As a dating coach, many clients come to me wanting to find that perfect partner, that person who makes them no longer want to be on the market, that "one." They tell me that they have had relationships in the past that haven't worked out for one reason or another. Or, they tell me that they have had that magical romance only to have lost their loved ones too soon. Whatever the circumstance—and everyone has a story—they hire me to help them navigate the murky waters of dating in the hopes of finding the right fit.
It's funny how things can change so quickly. We all have that friend who is perpetually single, and then one day he or she meets the new love of his or her life, and the next thing you know, they become a "we" rather than an "I" plus "I." And so many times, these newly coupled friends forget what it's like to be on the other end—single and looking.
Wherever you are in your relationship, it's important to remember that everyone is on his or her own journey, and some people spend more time in certain chapters of their lives than others. I'm here to remind the happy couples that the singles out there, especially in the wake of Valentine's Day, need a special kind of friend, and there are certain things you can say or ask that will likely rub them the wrong way. I want to share the top five things that you should not ask your single friends or relatives:
1. You're such a catch! How hasn't anyone snatched you up yet?
I attended a Valentine's Day party this past weekend because my company was one of the sponsors. As I walked in, this older gentleman who knew absolutely nothing about me said, "You're too beautiful to be single." While on the surface this may seem like a compliment (I said a polite "thanks"), the actual implication is, "What's wrong with you?" This question puts undue pressure on that person, and no one likes being put on the defensive. If you want to give a real compliment, instead say, "I feel lucky to have you in my life" or simply, "You're beautiful."
2. Do you think you're too picky or you don't give people a chance?
Everyone has standards. It's up to your friend to decide what his or her non-negotiables are. There are nicer ways to ask this question, like "What are you looking for in a partner?"
3. Why are you still single?
It's the word "still" here that is the most irksome. Adding the word "still" makes this question sound like there is only one thing in life that people aspire to—not being single. There are so many singles out there who want nothing more than to be independent, and a relationship is the furthest thing from their mind. That's a choice that I truly respect, and no one should make you feel guilty for making it. Let's remove the word "still" from single. Always. Period.
4. Do you think you're afraid of commitment?
If the answer is "yes," then what do you say next? Do you have a solution? And if it's "no," then it just makes the person feel worse. Plus, the question may bring up painful issues from the past.
5. Maybe love will come when you least expect it?
Because of my job, I have to refute this one. Dating isn't easy, which many people don't realize. For example, when it comes to online dating, many people think they can just throw a profile up there and wait. That's like signing up for a gym but never setting your tuchus down on a bike. It's just not going to work. Most things that matter in life—jobs, fitness, and even the pursuit of love—take work. It's always worth it to give something the old college try.
So, if you're in coupled bliss, enjoy it! Heck, revel in it! But when it comes to your friends and loved ones, remember that everyone moves at a different pace, and everyone makes different decisions about how to spend their lives. There's no one "right" choice. You simply make the choice that's best for you. Respect that in others, and hopefully they'll do the same for you.