Rules of Engagement

Rules of Engagement

Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,27 January 2015

It’s that time of year again. The lead-up to Valentine’s Day typically finds me drinking (too much) whiskey and/or red wine and singing “I Can’t Make You Love Me” or (God help me) “All by Myself” in a depressing and off-key manner. Meanwhile my faithful, furry friend rolls his eyes at my pitifulness. So it’s only fitting to kick off this terrible VD season with hearing one of my least appealing coworkers say, “It doesn’t matter how old you are. If you don’t have children, you’re selfish. You don’t know how to take care of other people.” Granted this was from the mouth of a non-uterus haver who feels the need to vocally expound on the evils of birth control and abortion in the office, but still. The urge to kick him in the head was almost irresistible.

With that harrowing experience in mind, let’s establish Rules of Engagement for speaking to singletons when you are not one. It should be completely obvious unless you have the brain power of a sack of hair but here are some of the pugnacious phrases you should avoid:

1. You are selfish/have it easy.  Speaking for my fellow singletons, we generally don’t presume to know the joys and worries of having children or being in a long-term relationship. So why in the name of all that is unholy do you presume to know what our lives are like? Because you were single years ago? Puh-lease. Attend your 20th wedding without a plus one or go to any gender reveal parties/sprinkles, etc. as the only childless spinster. Then come talk to us. You may have to run your child from hockey to soccer to the school play, but how dare you think that because someone is single they don’t have any responsibilities, cares or worries.

2. When are you finally going to settle down/how have you not found someone yet? Great question! Hmmm…maybe when you remove the sympathetic and yet self-satisfied smile from your face. Trust me, there is no way you can spend more time or mental energy thinking of the why’s and wherefore’s  of our perpetual singletonness than we have. Maybe, as we fear in the darkest and saddest part of ourselves, there’s something terribly wrong with us that all prospective suitors can see like a neon sign in the desert? Or maybe because we actually know and like ourselves and that scares the bejeezus out of those prospective suitors? It’s a mystery. We’re not asking for you to solve it.

3. You just haven’t met the right guy/girl yet. This is something people feel the need to tell their friends and family who are without plus ones in their 20’s. The thing is, once you slide precipitously past 35, you start hearing it less and less. It annoyed you before because it seemed like the winner patting the runner-up on the head but now the absence of it makes you think you may have met “the one” and didn’t realize it. Or there’s no “the one” for you.

But most of all, don’t forget about us. We know that we can no more say this to you directly than we can offer an opinion on childrearing but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when you’ve moved on to newer friends, ready equipped with spouse and kids. We’re the ones who were there for you before you found your “one.” And we’re the ones who’ll be here after your “one,” should it come to that. Your schedules grow crazier with each kid but spare a moment or two for the friends who’ve been there for you and will be there for you no matter what comes.


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