Almost all of us will spend some of our adult lives single, but when we do we’ll be in a sometimes uncomfortable minority. There are some brilliant things about the single life and some challenges we need to help each other in to build deep and strong community for all of us.
Following on from this earlier post, here are nine ways to be a great friend to someone who’s single. It’s illustrated with pics of awesome (and famous) single people.
Don’t make an ASS out of U and ME
Single people are as diverse as a group as the rest of humanity is, of course. On top of that, being single in your twenties is pretty different from being single in your fifties; becoming single through being widowed or divorced are hugely different again.
So don’t assume that anything on this list applies to your single friends and their situations, but do ask.
Offer to match-make (I said ‘offer‘)
Plenty of single people who are looking for a partner find it difficult to meet eligible bachelor/ettes. There’s no Saturday night dance at the village hall anymore.
This can be an awkward one, but it doesn’t need to be. If you know someone who you think might interest your friend, just offer, in a no-strings way, to put them in contact if they’re open to the idea. No problem if not.
Don’t match-make without asking. Really. A single person’s love-life is not public property.
Invite friends to be involved in your family life
If you have kids, be generous with them (as appropriate for you and them, of course).
Invite single friends who don’t have children to be as involved as they like in your family life. Of course, they may not be too interested in kids, but if they are, here are some ideas:
- Ask a single friend to be a godparent to your child, or give them the honorary title of Auntie or Uncle
- Regularly or occasionally, invite them to join in the everyday chaos of a family dinner. Invite them to do the bedtime story too, if that works for everyone.
- Ask them to babysit. Obviously, you’ll want to see them yourselves at other times too, but some single people really enjoy being in sole charge of kids.
- Invite them to family occasions like kids’ birthday parties and (if they’re hardy) school concerts. These are experiences people without kids can miss out on.
If I say to you, belligerently, ‘I haven’t done nothing wrong,’ the literal words might mean I’m guilty, but you know that I mean I’m innocent.
If I say ‘family’ when I just mean ‘household,’ single people might know I’m talking about them too, but it just underlines any sense of exclusion they may already feel.
Only give ‘combined’ presents if you receive them too
I love birthdays. Do you love birthdays? I LOVE birthdays.
Here’s a tip to make your single friends’ birthdays even better. If you and your partner each received a birthday present from your friend/sister/colleague, don’t give her just one present combined from you both – even if it’s twice the value of one normal gift.
Even if one of you mostly does the present-buying (I’m HOH gifts in our house), give two things, or wrap a pair of things separately. I know, I know, it’s not a big deal, but repeatedly losing out on the present-go-round can be one of those little things that can make being single a bit depressing.
Offer practical help
One of the great things about having a partner is the division of labour. If you have single friends who live alone, consider offering your services.
It made a huge difference to me, when I was single and living by myself, that one kind person mowed my lawns for me, others regularly dropped frozen meals around when I was sick, and another set up a new router for me.
If you have a neighbour living alone, perhaps you could tell them you’re available if they ever have concerns late at night.
Offering help with gardening, trailer runs, home handy stuff, tax returns, spring cleans, or just saying you’re on the other end of a phone if you’re ever needed: gold.
It’s often a partner’s job to organise special celebrations like big birthday parties. Perhaps you could offer to host or organise an event for a single friend?
And a bunch of roses is a lovely gift for pretty much anyone.
Don’t be down on odd numbers
Lots of people notice the drop-off in dinner invitations when they go from having a partner to being single.
Next time you’re having a few people over for a meal, make up your mind that either a) odd numbers really don’t matter or b) two single people on your guest list will even things out beautifully.
Partner up platonically
One great thing about having a partner (for some people) is having a default person to go to the movies with, learn Te Reo with, see a new exhibition with, go tramping with.
Listen out for things your single friends might be keen to do but not have a buddy for. Invite them to go together with your household to stuff or offer yourself as a just-the-two-of-you partner for social stuff.
That’s my list, and it’s not intended to be exhaustive. What else would you add?
And do head over to the first post in the series for thoughtful comments from a bunch of people.
This is part of an occasional series on being single and being friends with single people. You might like to check out the other posts:
Single #1: Open thread (check out all the excellent comments on this post)
If you’re newish to Sacraparental, you might like to check out the Sacraparental Facebook feed, with daily links and resources, my Twitter feed and my Pinterest boards, especially the topical Koinonia: deepening community.
The shadow image is by Nina Matthews.