe that were giving off to get a good reason of why people are reacting to us the way that they are.

Want to be happy? Go find something that you love. Want people to leave you alone and stop butting into your life? Become active. Surround yourself with the life that you lovethe life that you want to live. Get off the couch and get a hobby (Netflix and chill isnt a hobby).

Take some responsibility for your singleness- be a person that you would want to date! Wondering why you never get dates? Maybe youre acting super lame. Fix that.

For all of you:

Wherever you fall in life, theres one important thing to remember: Theres no cut and dry definition of happiness. You decide how happy and content you are. Every emotion, every feeling, and every response is up to you.

While youre searching for the elusive happiness that comes with marriage, you are missing things that could enrich your life. Youre missing out on your best life by trying to live somebody elses life. You were not made to imitate.

Create the life that you want. And use that pickup line in the automotive aisle. Works every time.

leah

Leah Barterian works as the Youth Program Director at Grace Christian Church in Metro Detroit, Michigan. She is extremely passionate about singleness, Red Wings hockey, social equality, and late-night snacking. She loves baked cheetos, puppies, and laughing at videos where people slip on the ice. She inexplicably hates black beans and humidity. Follow Leah on Twitter and Instagram @Leahbarterian. Explore Leah’s blog HERE.

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30 Comments

  • My personal advice is always to have lots of friends. That’s where you learn all the relationship skills that count, and you never know, you might end up discovering you love one of them.

    • My mom would have been thrilled if I ended up loving any of my best friends. Unfortunately for her, it was all platonic. But that advice is great. Friendships are awesome for breakups, too. It’s nice to have those people to carry you through things. Thanks for reading and for the support!

  • I have a single guy friend who we’ll just call “Rob”. He is really hurting and hating on life right now. He was in a long term relationship that ended badly! The woman he proposed to cheated on him, repeatedly, he hasn’t fully recovered. I tried pointing out that if he would have stayed, he may have got an STD or worse could have happened. He wants to be married and settled down. I told him he should keep looking and just be his funny self..I don’t know if it’s good advice or not that I’m giving him, the only thing I can think to do, is pray and be supportive. I actually LOVED being single..I didn’t need to share the bed or clean facial hair off the sink! I could investigate different points of view without a peanut gallery tisk tisking my every move…however, loving single life as I did..actually helped me know what I want and don’t want..and I’ve gotta say, being with my Bill is like being totally infused as one being and not many people get to feel love on that kind of level! As a not single woman anymore, I can really appreciate how you are helping other single people 🙂

    • Thank you, Julie! I agree, I feel for Rob. It’s so hard to know what to say in those situations. Many times I find myself saying nothing at all and just sitting in a place of comfort and understanding. Or, I feed people. Providing food is my love language. I cannot wait to have a husband and to do all of the things that I do now with him. Being single has taught me so much about who I am and what I want, and even at times more importantly, what I don’t want.

      The advice that I always give people after a breakup is this: make a list. What was good about them? What was bad about them? With each ended relationship, I was so much closer to being united with that right guy. I mean, yeah, when it’s over it really sucks and you don’t want to hear that, but I always try to come away with a positive in the sense that I now know something that I definitely need and something that I definitely can’t have.

      For instance, I dated a guy for a little bit a few months back, and he didn’t like sports. I’m a sports nut, and I didn’t think that would be a big deal, but after it ended I realized how much it bothered me. So now I know, I need someone who likes sports! The relationship ending was a bummer, but it also helped me define the perfect mate for me.

      I’ll be praying for Rob! I’m sure he’s so appreciative of your support and love! Thanks for reading!

  • Yes, I am one of those single women who have heard all their life ‘Just do other things you enjoy.. Serve the Lord with all your heart.. Think of all the stuff you can do right now..’ And guess what? I have done it, seen it, bought the T-shirt.
    Traveling around the world, seeing lots of things in the Church (the good, the bad and the ugly), and relying on the Lord to be my Joy and Strength.. yes, they are wonderful. But they do not take away the grief of singleness.
    ‘Find something you would enjoy doing’. Exactly. There is something I passionately want to do, but.. that is only possible within the bounds of marriage. Does that make sense? Consolation prizes do not really satisfy for ever.
    I love the Lord and would NEVER trade Him for a man.. but there are stuff (even answered prayers) I would happily exhange for a husband. Any day. Please Lord! If that is desperate.. well, desparate people in the Bible got results (think of Hannah, and the blind Bartimeus…), so I am in a good company! 🙂

    • I totally and completely understand. I’ve traveled the world, and while it’s AMAZING, there are times that I am like, “You know what would make this better? A MAN. I think, though, there are a lot of single people who have allowed their identity to solely be based on their relationship that they’re in…or not in.

      I would happily give up nachos for a man. Temporarily, probably. Actually, probably not. I take that all back. I need nachos.

      Thanks for the read and the support!

    • Ngal, I relate to your post.
      Those of us who wanted marriage, but it’s not happened, and may never happen, do get tired of being shamed for wanting marriage, or told things like to only “focus on Jesus,” and other spiritual sounding mumbo-jumbo.
      Sometimes, we singles who’d like to marry are told by some Christians that we have “made an idol out of marriage,” which is something that really annoys me – it shows a lack of compassion for people whose dream or hope never was fulfilled.
      One post I did at my blog a long time ago points out the hypocrisy of Christian culture on this.
      I’ve seen many Christian preachers and writers encourage Christians to chase after other goals in life and to pray for them, such as getting a bigger house, a better job (or what have you)…
      But these same types of Christian will shame and scold adult singles who say they want to get married (for admitting to being upset about being single, or for taking steps to make marriage happen)!
      Apparently in Christian culture, any and all things are acceptable to go after and pray for, except for marriage!

      (And this is the same culture that makes marriage into a golden calf in the first place and often depicts singleness as a second class status.
      You’re supposed to want to get married, but if you try to make it happen, you get shamed and scolded for trying, like for joining dating sites, etc.) It is hypocritical to the extreme.

      • So true. Double standards exist.. and it seems that the whole society & church is against single women getting married.
        Apparently, it is perfectly fine to go after material wealth (never mind what the Bible says about greed and making money our idol), but openly saying we want and pray for marriage… that brings loads of shaming.

        My prayer for 2016 is for all us single Christians to find those places and venues to meet and connect with other Christ-loving singles, wh actually want to get married and not just play around. It seems that there just are no places to meet anyone – church events can be the worst. It is not God’s will, as I am sure He would want His children to connect …
        May the Lord soon give us the desires of our heart, and practical steps to receive them!

  • May I enquire if you are familiar with a British Author who calls herself, “Hopeful Girl”? Is so, I think some of what you say may be right up her street.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am about to get married and my fiance and I have spent a lot of time thinking about how not to be “that couple” that makes everyone else uncomfortable becuase of how in love with our relationship we are. Sometimes the obsession with Christian marriage is unhealthy for single, dating and married people alike. Having now experienced two of those things, I’ve been searching for a healthy, realistic and loving-of-everyone way to view marriage. Still working on it, but the most helpful thing I’ve learned so far is to look at marriage as a type of community. God strongly emphasizes how he wants the church to love, support, appreciate and cherish one another. One of the important ways we show our love of God is to love the people around us– to be willing to put other’s needs above our own and to enjoy each other. Some of us will be asked to practice that kind of community in a particular close marriage relationship. However, that doesn’t mean that we are off the hook when it comes to loving everyone else, or that other people can’t experience loving, fulfilling community without marriage. Marriage is simply one expression of Christian love and community. I agree it’s high time we focuss on all the others as well and I really hope my single friends are willing to speak out like you are if I don’t do a good job of spreading the love.

    • I think the obsession with Christian marriage is GREATLY unhealthy for many, many reasons, but the main one being the fact that Christian marriage is advertised as problem free and full of endless amounts of joy and love. It’s a naive way of thinking, and I wish that we were more honest about it.

      It sounds like you DO have a healthy, realistic approach to all of this, so I really doubt that you’ll be “that person.” And the thing is, any of us have the ability to be “that person” if we forget the struggle the we previously encountered.

      Thanks for the input. I love it !

  • Loving and living in community with others are universal commands for people in the church (and really just people who want to be good humans in general). Marriage is just one expression of community– and while it can be really rewarding and make you very “happy” at times– it can also (like other relationships) cause pain frustration and struggle. I was single for a while and now I’m about to get married. When I was single, I had to work on loving other people and focussing on the relationships I had around me. Now, I still have to do that only one of those relationships is my future husband. For me, being single was way harder and required a lot more emontional & spiritual work. Single people should be celebrated– not given lots of advice about the “right” way to do things (because honestly, we are all supposed to be working on being our best self no matter our relationship status). I’m sorry that single people are not more supported and recognized for the effort it can take to search out and experience authentic, loving community in a culture that glorifies individualism and romantic love– and I cringe for the people who want to be single and who are actively looking for relationship alike who have to deal with these expectations. Marriage is not an excuse to stop loving other people around you and it doesn’t increase someon’s worth as a person or a member of God’s family one bit. I hope my single friends will give me the grace to call me out like this if I become part of the problem.

    • I don’t see your single friends having to call you out on this, mainly because it sounds like you understand the struggle! And don’t get me wrong- I don’t want to categorize all married people as these insensitive, one-minded joined at the hip couples. I hope to be married one day myself!

      I think it’s important to remember every single struggle that we’ve walked through. It helps us help other people.

      Thanks for the support and the input!

  • Leah, the married woman in your example would do well to re-read the book of Ruth. Ruth not only actively looked for a partner (with the help of Naomi), she actively pursued Boaz. Evangelical complementarians frown on women making the first move, despite the example of Ruth. Even much of secular culture tells women that they must wait for a man to pursue them.

    On another note, can you enlighten me on what a fly homie is?

    • Ruth is my MOST FAVORITE book of the Bible, Clarke, and got prompted me to study it a few years back. Ruth was the kind of woman that I want to be. It’s always funny to me that the church encourages women to be these quiet little church mouses in the dating realm when the Bible is FULL of examples where they weren’t.

      Also, a fly homie is a Jerry, not a George 😉

  • I’m right there with you. Yesterday, I was at a knitting class with several retired women (don’t worry, I have other hobbies as well ;-)), who were asking me about my life – do you have a husband? do you have a boyfriend?

    I said no. But…my life is full.

    The teacher liked that response. (I’ll be honest, it surprised me a little too.) It’s true, most of the time, I don’t feel that I’m lacking and that my life would only improve if I had a significant other in my life. In saying this, I definitely didn’t mean that I don’t want to get married – because I do! But I’m content to be single…for now.

    For the most part, most of my married friends are really good about not making me feel “less than” because I am single, for which I am grateful. Though sometimes I get comments like – you’re just so special, the right guy hasn’t come along yet! there isn’t anyone good enough for you…and my response is that that is categorically untrue. I know it’s well-meaning, but…

    • It’s hard when you know that people mean well, but it doesn’t take away from them being a complete butthead. It’s important to remember people’s intentions, which I think it sounds like you’re definitely doing that.

      I wrote a piece a while back about how we make the mistake of leading with the question of, “are you dating anyone?!” when we are talking to single people. It seems odd, because we would never ask a women, “Pregnant yet?” or a man “Get that raise yet?” That would be inappropriate and people would shush us for that. But hey, go ahead and pry into my dating life, no problem!

      Thanks for the read and the support. And by the away, there is no judgement here for your knitting 😉

  • I was totally happy single. Now I’m totally happy married. I was a complete person before I met my husband, living an interesting life, doing things that appealed to me. I’m still doing that, but now I share a budget and need to consider someone else’s feelings.

    One of the reasons I regularly write about dating/relationships/sex/marriage is because I never heard the advice I needed when I was single or dating. In fact, I continue to read terrible advice all the time for marrieds and non-marrieds. I hope that my tiny piece of the Internet counters the larger unhelpful part of the Internet.

    • Yes! It’s so possible to be happy as both, and I love that you’re happy both ways. I think there are some people who just can’t function if they haven’t “advised” someone at least 20 times a day. I generally avoid those people 🙂

      Thanks for the support! I’d love to read your writings, by the way!

  • Part 1. – I have a blog where I regularly discuss how Christian culture treats adult singles, and how they teach about singleness and marriage. I’ve brought up some of the same points (or ones similar) to this blog post.

    I’ve noticed that as soon as single lady friends of mine get boyfriends or husbands, they disappear. This has been true since I was a teenager and now that I am an adult.

    One of my internet friends (whom I’ve known for ages) used to e-mail me often, so long as her military husband was deployed.

    The moment her husband got back state side, however, she would pretty much ignore me, or take her time getting back to me.

    Married people really ought to stop treating their single friends as temporary “loneliness averters” just because the husband is out of town.

    By the way, I have seen, fairly consistently over the years, that married people do not get this horrible dynamic until it happens to them personally: that is, marrieds whose spouses divorce them or die.

    Once these married persons become “single again” (via death, divorce, or the spouse gets severe dementia) they will say in letters or on blogs that their married friends – who used to invite them over all the time when they had a spouse – now stop calling, e-mailing, or visiting.

    And they say it hurts deeply to know they are not wanted, merely for being single. Yep, there are double standards about this.

    I don’t think people should give advice on any topic unless it is specifically asked for. When people are hurting, the want empathy, NOT advice.

    A lot of advice contains hints of condemnation or judgmentalism (whether it’s to someone who lost a loved one, or a single adult who wants to be married or what have you).

    A lot of advice to single women (even that which comes from Christians) seems to assume the reason the woman in question has not snagged a man yet is that she is too needy, too dependent, too unattractive – or not pretty enough, not thin enough, or not “whatever” enough.

    There was a really good secular article with a title of, “All dating advice is as terrible as the people who give it” by a Oliver Burkeman, hosted on The Guardian’s site. I would encourage every single to do a web search on that and read it.

    • Part 2-
      I was a devout Christian from youth up to the last few years (early 40s now), and following all the usual Christian advice did not land me a husband.

      Including the moldy oldy, “seek the Lord, trust in Jesus, pray for a spouse, have faith, and in God’s timing, He will send you a spouse!!” -Yeah, that never happened. Tried it, it did not work.

      I just mentioned in a post of mine a few days ago how a lot of married Christian couples – the ones ages, I don’t know 45 years old, 50, 60 and older who have been married for 20, 30 years – who issue dating advice do not understand what it is like to be a never-married adult in one’s mid 30s or older.

      Being single at age 25 today is not the same as being age 25 back in 1954 or 1975. Being never-married today at age 43, 54, etc, is not the same as being single at age 24 back in 1983 or 1964.

      And most dating advice I hear from the long married over age 40s certainly reveals they are staggeringly ignorant of what it’s like to be single in 2016, or in one’s 40s.

      Evangelical Christians love rules. But rules don’t always work. They will tell you, “here are ten steps to get a husband” (or whatever), but there is no guarantee that following said rules will work.

      Christian dating advice is often contradictory: they will tell women to be independent, because men don’t want clingy women, but then they tell women, don’t be too independent, because then men will think you don’t need them.

      I leave you with this thought (something I blogged about before): consider the fact that many of the same Christians who give dating advice (which are often gender complementarians) are the same people who often advise Christian women who are in abusive marriages to continue to submit to their abusive husband.

      Complementarian preachers, such as John Piper, are on record as instructing abused women it is their duty to “endure” abuse “for a season.” They are taught the the husband is the boss-head in the marriage.

      I don’t think it’s wise to take dating advice from the same group of people who instruct women to stay in abusive marriages no matter what.

      I just did a post not too long about how a lot of men mistake platonic, friendly banter as flirtation, so yes, I can see how asking a guy in a store about motor oil will cause them to flirt back.

      Personally, I don’t like it. I’ve had too many guys mistake my friendly (non romantic) chit chat as being romantic overtures, and it’s not.

      • “I don’t think it’s wise to take dating advice from the same group of people who instruct women to stay in abusive marriages no matter what.”

        Exactly. They do not have a healthy approach to relationships & marriage.

        The problem where I live, is that Christian men are so afraid of women that even talking to them causes them to panic.
        We women are often told, ‘Go to talk to those shy Christian brothers and encourage them’, but if I do that (very innocently, not trying to seduce anyone), the guy soon bolts the door … sigh.
        Often it seems that just because I am a woman and look feminine (breasts etc) that is enough to generate hatred and contempt.
        That’s why I prefer not to speak to Christian single guys – I don’t want to be misunderstood and judged for being a woman…!
        Single men are frustrated and suffer, but they expect God to drop this perfect woman onto their lap… A living, breathing, sincere woman in their vicinity is not enough.

        Humanly, I do not have answers. May God give us grace and instructions how to tackle this dilemma.

    • Hi! COULD NOT AGREE MORE! Man, you nailed it. You could have written that for me! I especially loved this line:

      “I don’t think people should give advice on any topic unless it is specifically asked for. When people are hurting, the want empathy, NOT advice.”

      So, so, so, so true. I find, ironically enough, that the people usually giving me advice are the people that know me the least. It’s so funny to me!

      Thanks for the support and the read! I greatly appreciate it!

  • I understand your frustration with the response of “stop looking,” but I would tell that to both my guy and girl friends. It’s not because I “found a recipe for success in love,” but because I think it’s biblical. We’re not supposed to be finely tuned to know when there’s a hottie in every aisle in Target, or have so much sexual tension all the time that we feel like we’re about to explode. We’re supposed to focus on God, doing His work, and following His plan, and let everything else happen as it may.

    • Hey Kelly! First of all, thanks for reading this. I appreciate it! I do have to disagree with you, though. I think it’s naive to think that being finely tuned to the hot men around us means that we aren’t in tune to God and following his plan. I honestly just think that’s silly, and it sends the wrong message about who God is and his love for us. I want to be pursued, for sure. But saying hello to a man doesn’t mean that I am stepping outside of God’s will.

      Additionally, God created sex, and yeah, I’m ready to have sex, and I don’t think that makes me wrong. I think God put that desire inside of us, and sex wasn’t created to be disgusting. I don’t really find that I alluded that we were exploding with sexual tension or waiting in the automotive aisle for a potential makeout partner, but more just that there’s not a perfect answer for single people, and we need to stop pretending that there’s a single bandaid that fixes every wound.

      Thanks again for reading!

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