At 19, it was “too early” for me to begin dating. But at 21, I began receiving comments like: “Why you still single?”
In a short span of two years, the rules of the game seem to have changed.
The moment I crossed the big “2-0”, my relationship status suddenly became a topic of interest for everyone.
It reminded me of this hilarious video by Annette Lee on how Asian parents (or even relatives) view singlehood.
While I’m thankful my parents don’t tell me to get a boyfriend ASAP, I can’t help but feel the societal pressure to start looking for one.
It doesn’t help when I get well-meaning but unhelpful advice from others, including Bible verses.
Sometimes, these can leave one exasperated and even hurt.
After speaking with other singles, I’ve rounded up 5 most common statements we’ve heard, and how they can be more harmful than helpful.
The speaker meant to encourage my friend, but it was admittedly a difficult and disappointing thing to hear.
This is especially so if the listener is already struggling with loneliness.
Such a statement can generate bitterness towards God, and might even create unnecessary desperation and impatience.
Instead of second-guessing the Lord’s will for someone regarding their love life, help them fix their eyes on the bigger picture.
God’s will encompasses much more than our relationship status! It also includes walking in our calling.
Our end goal is ultimately to live out God’s purposes on this earth (Acts 13:36), whether single or married.
And for singles who might feel upset upon hearing the prospect of being celibate for the rest of our lives, is it because we associate singlehood with negative emotions such as loneliness and FOMO?
What are some lies we’ve unwittingly believed about singlehood?
Have we assumed that only a romantic relationship or marriage can “complete” us?
No flawed, sinful human can ever meet all our needs and fully satisfy us — only Jesus can.
As someone who does pray for a partner occasionally, this statement could give me false hopes.
It promotes the misconception that if we pray harder, more frequently and with greater sincerity, God will really give us what we want.
However, that’s totally wayyy off from what prayer should be.
Prayer isn’t a time to arm-twist God into doing things for us, nor is it a mode of transaction between us and God.
Prayer is a time to submit and align our desires with God, and know His heart for us.
Even Jesus submitted to his Father in all things!
We can see that when he taught His disciples to pray (Matthew 6:9-13), and when he cried out in the Garden of Gethsemane, “yet not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
I believe there is a tension to hold regarding the matter of singlehood.
On one hand, I do desire and pray for a partner, but on the other, I trust that God is still good even if I remain single for the rest of my life.
This statement plagues singles, but especially those who are in their late 20s.
When we start to see our friends getting attached and married, it’s tempting to wonder if we’re really being fussy about our future partners.
But there is a difference between being picky and settling for less.
Because there are things that truly matter, e.g. one’s spiritual walk with the Lord, faith convictions.
For singles, having a list of negotiable and non-negotiable traits could help us see whether we are being picky.
Never compromise on what’s non-negotiable.
Don’t know if your considerations are too narrow or too broad?
Remember, God has placed us in a community for a reason. Seek godly counsel with older friends or adults in your midst!
They can offer us unique perspectives that we might have missed out on.
Honestly, many things.
Sharing the same faith is definitely important in a relationship, but we can’t just jump into one based on that.
There are so many other factors to consider.
For one, what if the other person’s only Christian in name and not in deed?
Instead of growing in Christ together, it’s more likely that both parties will end up not pursuing Christ at all, especially if both are not rooted firmly in God and in a church community.
We often hear about not being unequally yoked with non-Christians (2 Corinthians 6:14-16). But you can also be unequal with someone when it comes to spiritual maturity.
Marriage is not only meant to spur each other on towards Christ, but also in the work God has called us to do.
What happens then in the example of a person who is absolutely convicted about doing overseas mission work, while his/her partner does not even seem interested in mission trips?
If you’re single and actively looking for a relationship, I encourage you not to let the criteria of “being a Christian” be your sole deciding factor.
Think about what you are passionate about in God’s kingdom, and consider if your potential boyfriend or girlfriend would be a suitable co-labourer.
Pursue your Master and the mission He has given you, and then your mate!
I like how one writer expressed it in Kallos’ book Real Talk.
“If He needs us to be married for the mission He has planned as part of our destiny, we will be married. If He needs us single, we will be single.
“Singleness may feel like a burden, but marriage is also a burden. We can trust whichever He picks for us is best. A perfectly chosen, well-fitted burden is always light.”
Let’s trust our good Father to provide for all our needs (Philippians 4:19), whether single or married.
We all know that good-hearted person who tries to set us up with people they know.
While they mean well, sometimes it might make us wonder: Can’t I just be single? What if I like my life now?
People often forget that being single brings many advantages (1 Corinthians 7:32-35), such as being able to devote ourselves to God’s work without having to consider how that might affect a spouse or children.
It is a blessing to be content with singlehood indeed!
(P.S. First find out if the person you’re talking to is even interested in meeting someone else. And if you’ve promised to recommend someone, stay true to your word! Don’t say what you don’t mean.)
However, for those of us who are happy with the way things are, it’s also good to consider our motivations for remaining single.
Are you avoiding a relationship because of unforgiveness or the fear of rejection?
Our good Father wants to set us free from all the hurts in our heart. You don’t have to clam up in a bid to protect yourself.
Bring your feelings honestly before God, and let Him do a restorative work in your life.
Surrender your journey to God instead.
The truth is, both singlehood and marriage come with their own set of challenges.
Marriage is complex and difficult, and so is singlehood. We need to walk with God to be able to embrace both well.
To all my friends who are single like me, I encourage you to use this time wisely.
Serve well wherever you are at, surround yourself with community and strive for deeper intimacy with the Lord, struggles and all!
Don’t be easily offended or hurt by the statements above; surrender your journey to God instead.
Don’t be like Rapunzel, who laments in Tangled: “When will my life begin?”
Your life doesn’t begin with a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Your life begins in Jesus alone!
May we echo the words of the psalmist no matter our relationship status: “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” (Psalm 16:2)
Want to learn more about this subject of singlehood? Here are a few other articles for your reading!
- Have you heard such statements before? How did you respond?
- Are you content in God, whether you are single or married?
- How can you find your deepest satisfaction in God?
- Do you know a friend struggling with loneliness? How can you pray for and journey alongside that friend today?