How To Avoid Being A Jerk To Your Single Friends Just Because You're Married
I am married, but I have single friends — some of them single for years — and if I hear one more person condescend to them about their life choices, I am going to scream. If the fight for marriage equality has taught us anything (other than that homophobia is still alive and well), it's that marriage is viewed as a particularly strong and "normal" institution in today's society. So normal, in fact, that those who opt out of it — and have no person to walk down any aisle, whether it be bridal or supermarket — are often left feeling like bemused bystanders in life's Leveling-Up Game. Wedding: 10 Points. Children: 20 Points. Being A Good Friend/Coworker/Philanthropist/Neighbor While Not Having A Partner : Of Apparently Limited Value.
The notion of marriage as the "next step" is so ingrained in some sectors of society that its entrenched value system treats singletons as some sort of bizarre lizard-people — until, that is, they nail somebody down and enter into "civilized" adult society again. Well, I'm done with it. No Single Person Left Behind. Marital smugness, condescension, and pity need to be outlawed. Or at least, have it put in the standard marriage contract: "in sickness, health, and when one of you is being a d*ckhead to a single friend."
Married people are not infinitely superior beings. They're just lucky and didn't get stuck with somebody who stole all their stuff / kicked their dog / generally acted like a lunatic. So if you are hitched, here are 11 tips on how to treat the single people in your life properly, so that they don't make a Pinterest board of your face Photoshopped with boils.
1. Do Not Assume That They Want To Be In A Relationship
You have not ascended to a new plane of existence because somebody put some hardware on your ring finger. You do not get to assume that your position is so enviable that everybody is clawing to get it — even the person who has been completely happy without a partner for 12 years.
2. Validate Their Choices
Are they having fun? Are they getting pleasure out of their dating situation? Are they making healthy sexual decisions for themselves? Then they deserve a flag with "Yay" on it, not you sitting to one side making a judgmental face like a cat whose favorite cushion was plumped wrong. And "healthy" does not mean "trying to find a person for a relationship and permanent snuggle times."
3. Don't Regard Every New Relationship As Their "One"
I could not think of anything more annoying than introducing a new partner and immediately having married friends start planning our first dance. (Luckily, I was the first one married out of all my friends, so they were mostly just puzzled by the whole thing.) The notion of a relationship's endgame being marriage may actually not be what your friend wants. If they think they're the one, get them cake. If they're just having some fun, get them cake.
4. Don't Merge Into A Single Social Entity With Your Partner
The phenomenon of "we-dom" is well-known for being excruciatingly annoying. A side effect of particular interest, though, is that it overshadows every person who has the dismal luck to only possess their own opinions, rather than multiplying them via spouse like some kind of splitting cell. No, "we" does not get more weight in the movie choice than "I."
5. Try Not To Let Them Be The Only Single Person At A Dinner Party
Be sensitive to peoples' feelings. Couples can be insular and ridiculous, flirt, fight, and generally behave like totally uncivilized beings. Do not expose a single person to this terrible behavior without a buffer of at least one other single person — preferably more. Couples together can excuse each others' marital nonsense; singles do not need the nausea.
6. ... But Don't Exclude Them From Events Just Because They Have No Date, Either
A couples-only dinner party is not an acceptable option if your single friend knows everybody else there and would be naturally expected to come along. Don't hold a pogrom on your social group, divide it down the middle, and exclude one half from stuff because "it's all couples." (Unless you're all going on a shopping trip for monogrammed stuff at Williams-Sonoma. Let the singles sleep in for that one.)
You still have stuff in common with your single friends; keep doing it, keep inviting them to stuff, and don't make them feel that their singleness is a social burden that incurs your pity.
7. Only Set Them Up If They Explicitly Ask You To
Is there anything worse than being pushed onto another innocent being at a party by well-meaning friends who've decided you'd be "perfect" together because you both once shared the same Facebook video about a cat in a box? If they come to you for help and angle for an introduction, do it. If not, shut up — or at least just invite all possible candidates to a massive party and let them play.
8. Don't Consider Their Single Status Their Defining Characteristic
I am fairly certain that you, as an interesting and cultured individual, are friends with interesting and cultured individuals whose most exciting characteristic is not what genitals they currently see regularly. Do not characterize them as such to other people. Singleness is not a disease to be discussed in hushed tones. They don't have TB.
9. Remember That You Are Not An Expert Just Because You Got Hitched
The fact that some fellow lunatic has decided to put up with your particular brand of crazy for life does not make you a relationship expert. Too many married people assume that their position makes them qualified to rule on relationship problems with utter authority. You do not have to pass a test to get married (regrettable though that is), so a single friend with an emotional issue does not have to listen to your every word like it's the gospel.
10. Don't Assume That They Always Have More Time Because Of Their Relationship Status
Single people do not necessarily have time on their hands to organize bachelorette parties, baby showers, or other festivities for Real Adult People Doing Relationship Things. They may be doing other stuff, like walking dogs, having jobs, flirting with four people at once on Tinder, getting their scuba qualification, and basically rocking at life. Don't delegate to the single person; delegate to the person who knows how to use Google Calendar.
11. Openly Celebrate Non-Relationship Achievements
Have they, or anybody else, done something excellent that doesn't involve dresses, babies, or yet another excruciating speech from a best man? Have they bought a house, gotten a huge promotion, found funding for their start-up, or booked a round-the-world trip? Congratulations! Throw a huge party. Dress up. Give them your time, attention, and expense. Praise should not only be reserved for relationships.
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