5 Unhelpful Things People Say to Older Single Girls

5 Unhelpful Things People Say to Older Single Girls

Why isn’t a great girl like you married?

Somebody please enlighten me to what on earth a person should reply to this comment, because I’ve never been able to figure it out. What is she supposed to say, “I’m just too intimidating and awesome for any man to handle?” Can we just acknowledge what an awkward position it puts the questionee in?

Anything referencing being an old maid.

“Old Maid” is a dirty term, conjuring up images of knitting needles and desperation and tight knobs of hair on the napes of necks, stuck through with pencils. “Bachelor” doesn’t have nearly the same connotation, I don’t know why. A bachelor can be dashing and debonair and dapper, but call somebody an old maid and she’s relegated to a bony life in a wooden rocking chair, snapping at the children who dare run across her lawn. If a girl wants to call herself an old maid, fine and good, she has that right. But you shouldn’t ever do it for her.

You’re really missing out; married life is awesome.

Okay, this is actually a gray area, because I do want my married friends to be happy in their marriages, and I want them to feel free to express that happiness to me. But you know, it’s also kind of nice to hear on occasion the things that you miss about being single, and don’t try to tell me there aren’t any. Telling a single girl that she should get married isn’t exactly helpful to her cause. If you really think she should get married, introduce her to your bachelor friends instead (with her consent of course). Love with shoes on, and all that jazz.

But you know _____; as soon as she stopped looking, the right guy came along. 

Give me a story like that, and I can give you three of girls who stopped looking time after time, and nothing changed. Girls who are accomplished and beautiful and not even a little bit desperate, who continue to be single, year after year. Also, let’s use a little common sense. How are you supposed to stop looking, in order for a man to come along? It’s like the song that says, “You don’t know you’re beautiful, that’s what makes you beautiful.” In telling the girl that, haven’t you just informed her that she’s beautiful, in essence making her ugly? It’s the same way with singlehood- you can’t stop looking or surrender or whatever term you want to use, just so the very thing you’re “not looking for” comes along.

You’re just too picky.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Stop. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. In essence, what you are saying by telling a girl this is that she should settle- that marriage is the ultimate thing to accomplish and that she should lower her standards to get there if that’s what it takes. Nopety nope nope.

First of all, marriage is not the holy grail of life which should be achieved by any means possible. Also, I think people who are unhappily married are much more unhappy than singles who wish to be married someday, don’t you?

If what you mean by this phrase is that you shouldn’t be looking only for a guy who is exactly 6’2″ with a sparkling smile who works in design and has African orphans in his profile pictures and who models sportswear on the side, then I agree with you, but I can assure you that the thirty-year-old single girls who hold such unrealistic ideals are few and far between. In my experience, specific looks and careers aren’t that important at that age. And as for compromising character ideals, why would you want any girl to do that?


Bonus- I asked Instagram and my friends what they would say add to the list. Here are their contributions.

“‘But he’s so nice!’ (So is half the world’s population, Aunt Jan. I can’t marry them all, can I?)”

“God saves the best for last.”

“You just need a good man to take care of you.”

“I hate when people try to encourage girls with the promise of marriage, as if our lives have no meaning outside of marriage. As if it isn’t possible to live a fulfilling life as a single woman. Don’t promise a woman marriage when trying to encourage her. That’s too small. Tell her God will use her life for His glory. Single or not.”

“You should get married, you’re starting to look…old.”

“He’s single and you’re single and you should just get together so that you both don’t have to be lonely. I’m sure you’ll fall in love with each other eventually.”

“Why don’t you get yourself a man?”

“You’re so pretty. What’s wrong with the guys now days, they must be blind!”

“Something to not say to a single girl at a wedding or when someone announces a new relationship: ‘You’ll be next!'”

“‘Someday you’ll find your other half.’ Excuse me, I’m all one piece right now.'”

“When your older siblings get married and they’re all like, ‘Don’t you worry, you’ll be next!’ Um, I’m not worried, honey.”

“Let Jesus be your boyfriend, He’s all you’ll ever need.” (Of course, not disagreeing with the latter part of that statement, but mashing those two concepts together seems a little hypocritical when usually coming from someone who is posting mushy Valentine’s day photos all over social media.)


A Year Ago:

Why I Started Blogging

On Looking Forward To Summer

29 thoughts on “5 Unhelpful Things People Say to Older Single Girls

  1. I disagree with some of these. I was married very late in life, so I dealt with a lot of these myself.

    We have to learn to be gracious and see the heart of people. When people say “You’really too pretty to be single!” They are trying to give you a compliment. Yes, it may sting for SOME single women, but I honestly appreciated those compliments. I spent years thinking something was wrong with me because I couldn’t find someone who wanted to spend time with me. It was nice to be reminded by older people that I wasn’t hideous or cruel or annoying. I just hadn’t met someone who was a good fit.

    I think we get a lot of these posts “what not to say to your pregnant friend”, “The worst comments to make to your infertile friend”, “The worst comments to make to your dog loving friend”. I, for one, just wish people would make a post on “How to let go of minor irritations in life and embrace the relationships you have.”

    Because, in the end, whether you are married or single or a mother or infertile or a dog lover or a cat lover or a business woman or unemployed or WHATEVER, we are all just people who are trying to find ways to relate to other people. We are going to mess up. That’s okay. We are going to sa stupid stuff. That’s okay, too.

    Let’s build a society where people learn to forgive each other and look ato the intention rather than focus on our own insecurities and hurts.

    I get it. Being single in your 30s stinks. But like you pointed out, everyone is walking a life with challenges and hardships. Let’s just acknowledge that our friends and family probably aren’t trying to hurt us and move on!

    1. Hey Sarah, you may be surprised when I tell you I actually agree with the gist of what you’re saying. I too would love a world in which nobody takes anything wrong. Definitely write that post you want to see, I’d like to read it.
      That said, this post wasn’t intended to throw anyone under the bus (okay, maybe one or two people. 😀 ) It was more of an attempt to open people’s eyes to what it sounds like from a single’s perspective, and to provide a few laughs. I know that I like to know about things I say that could potentially be hurtful to people in other situations.
      I love being single, and I’m lucky to have a lot of married friends that do treat me well.
      Thanks for reading Striped Pineapple, and for your thoughts!

  2. Your answers are spot on. I’m on a unique path (coming from our background) where I’m a divorced single mom. It’s quite interesting. As time has gone on, it stopped feeling “like the end of the world” or “poor me” or some such nonsense. Of course, it’s not an ideal thing that people plan for, but ANY path can be empowering if you find the purpose in it and let God repurpose it. It’s hard for me to look back and see how needy and victim-minded I used to be, especially when life didn’t go the way I expected. Sometimes I want to slap myself upside the head, but mostly I want to sit beside me and show me a mirror that reflects back to me the powerful purpose God sees when he looks at me. I want to show her what just a bit more wholeness feels like. I want to get her to be creative and compassionate sooner.

    But here’s another solution single people could consider: move to a country like Japan, where the average marrying age is in the 30s. Where there are more single people than married people. Where people have hobbies and interests and culture doesn’t put a giant emphasis on needing to be married or to procreate. Also, urban areas seem to have lots of older single people who work hard in their creative careers and seem content with their lives and friendships. That’s so refreshing for me to see.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Meg. Your journey has been lovely to watch from afar, and I love how enriched the life you’ve created is.
      I’m also loving the “move to Japan” idea. By all means, I’ll take it! 😀

  3. By FAR the best post yet! I loved every single bit of it.
    I got married at 25, and have two children. I still get all upset hearing some well meaning people’s remarks to single friends. Like, seriously?
    I LOVE being married, and I wouldn’t trade it. But I LOVED being single as well, and I wouldn’t trade it, not even a day. 🙂
    Having experienced both, I say they are both wonderful! Neither situation would qualify to me as having “arrived.” Sure, some may prefer one above the other for a variety of reasons, but still, neither of them is the “pinnacle” of life.
    Being at a place of Joyful Peace in either situation, is what it’s all about! 😉
    There are so many of these cliche comments made to newly married couples, first time Moms, missionaries, and, well, so many situations that are unfounded, ridiculous, and plain rude. Thanks for the reminder to all of us to not fall into these “normal” ways of stereotyping humanity. 🙂

  4. P.s. another reply to your 1st question… because I never stood w a guy in front of a preacher or judge and said I do 😉

  5. Yes! Yes! And YES! Please stand on the mountain top with a loud speaker and proclaim this to one and all!! (On 2nd thought, maybe that’s what a blog does?! 🙂 ) In answer to your 1st question… because the right guy hasn’t come along yet! 🙂
    Why do married people think it’s ok to ask singles intensely personal questions??? I hesitate to tell new aquantences that I’m single. Why? Because I don’t want to be immediately (in their minds) stereotyped/ defined by it, and promptly put into a box labeled with lots of negative adjectives. That, and the above mentioned questions. I am, first and foremost, a female human being with feelings who “happens ” to be single. I’m a strong believer in living life to the fullest regardless of circumstances. And have been told, “You’re having too much fun. A guy is gonna be scared to step into that.” ( in other words, you need to be more needy) What?!! Pining away, getting grumpy and “moldy” and sitting around waiting for Mr Right to show up is more attractive??! Why is it o.k. for a married lady to audible wish to me for the pros of being single, but if I wish to be married, I am either discontent or desperate, and need to learn to be satisfied with my lot in life? Anyway, enough of my ranting, but you hit a nerve with this (in a good way 😉 ) I have been a silent reader for awhile now. Enjoying the interesting mix of topics, being a lover of books and travel as well. It was even more interesting after I figured out who your parents are, and remembering them and your older siblings from San Marcos Honduras years ago. 🙂 I was young, so it’s kind of a hazy memory. But I did recognized them in a family pic you posted.

    1. Someone seriously told you you shouldn’t have so much fun? Oh my goodness, that raises my hackles. It’s also a pet peeve of mine that our culture doesn’t feel it acceptable to actually want to get married. I do think that’s changing for the better though.
      I’m so fascinated you were in San Marcos with us. I barely remember it at all, but I do recall a few little girls, so I wonder if you were one of them.

    2. You know, the type of men that are only attracted to women who are needy aren’t whole themselves. And worse, that type tends to have narcissist tendencies. I’m watched a couple of my friends that live joyful, confident and free — they attract a completely different caliber of man. A real man. 😉

      Keep having fun!

      1. I agree our culture is more excepting then it was, which is a good thing. And I am very blessed to be in a church that is especially excepting of singles. 🙂 Our family was in San Marcus in the spring (in the US:) ) of 1989. I doubt you were in existence then, n if so I hope I didn’t do anything dramatic enough to imprint it on your young mind. 🙂

        1. Oh dear! That was supposed to say a church that is especially ACCEPTING of singles. Wow, what a difference one word can make! How about a follow up post on “Encouraging things to say to single ladies” 🙂

  6. This is so good, Rachel! It’s always bothered me if people, single or married, look at marriage as some type of arrival. I love telling girls to enjoy their single days to the hilt, because that will enable them to always be fulfilled and enjoy life, whether married or not. Life is life… no matter your marital status. It’s so beautiful to be able to enjoy every phase equally. There are a zillion things single gals can do that a wife and mommy cannot. Go do them and delight in every minute. You will never regret happiness and joy before marriage… if you ever do get married, that joy will follow you right into that stage. I can’t remember any part where I didn’t love it… of course I wanted to get married, but life was full of joy, too. Now, I have a bit of trepidation about my babies all grown up and leaving. But I know the new phase can be equally joyful, just like always. Sorry for the dumb things people say. I kinda feel sad for them if that’s how they view life. What is their own like?
    PS. Your humor is delightful.

    1. I love this. If you choose joy, it will follow you into whatever stage of life you’re in. I see that in your life. (P.S. Thank you!)

  7. This is funny and disturbing both. Why is it so hard for people to connect on a level unrelated to martial status? As a married woman who spends half the weekends of the year solo, due to my husband’s work, I know the shadowy world of the attached and unattached. Did you know the whole world socializes on weekends? Do you go to weddings and funerals alone? Who do you sit beside at social events? Maybe it would be smarter to stay home with your offspring and not let on that you are bored out of your wits? I tell myself over and over, “Just smile and wave. They know not what they say.” But it’s hard not to trot out my snarky replies to well meaning comments. (No, I am not much braver than you are. I wouldn’t choose this weirdness, but it is what it is. And for Pete’s sake, stop pitying me! Can we talk about the weather now? )

    1. I can see how your situation is a similar disconnect to what a single girl faces. It does seem to be a struggle for the world in general to connect with people in a different status than themselves. I know it is for me. That said, I somehow connect with your writing so much even though we’re in completely different stages of life. 🙂 (P.S. If you trot out your snarky comments, I want to hear. I admit I love a well aimed bit of snark.)

      1. So… been thinking about this. I have a friend who is grieving the loss of a child, and one day she shared a list of things well-meaning people say. I listened, and I knew I have said some of those things. It was good for me to realize how easily I can mis-speak or misunderstand, all while sincerely caring about the other person.

  8. This has kind of been an ongoing discussion between some of my friends, (obviously not the being single part) but the part where people dont know how to deal with different, or we get stuck in the rut of saying certian ‘Sayings’ without thinking about how it really sounds or what your saying.
    Like just ‘wait untill you have been married awhile and that honeymoon stage will wear off’.
    Or my personal fav ‘wait until you have kids and you will see’.
    See what? that being a mom can be hard? well so can being single, being infertile, or any stage of life, but its our chose and how we make and maybe we should choose to speak life instead of just being awkward about it:)
    Sorry not to jump on your single band wagon, but it reminded me of my pet peev of how people just say things to fill up space!

    1. Yes, thank you for your comment! That last sentence is gold- “People just say things to fill up space.” I think practicing how NOT to do that would be a valuable effort to undertake for all of us.

  9. How do you feel about the descriptive word spinster? To me it sounds derogatory, I hadn’t heard it much until moving to this area. I’m asking because I cringe when I hear it!

    I really appreciate this post. As one who married young (18) I have 5 daughters and know the Lord will not have the same plan for them that he had for me. I’ve been thinking about some of these things in my own life, and wondering how, if it is my daughter, to walk in this with grace and love.. I wish people would treat singles (and widows and everyone really!) As if they saw them as a whole created person, not someone that is half of something that has not come along yet.

    1. I think spinster has the same connotation as old maid, just a step worse. As for how people treat singles, I suppose it will have to boil down to being the change we wish to see, and maybe the general culture will follow. I think it’s great that you want to empower your daughters to live fulfilled lives in whatever state they find themselves. Really, being single is pretty wonderful.

  10. Yep, I’ve heard most of these too. Personally, being called an Old Maid doesn’t bother me. Hey, it’s the truth — I’m not a wife or a widow, so I’m a maid; I’m not 16 so I’m old. Fine. Old Maid. The term I detest instead is Leftover Blessings. Excuse me? God don’t make junk and I’m no one’s leftovers! Like someone else said up there, I’m all one piece already!

    All the same, I don’t want to come across as a marriage-basher. I do believe God instituted marriage, that it’s good, and that most people eventually get married. Praise the Lord. I love them too. But for those of us who aren’t, can we keep on living as well?

  11. I’ve heard basically all of those. The one I hated the worst was being told I was almost on the shelf and it would take a miracle for a man to find me.

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