Family gatherings are always filled with fun. They always seem to have the same highlights: elderly relatives talking to you while they have half a mouthful of dinner stuck in their dentures, an awkward moment where you have no idea who somebody is, and those lovely patronizing statements. Of course, those statements aren’t just the purview of family. We all get them from co-workers, friends, and sometimes random strangers.
They mean well, I’m sure, but let’s look at what some of these statements really mean.
“I can’t believe you’re still single”
On the surface, this is a lovely compliment. You’re such a wonderful/beautiful/funny person and an absolute catch.
Really, though, it’s a statement about your failures. It’s a rephrasing of ‘you’re very nice/beautiful/funny, so it’s not any of those things that keep you from getting a guy, so what is it?’ It’s the person saying that they can’t see any obvious reason you’re single, but there’s obviously something you’re doing wrong.
It also has the underlying message that you should just settle. There’s nothing wrong with you, but maybe you’re setting the standards too high.
Often, the best response to this one is a polite nod and a change of subject. If more of a response is needed, you can just give a jovial ‘me too!’ Avoid a reply like ‘I don’t seem to meet the right guys’, as this could open you to months of blind dates arranged by your auntie. Also, as lovely as it might feel, it’s probably best not to reply with ‘I can’t believe you’re still trying to get away with that hair color.’
“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll find somebody.”
Related to the plenty of fish in the sea statement, this one comes along frequently after a break up. It’s meant to be a consolation that your soul mate will come around, so any previous relationships aren’t anything to get hung up on.
It’s the ‘somebody’ that always digs in on this one. It’s never that they’re sure you’ll find the person you’re meant to be with, or that it’s perfectly fine to be single. Nope, it’s that eventually you’ll find some warm body to sit next to you at family gatherings.
The best response to this is also agreement and a change of subject. You can also reply with ‘I’m sure I will, but right now I’m enjoying being single.’ Don’t go with ‘Hopefully they won’t be anything like you.’
“You’re with him?!”
Whichever one of you is meant to be the catch, the statement is intended to tell you that you’re amazing.
Either way, the statement is also telling you that you aren’t in the right relationship. The best case scenario is probably that you could do way better than the guy you’re with. The worst case is that you aren’t good enough to be with the guy you’re with.
For both sides of this nasty little coin, the person is telling you that you obviously don’t know how good you and your boyfriend are, and that you really don’t belong together.
The best response to this is to ignore it. Say ‘yes, and we’re very happy together’ before changing the subject. Don’t reply with an equally snide remark about the person’s own partner, and how he or she might have placed in a prize pig competition last year.
This post was written by Kissy Bang Bang, a company that brings playfulness to sexual health.