It’s not so popular anymore, but Sh*t People Say was a common meme back in 2012 (oh so long ago). They highlighted some of the awkward ridiculousness white people say to black people, or people say to transracial families, or crazy girlfriends say to their boyfriends. A recent conversation reminded me of those videos.
A married lady, another single girl, and I were together at a conference. They were sharing a giggle over all the good-looking guys walking around. The married woman kept pointing out guys she thought especially cute, “How about that one? I could set you up with him.”
We were there for work, and I’m a type-A person when there’s a job at hand, so I was only half-listening. They mistook my disinterest for annoyance and began half-apologizing.
By way of explanation, the single girl said, “You know those married people who are just so happy they want everyone else to be as happy as they are?”
Until then, I’d wanted to steer clear of the conversation, but this I couldn’t let go. A little more hotly than I should’ve, I said, “Well, I’d disagree with the assumption that I’m not as happy as someone who’s married.”
“Oh, we believe you,” said the married woman. “It’s just that I know how miserable she is, so we’re trying to fix that.”
This little snippet of conversation has stuck with me ever since because of two not just awkward, but dangerous assumptions. The first assumption we’ll talk about today, the second one tomorrow.
Assumption 1: Single people can’t possibly be happy
This always feels like a similar trap to the question, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” Neither yes or no works as an answer. Similarly, it often feels like single folks are being asked, “Are you happy being so lonely?” It’s rare for the statement, “I’m quite contented and happy being single” to be met with belief.
The overwhelming message of Christian culture is that marriage is the only path to true happiness and fulfillment (especially for women). In general, evangelicals are sorely lacking in role models for what it means to lead a contented, celibate life. Sadly, I know men and women happy with a life of singleness who were pushed towards marriage because it seemed like the only legitimate option for someone who wanted to lead a full, God-honoring life.
I was blessed with good Christian, single role models who lived joyful, contented lives of service. I think this is a main reason I find myself single and happy to be so. The times I have deeply questioned this “status” or found myself unhappy with it have often been when others indicated to me it I would not be enough unmarried.
That’s more of an annoying assumption. The more dangerous assumption made in that conversation tomorrow.
Have you ever heard (or made) this assumption about a single person? Do you know any single folks who’re living contentedly?