Thursday, August 16, 2012

Love Lounge: On alternative answers to that four-word question

It's that dreaded four-word question: Why are you single?

Another, though equally nausea-inducing question: "Are you seeing anyone?"

These questions usually come from well-meaning friends and family. These questions are asked at parties. Over Thanksgiving turkeys. At weddings, as you find yourself catching the bouquet for what seems like the millionth time. Maybe you've heard the question so many times that it doesn't even faze you anymore; though I was asked that very question by my dentist a few years ago, one of those "Are-you-single?" scenarios that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to get over, if only for the sheer creep factor.

But I digress. We're probably so desensitized to the question that we answer it without even thinking about our answer -- or even the question in the first place.

"Are you single?"

That's sort of a loaded question, isn't it? It implies that being single is somewhat the equivalent of wearing the Scarlett Letter and that being in a relationship is the place to be. And, at least for me, I find myself in this inner battle whenever anyone asks me about my relationship status. I feel like I'm trying to justify -- both to the person asking the question and to myself -- the fact that I'm single. So to that end -- and to calm some of that inner turmoil -- I've come up with these three great alternatives to "just being single"...
I'm focusing on my career
This is something women feel the need to apologize for far too often, as if being a career woman is some sort of cardinal sin that should be avoided at all costs. It's not. Going after what you want is probably the most important thing in life, and if you don't go after it for you, who will?

I'm taking time to find myself
I know that some people might think this is akin to taking the easy way out. But if you think about it, isn't it important to sometimes just shut out all that excess noise and focus on what matters most? I've always believed that there's no point in getting to know someone in the romantic sense unless you know yourself.

I'm waiting for the right person
This conveys the message that you're not really into dating just for the sake of dating and that love is something that you hold very sacred. This doesn't mean that you're a prude or a snob when it comes to dating. It just means that you don't give your heart to just anyone. And that is something you should never, ever apologize for.

I understand that it's not a trade-off or even such a black-and-white issue. Of course you can be in a relationship and still focus on your career, but if you're tired of giving a bland "no" in response to what could be an uncomfortable question, I'm all for elaborating just a little bit. Or even better, just say "A relationship isn't something I'm looking for right now" and leave it at that. A nice short and sweet answer.

How would you answer this question, friends? What have you said in the past? Does the question ever make you uncomfortable? What's the oddest place someone has brought up this question? How did you respond? Let's chat! xoxo

[Photos via Le Love]


  1. I used to tell guys that I am a hardcore lesbian, that would shut them up.

    And these days I tell them I am either Asexual or my newest thing is, telling them that I am only attracted to transgender people who let me be the man in bed (I am female) that makes them run faster away than a cobra can bite... :D

  2. Oh, question... The ones you mentioned still work for you? Or are you looking for new ones? :)

    P.S.: The older I get, the more I believe that you have to become more aggressive & outrageous with your answers to shut people up.

  3. Hi Melissa! First of all I love your post. I've never had a serious relationship so I've been hearing that question since I was a teenager, and in my case, followed by "why?". At first I was so embarrassed, later I started to give all kind of excuses, my favorite was: "Being in a couple should make you feel better than single, and I feel great as single so my standard are really high..." ;)
    At some point I didn't care anymore about the question, now I realized no one asks me anymore about it, I think everybody gave up on me! ;)

  4. I have lots of feelings on this one. I was pretty much single until I was 25, and that question hurt a lot when I got it then, because, honestly, I had no idea why I was single! I had lots of friends, a job, hobbies, and I'm pretty fun (if I humbly say so myself), so it felt like there was some hidden thing wrong with me that was scaring off the guys. So, whenever I got asked that then, I would just make some sort of joke about men, while dying on the inside.

    Currently, I just got out of a year and a half relationship, and I'm still a bit raw. When I get asked about my singleness now though, it hurts just because it reminds me of everything I've been going through, but I don't take it as a marker of something being wrong with me. I can honestly say, "I'm not looking for someone right now, as I just got out of a relationship, but I hope to be back on the market when I feel ready." I think my perspective has changed.

    But oh! When married friends ask you this kind of in a weird, smug way...? HATE.

  5. I get asked this question a lot by relatives that I see not as often as others, and it really doesn't bother me. Although I can see where some ask it in a "why in the world I'm not in a relationship" kind of way! To me, when a guy comes along that I'm interested in, cool, I'll get to know him and we'll see where it goes. Honestly, I'm totally immersed in college for the next 10+ years and building my future is more important to me than a guy.

  6. No one has ever asked me these questions, except in an informational way, like asking what I do, but as with most, if not all questions I'm asked, I'd answer with, wait for it, the truth. Are you telling the truth with these answers?

  7. Also, you are clearly projecting your own view that being single is an inferior state. How do you know the question isn't loaded the other way, like, are you single? You are so lucky!

  8. oh, those are clever answers, Pink!! Would definitely shut people up!

  9. Awww, Alex! I like your response about feeling just as great being single...that's so important!

  10. Mandy, i never thought about married people asking, but you're so right!!

    And Anon, that's true! We do bring a lot of our own baggage when it comes to how we feel about this question. xoxo

  11. I think it is up to single girls to change the connotations of the word 'single'. Perhaps its a movie stereotype that all girls are fed up of being single, and so moan about it to their friends, and so it is a negative. Whereas if single people (who are very happy!) show their joys of being independant, it might change peoples ideas.

    On a different note (on such an excellent question and blog post!) sometimes I am curious whether people are taken or not, but is there a good way to ask?

    Please let me know if there is, I dont want to make people feel bad!

  12. I usually gave a jokey answer like, "Well there just aren't enough supermodel billionaires going around! Why, do you know one??"

    I'd maybe say something like, "No, haven't met anybody special" which will be true and sort of implies that you're dating around and will probably end the subject.

  13. I've always said something along the lines of "no one I'm interested in at the moment" since it was usually the truth. I've never asked anyone why they're single and can't imagine doing so, but I do ask people if they're seeing anyone usually just out of a getting-to-know you curiosity or because relationships/dating have naturally come up in the conversation.


Your lovely comments make my day so much sweeter! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello!


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin