Why do we tell single people this?

Why is it whenever someone bemoans the fact that they are single, someone will come out and say something along the lines of they should “cherish/ be overjoyed/ be happy/etc being single”? Why do they make it seem like a bad thing for someone to WANT to be with someone?

Something about fences and the color of the grass.

No one has ever told me that, personally.

Now, I’ve told people that I love being single and wouldn’t have it any other way. But only in response to them expressing pity for me or offering unsolicited advice about how to get a man. I’ve encountered a lot more of that than praises for singlehood. And I have told people that being singl isn’t the worst thing in the world, but only in response to them grieving over a failed relationship. There’s only so much you can say to comfort a person who keeps striking out.

What would you rather people say? “Being single sucks! Sorry you’re in such a sucky situation, pal!” This is neither helpful or true.

Count me in as another who does NOT perceive the same as the OP, and suscribe me to monstro’s post, with the appropriate gender adjustments. On the contrary as far as I can tell the norm remains that if Person X “bemoans being single”, his/her immediate surrounding community will be proferring abundant advice and motivation about how to get yourself squared away to go get that taken care of, at the very very least saying “hey, it’s ok for now, someone will show up when you least expect it”.

In that sense, people seeking to give X a bit of affirmation that you are still good and worth it even if not currently coupled is a well-meaning effort at helping X get over the rough spot. Because the general culture still does put a lot of pressure on you to be part of a couple at any given time and they want you to not judge yourself harshly in that light.

One thing, though: if Person X keeps going on and on bemoaning singlehood at every opportunity, the members of the ecosystem will rightfully grow tired of that at some point.

Because they are married or have been married!

(Why they call married people “lovers” is beyond me??? :smiley: )

I think Mean Mr. Mustard has the gist of it, but I will expand, based on my experience. YMMV, of course.

IMO, there are two motives behind people telling you to enjoy/cherish/relish your single state:

  1. They are telling you that they are unhappy or disappointed to some degree in their currently “coupled-up” existence but don’t have the ability/courage/funds/energy to end it. Often people who wish they were free from their present situation endow the single state with a glittering aura of freedom and fun.

  2. They are hinting to you that your desire to be with someone may be based on a hope that someone else will fix your life problems for you. Seeking a relationship from this position too often leads to making significant compromises in your choice.

Now, to the real question you asked: Is it a bad thing to want to be with someone? The short answer is, no, it’s not. The long answer takes more into consideration.

If I’ve learned anything in 59 years, it is that everything comes with a price. If you truly understand the needs and motives behind the “purchase” you want to make – in this case, a relationship – then you (and only you) will know if the price is acceptable. Our culture has insidiously taught us that intimate relationships are a guaranteed path to happiness and freedom from loneliness, financial worries, and not having a date on Friday night. (Of course, this message is patently untrue. Take if from someone who has been married three times and learned it the hard way.)

Have you built a life that you, for the most part anyway, enjoy? Do you have friends, a hobby you enjoy, life outside of your work? Many single people yearn for a relationship because making a fulfilling life for yourself, by yourself, is hard work.

If you have a full and meaningful life of your own and want a partner to share it with, by all means, full steam ahead. But looking to someone else to give your life shape and meaning can lead to heartbreak.

When my single friends whine about being single I ask them why, if they really want to be in a relationship, aren’t they in one?
Then I tell them to go get professional help, because every single one of them has issues and that is the reason they are not in a relationship. Most of them look for problems before they even give a potential partner a chance.
One friend dumped a guy because she was afraid he was just using her for sex. That they hadn’t had sex yet, didn’t matter, she was afraid that that was all he wanted.
Another friend is obsessing over… her new potential bf broke up with his ex several months ago. He’s decided he’s ready to start dating, but his ex started dating immediately after the breakup. My friend wants to know why his ex didn’t wait a suitable amount of time before dating. I told my friend it is none of her business, but she says it is because there must be something wrong with him for his ex to have gotten over him so quickly.
Another friend dumped a nice guy because she caught a glimpse of the two of them in a window and she was horrified to see that the two of them together didn’t make an attractive couple.
I could write a book on all the dumb bullshit I hear from single friends, from not liking the guys shoes, to he calls too often, or not often enough; or why does he like her when she is not attractive as his ex; or why did he date the ugly woman that is his ex. I cannot believe the bullshit problems they create.

If you want to be in a relationship you will be. You will get out there and date, and meet people, and have fun; and when you meet somebody suitable who isn’t waving big red flags you’ll allow yourself to get involved. You’ll trust that the other person is a grown assed person who knows what they want and is with you because that is where they want to be. You won’t question every damn thing they do or say, or wondering what their motivations are. You won’t spend all your time looking for something to be wrong. You’ll get over being afraid of being lied to, or cheated on, or used for sex, or used for money, or what other people think, or how you look together.
Until you are secure enough in yourself, and value yourself, and know what you want, are realistic about it, and are willing to put the required work into it - you will be single. Accept it or change it, but please stop whining about it.

Most of my real friends are married and honestly they are more fun to hang out with. Seems they are always trying to hook me up with different lady friends of theirs. Hanging out and getting blitz with a bunch of dudes gets old quick. Maybe a few times a year is ok, like catching a game or something.

They do always pressure me to settle down with that “special someone” but I have met so many good people through dating and remaining friends afterwards. If I need a date I have plenty of lady friends that would be happy to go with and the same goes for them, say if they need a date to an office party or some other outing.

Never had a bad breakup luckily

Seen many marriages go sour and I don’t think I am brave enough to enter under contract with someone from what I’ve seen, but then again I envy those who have indeed found their soul mate.

I think there can also be some urging to appreciate the good parts of what you’ve got as a single person. I mean, I’m not single, and happy about it, but there are times when I miss being able to pop into happy hour on the spur of the moment, or get up at 11:00 AM and spend the day watching TV movies by myself, or not have to deal with someone else’s dirty friggin’ pots that they burned stuff onto but refuse to clean and just leave in the sink forever like some house fairy will magically make go away (um, just as a theoretical example).

So sure, if you’re single and want to find someone, all my best wishes and good luck to you (and whatever help I can offer) at finding them, but it can’t hurt to also be happy about and enjoy the good parts of where you are, even if you’re trying to get somewhere else.

Im legally separated and living alone, couldn’t be better. I feel that when I live with someone it means discussing living with them and dealing with their problems all the time. In my experience members of large families hide in their bedrooms to be left alone anyway

If you’re not able to be happy alone and ‘bemoan’ it, the same issues are going to keep you from being happy in a relationship. It’s one thing if you’re just griping after some bad dates or lack of response to a dating account, but people who ‘bemoan’ their single state generally have huge, glaring problems that they can’t or won’t address. The relationship they end up with is not likely to be healthy because of their problems, and is likely to end for weird or dumb reasons like Sahirrnee listed. Also, the people who ‘bemoan’ their single state tend to be breathtakingly unwilling to put in effort to change it, which gets old for people around them too.

“It’s better to be single and wishing you were married, than to be married and wishing you were single.”

I too LOVE being single. I always told myself, the only way I would ever consider NOT being single is if I were to meet someone who is super hot, (call me superficial if you must), super smart, and a bit nerdy like I am.

Now, I’m not stupid. I knew the chances of me actually meeting someone like that and her actually being interested in me, were basically the same chances I had at winning the power ball lottery. So I had pretty much resigned myself to being single for the rest of my life. And I was just fine with that.

But holy crap! I DID manage to meet that woman of my dreams. And for some strange reason she seems to be equally in love with me. So here I am, in a relationship I was sure was never going to happen. With this luck, it kind of makes me think I should play the lotto.

Because most people seem to think they know what is best for everyone else. It is a human thing, I think.

If I have learned anything about communication in nearly 40 years on the planet, it’s that you have to look at the intention and not just the words.

Most of what people are saying has nothing to do with the literal meaning of their words - “How’s it going?” is just a way of saying “I detect your presence and wish to declare my friendly intentions.” Very rarely are people actually asking how things are going. If we were dogs, they would be sniffing your butt instead. Pretty much the same thing.

So when they’re telling you all the wonderful parts of being single, what they really mean is “Here’s a situation you have little control over; you might as well experience the positives while you’re in that situation. Also, I like you and want good things for you.” Maybe they’re even saying they wish they were single, but maybe not.

Because they are unhappy in their own situation and wish they were unattached and single. But it is a way to point out that someone is not normal in their view and this is a way to think the single person needs to be made comfortable. It is the same situation I have seen with people who are uncomfortable around other ethnicities. They make comments they think are making someone else comfortable. When in reality, if they just talk about something else and treated people normally it wouldn’t be an issue and everyone would feel more comfortable.

I don’t comment on things like that to people regardless of how well I know them, because I don’t think it makes sense for me to direct someone to do something or not do something which I regard as a highly personal choice. I couldn’t possibly know their situation. People do things in their own time. I know a guy who is 50 years old and never dated before and 2 years ago he met someone and they are now married.

I’m still waiting for the OP to tell us what we should be saying.

When some people complain, they just want validation. Saying something like “Yeah, that sucks” is all they want to here, in that particular moment.

Others want constructive advice. So saying “yeah, that sucks” isn’t going to cut it for them. They want concrete suggestions about how to fix the bind they are in.

And then others are looking for assurances. They don’t want their friend to agree with them that it is the end of the world. They don’t want their friend to jump into problem-solving mode. They just want someone to say “It’s going to be alright”.

“There’s nothing wrong with being single” falls into the last category. It is what you say when there isn’t anything else you can say.

OP, if this doesn’t work for you, maybe consider the possibility that you’ve either been complaining too much or complaining to the wrong people.

Where do you find these people? As near as I can tell, it never dawns on my friends that I might be looking for someone.

I agree with this. I don’t think people who say what the OP is complaining about necessarily wish they themselves were single. They are just telling the OP to make the best of his current situation.

Humans have the tendency to think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. This thinking is a constant source of suffering. Whether you’re unhappily single or unhappily married, it’s tempting to think the other guy has it much better. But they don’t. Yes, it sucks mightily to feel lonely and unloved and unnurtured. It sucks to not have a family if that is what you want. But it’s not all bad. You have freedom that is enviable. You can be yourself completely. You have fewer obligations and expectations placed on your head. Relish in that.

A relationship is like an island, if you don’t bring it you won’t have it. If you can’t be happy being single you won’t be happy being a couple.