It was only five years ago that I was there, in that place as a single woman seeing a future blurred with images of what I hoped to be but wasn’t quite sure would ever truly be. In every conversation I had with friends who were already on the other side living in the clarity of their future with husbands and maybe even children, I begged for reassurance that my day would come too.
Now I’m on the other side of marriage and all that comes with it. Even though I expected my married friends, once upon a time, to give me the perfect advice without being too harsh or judgmental but with just the right amount of encouragement, I can now see how hard it was for them. Because it’s hard for me.
I struggle with being truthful but not harsh. With being hopeful but not unrealistic. With telling them what I really see that they cannot yet see. I struggle with talking to them about the one thing in their lives – singleness – that they need someone to understand to more than anything else.
I know because I needed someone to understand.
But most of the time I am at a loss for words.
I wish I could just pour all of my wisdom from my experiences into their brains and be done with it. I wish I could snap my fingers and make Mr. Right appear before their eyes. I wish I could take all of their loneliness, fear, and worry away from them.
But all I can do is spend time with them, talk to them, love them, and try to understand again.
So how do you talk to your single girlfriends?
1. Validate all of their feelings.
Sometimes with the pressures and strains of marriage we are quick to think, “How bad can it be?” But for a woman whose dream is to one day be a wife and mother it is very lonely, scary, and uncertain. Try not to downplay your single friends’ feelings by telling her that she shouldn’t feel the way she does or that her life really isn’t that bad or that other people have a lot worse circumstances in their lives.
Just listen to her, and admit to her that yes, you too think it’s pretty crummy and you too wish she had all that she hoped for in a marriage and family. Make her feel like her struggles are just as important as your baby not sleeping all night or your husband who you need to help out more or the constant fights you have with your mother-in-law.
2. Try not to speak in clichés.
The first responses we default to when we’re talking to our single friends are the clichés that they hate to hear. “Just stop looking, and he’ll show up”, “God’s timing is always perfect”, “Maybe you’re too picky”, “Don’t try so hard”, “He’ll come when you least expect it”, “God has the perfect person for you, but he’s just not ready yet”.
Yes, there is sometimes a lot of truth to these statements. But single women hear these statements constantly, and they are the same messages they tell themselves over and over too. Instead of speaking in clichés, just truly listen to what they are saying, and then give them honest wisdom and advice as the Holy Spirit leads.
3. Speak in love, not shame.
Single women have a tendency to listen to those dreaded voices that continually tell them that they’re not doing something right or something is wrong with them or they’re being punished or they’re simply not good enough.
Speak truth into your single friends’ lives by reassuring them God has a special purpose for their lives even as a single woman. Tell them that even though there are consequences and sometimes God disciplines us for our actions, singleness in itself is not a sin. God has His best plan in motion for them. Encourage them and help them to see how valuable their lives are now.
4. Ask for wisdom with the hard questions.
The last thing your friends need is to end up in a years-long bad relationship, with past regret, or in an unhealthy marriage because no one spoke up and had the courage to say the hard stuff. But this takes a lot of guidance from the Holy Spirit.
Continually ask God, even in the midst of the conversation, for clarity and wisdom and for the words that your friend needs to hear. It is your responsibility to speak truth to her in a loving manner.
Married friends, single women need your friendship and mentorship more than you know. Please prayerfully consider serving the single women in your life in this way. For more information on what issues single women face, please read my series 31 Days of Peace-Filled Singleness.
What would you add to this list of ways we need to talk to single women?