As a happily single person, I’m well-accustomed to being a third wheel and living my best life. I’ve also grown to be accustomed to receiving relationship advice I didn’t ask for from (usually) well-intentioned people. I go on dates. I flirt (or I try, at least). I’ve used dating apps. I’m not anti-dating. However, being open to dating doesn’t mean I’m unhappy being single.
I’m not here to try to convince you that being single is so much better than being in a relationship. I don’t believe that being single requires me to dramatically roll my eyes at any couple that crosses my path or insist that all love stories are cheesy. In that same way, I don’t believe that people should assume others are single because something is wrong with them.
Being single isn’t always a problem to fix. And even if it is a problem to fix — because, hey, sometimes single people truly are looking for a relationship and there’s no shame in that — we should stop assuming that single women themselves have problems that need to be fixed.
Women might be single for a variety of reasons: because they want to be, because they haven’t found someone who they wanted to date, because they’ve met tons of people they’re incompatible with, because they’re busy, etc.
Being single shouldn’t be viewed as a symptom of flaws in the way a woman acts, looks or approaches dating. Below I’ve presented some common advice single women receive — and why it might not be the best advice.
You’re too picky
OK, so your friend could actually be picky — no one’s perfect and when dating, people should realize that. However, I’ve received this advice because of not going out with guys who were obviously incompatible with me. There are some things that are essential to me in a significant other, such as beliefs about gender equality, and I won’t compromise those. If being in a relationship means that I have to do so, then I’d much rather be single.
There’s nothing wrong with women knowing what they want and value in a partner and having some expectations (it’s 2018 — let’s hold people accountable regardless of gender). If your single friend asks you why she’s single, you can be honest and say something like, “you have high standards” or “you just haven’t met someone who’s right for you,” but you don’t have to frame it as a problem if it’s truly not one.
You’re kind of intimidating
Again, if your friend is looking for honest advice and you truly feel she’s intimidating for some reason, be honest. But first, think about what’s making her seem “intimidating”. If you point out that she always keeps to herself, crosses her arms and avoids eye contact, that’s valid advice (if your friend asked for advice). But if she’s “too intimidating” because she knows what she wants, exudes confidence, strolls into bars with her squad and excels in her career — nope, she’s not “too” anything, aside from being too good for a man who’s intimidated by a woman’s confidence and success.
Women shouldn’t have to dumb themselves down or make themselves seem more vulnerable to attract people. Instead, if your friend asks for advice, you could say something like, “I think men are intimidated by your intelligence, which totally sucks because it’s 2018 and have we made no progress at all in society???”
You seem uninterested
Again, this might be valid sometimes. But if a woman seems “uninterested” because she’s not confessing her love for every person she encounters, well, that brings me to my next point…
You’re too eager
Here’s the thing. When women text often, make the first move or initiate plans, they’re often told they’re too eager. They might seem desperate or too interested, people say. They might scare prospective partners away, people say. Yet when women listen to this advice, “stop texting so much” and “don’t make the first move”, then people say they don’t seem interested enough.
How can women win with this kind of advice? Instead, encourage your friend to be her authentic self, even if it’s cliché. If your friend is the queen of double texting and the person she’s talking to can’t handle that, they probably aren’t a good match anyway. If a woman is pretty reserved but someone expects her to be showy about her affection, it’s better for them to know about that difference now rather than later.
Just give them a chance!
This is pretty situational. Maybe you think someone is great for your friend but she’s uninterested. Even in that situation, though, women are not obligated to give everyone a chance. If she has a bad feeling about someone or has another reason for not wanting to give this person a chance, then that’s ultimately her choice. You could encourage your friend to strike up a conversation with more people or go to more social events, but it’s OK to be picky when looking for someone to spend a whole lot of time with.
This isn’t to suggest that (in heterosexual relationships) a woman is never to blame for her failed attempts at dating and it’s always because no men are good enough for her. Women aren’t perfect. But let’s not automatically assume that being single is a woman’s problem to fix.
This isn’t one of those movies where a woman takes off her glasses, buys new clothes then suddenly captures the attention of the most attractive guy nearby. If a woman tells you stories about tons of bad dates she’s been on, she might have truly gone out with many people who were not right for her for whatever reasons. She doesn’t have to change herself because of it.