I can still visualize my glorious entrance. I was late, as usual, but I entered the house with a determination to overcome my gaffe with flair and fun. I opened the door in a burst of energy and a smile. People were gathered around, talking, laughing, waiting.
The host of the house approached. "Hey, girl, have you not gotten married yet?" he asked loudly. Fade to black.
Perhaps the man was caught in a web of conversation about recent marriages. Perhaps he was bored and thought it might be fun to liven things up at my expense. Whatever the reason, his boorish comment did not make my list of life's most enjoyable moments.
Thankfully, I've since recovered.
With single-led households making up about half of American family units these days, singleness is a true cultural phenomenon.
I have been thinking and listening to the voices of other singles weighing in on what we wish marrieds remembered about singleness, the off-beat things people say, and what helps make singles happy. I've taken the liberty of compiling a list of some ideas below.
Let's begin with how marrieds can help make their single friends happy. Try not to say the following:
"The reason you're single is you're too picky."
"I don't know why a pretty/handsome person like yourself is still single."
"So, why are you STILL single?" or "I can't believe you're STILL single."
Be thoughtful about discussing family topics with single friends. For example, you may not want to go on about your wonderful family excursions with someone who has just undergone a divorce or doesn't see their children as much as they'd like.
Sentiments that are generally welcomed:
Take time to care. Consider the idea that singles issues are just as valuable and relevant as marriage and family issues.
Remember that you were once single. What did you feel, need, want?
Offer encouraging words.
Support singles during difficult times such as an illness, injury, childbirth, joblessness, the end of a relationship, etc.
Ask if they'd like to be set up on a date -- for friendship or romantic possibilities and follow through with a person you think is quality.
Offer to baby-sit for a single parent friend.
Invite singles to social occasions and holiday events.
Offer a home-cooked meal from time to time or help with fixing something in the home or car.
Lastly, here are some simple ways singles can make themselves happy:
Fill your life up with great friendships. Join social networks and enriching classes. Join singles' organizations. Prioritize your connections to friends and family.
Don't forget to have fun. Pursue your hobbies and vacations as passionately as your career. Go on cruises, hiking, biking and skiing trips.
Serve. Offer your skills to the community.
Be honest with yourself when things feel tough and find the support you need.
Tabi Upton, MA-lpc is a therapist at CBI-Richmont Graduate University and founder of www.chattanoogacounselor.com. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.