How to Love on Singles

In Advice and Encouragement, Relationships, Single by Debra Fileta17 Comments

The last article from #TheSingleLife Series, “An Open Letter to Singles: You Need Married Friends”, stirred some great conversation and responses from singles all over the country who both identified with, or conversely, experienced discouragement trying to engage in friendships with married people.

According to my single readers, to say that singles and married people should be friends is a lot easier said than done.  With all the feedback I received regarding how flat out discouraged some singles feel from the community around them, I put out a question to my single readers asking how best we can encourage them during this time in their lives.

While the feedback has been hard to hear, it’s also been so refreshing and a good reminder that at the end of the day, a little love really does go a long, long way.   So to all the married people out there, here are some ways that we can all connect with, encourage, and love on our single brothers and sisters:

Validate Them:  From all the feedback I gathered from single young men and women across the country, one thing stood out to me more than the all rest: People need validation.  There is so much truth in that statement whether a person is married, single, or somewhere in between.  As humans, we long to be validated- to be looked upon as though we are worthy and valuable; as though our lives have meaning.

Sadly, and no thanks to our society at large, too often this value gets attached to our relationship status.  Those who find themselves standing alone end up feeling less than the others in some way, shape, or form.  It’s important to validate our brothers and sisters in Christ by focusing far less on whom they are in relationship with, and far more on who God has called them to be— standing alone.  It’s time for us to stop seeing singleness as a disease, and instead, encourage our single friends by repeating and reminding them of how valuable they are right here, right now, no strings (or spouses) attached.

Encourage Them:  Of all the phrases uttered to single young men and women, most of them are a reminder of what they do not have- rather than a spotlight on who they are.  One of the most important ways we can love on singles is reminding them that they are special- and that we (the world around them) have taken notice.  I think sometimes non-single (whether married, dating, etc.) friends-  particularly in relationship with the opposite sex- find it awkward to encourage the singles in their lives because they don’t want to come across inappropriate or send mixed messages. While of course we need to have wisdom in how we address the people around us, it’s important for us to remember that everyone needs to be encouraged!

Notice their strengths, talents, skills, and personalities and let them know.  We are all made in the image of God, and it is crucial to notice that image, and call it out in the lives of the people around us.  Let’s never let someone’s relationship status inhibit us from seeing the beauty and wonder of who God has made them to be.  So go on, encourage the heck out of your single brothers and sisters!

Invite Them:  We’ve all been there- the moment when you realize that someone has just been dubbed the “third wheel”.  As a married woman, I myself have found myself struggling with this issue- not wanting my single friends to feel like a third wheel around my husband and I.  So instead of facing what could be an awkward situation, most people avoid it.

But I believe that dealing with singles in this avoidant way is a tactic straight from the pit of hell.

The enemy longs for us to feel alone and outside of community, and the way this happens within the church is when people go off two by two, forgetting to include those who aren’t in “a relationship” are still part of this valuable community called the body of Christ.

One of the best ways you can love on your single friends is by inviting them into your homes, and embracing them into your worlds.  Don’t let your personal fear of them feeling like “a third wheel” rob them of the chance to accept an invitation to invest in your life and you in theirs, because there is so much value in learning from them and allowing them to learn from you.  Leave that choice up to them.  Open your hearts by opening your homes and being a place that reflects the love of Jesus to all who enter- no matter their relationship status.

Engage Them:  I think there is a natural tendency to try and make conversation with singles by talking about their singleness.  “So, you seeing anyone?”  “How’s the love life going these days?”  While I think that there is a time and place for these conversations (trust me…I’m all about this when the timing is right!) I think it’s crucial to make it a point to go above and beyond with our conversations, by focusing on the bigger picture.  Ask them what God is doing in their lives and share with them what He’s doing in yours.  Tell them about your struggles and trials, and ask how you can be praying for them.  Share with them your heart, and then allow them to take the lead in sharing theirs.  Do them the favor of remembering that they are people who are not defined by their relationship status, but rather by the One that they are ultimately in relationship with- Jesus.

It’s important for us to remember that single or married, we are all on this journey together.  

Rather than isolating and devaluing our brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be the ones to speak value, life, and encouragement into their lives in a world that can sometimes be lacking.  Let us learn to love on the singles in our lives in the best way we know how, and by doing so, give them a chance to love on us.

It’s time to do community the right way.  It’s time to practically live out what it means to be the body of Christ- a place where the only relationship that matters, is the one we have with Jesus.

Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. Her newest relationship book is set to be released in the Summer of 2018! You may also recognize her voice from her 200+ articles at Relevant Magazine, Crosswalk.com, and all over the web! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog!  Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!

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Comments

  1. The most bizarre response I got was being seen as a threat. An innocent chat to a female friends husband is seen as potential seduction. What follows is usually an overt display of affection from the wife to the confused husband. I know it’s her issue, but it still hurts to have my integrity questioned by someone I’ve opened myself up to in friendship. But I wish I could remind them that 1. I’m too busy setting my heart on my Heavenly Prince Authentic to worry about chasing an Earthly Prince Charming. 2. LOOK AT ME! I’m many things, but femme fatale is NOT one of them! I am no Jessica Rabbit! But what I would really love is a woman’s conference based on the theme “it is better to be single”. Maybe then we would not be seen as the pathetic princesses in the tower to be pitied and more the spiritual power houses we are/could be.

    1. How disheartening! Even people in dating relationships become territorial – heck, as a single, I can get that way about friends – when they feel insecure.

      I LOVE your idea about a singles conference! How amazing would it be to bring all these single women together to empower and lift up one another? We do need affirmation and validation from BOTH sexes – and heaven knows, in my life, I have one male friend in particular who isterrible at affirming and validating me as a woman and a friend – but there is something about a group of women together, speaking truth and love into each other’s lives.

    2. Author

      Maybe you should get a conference together, Karen! What a great idea! Some of the best events I’ve spoken at were actually pulled together by a few individuals who wanted to share a message. You never know what God can do through your passion. Thanks for sharing such great insight!

  2. Thank you very much for this post. I would add:

    1. Use your words for good: pray for the single people in your life or church rather than putting them down and talking about how terrible they all are. It only takes a few moments and can be added when you offer up prayers for the married folks in your church. If the single people you know really are that awful, pray for God to work on their hearts and minds.

    2. Recognize and respect our different stories: Acknowledge that we have learned some things you might not know because we have had different experiences. Don’t assume you know better just because you are married.

  3. Totally *heart*this article. Thanks for the validation and listening to us! 🙂

  4. Very good article and an important issue to talk about. Thank you for this blog and the great topics discussed.
    I for one as a single have found that friends that look beyond my relationship status and look at who I am and care about who I am ( my joys, my struggles) and invite me into their lives- their struggles, their joys -do not make me feel like an oddity.
    The so called friends that get married and become insecure, seeing me as a competition or as someone who has not achieved what they consider a higher calling of marriage are those who have disappointed me the most. They are all about their husbands and do not have time for their single friends anymore, you can sense the awkwardness, the pity, they just want to be around married people like them and spend time talking about being married.
    I feel sorry for them because this is not what life is all about, it is about our mission, God’s calling and plan for our lives and our eternal future home where we would be with Jesus, and not be married or couples, but individuals before the throne of God.
    I also know that the image of happiness which they protray is not always true. But why pretend. I value more the honesty I recieve from the friends I first described.
    Funny enough the second description of people is what I have found most from fellow christians, which has been disappointing for me.
    I guess it is the heart of the person that counts and the genuiness from where they are coming from , if they really care about you or not. It is also the value or the importance they have placed on being married and their pride about their relationship status. It is also the fact that they are not secure in who they are as an individual person inside or outside a relationship.
    This is just my experience about the issue.
    To know me is to know, yes I am single, but more importantly I am a child of God, and I desire to fullfill His will and purpose for me, however He has equiped and provided for me to do so. I am secure in God’s love for me and He does strengthen us and encourage us through this journey called life.

  5. Just like single people can learn from married people, married people can learn from single people, as well. Just like single people need married friends, married people need single friends too. We need each other. We need to walk in real Christ-like love with one other, both single and married. We need to lay down our lives for one another. God wants to use each other in the Body of Christ, to meet each other’s needs, loving one another the way Christ loves us. This will be a great testimony to unbelievers (John 13:35).

    It is interesting, when Jesus lived on earth, He was single. Our Saviour, Redeemer and Lord, lived His earthly life as a single person, yet, single people, are many times, devalued in the church. Our mindset in the church needs to change, when it comes to singleness. We need to have a biblical perspective on singleness and marriage. Just like marriage and family are very important to God, single people are a very important part of the Body of the Christ.

    Thank you, Debra. This is a good article. I like the point that you made that avoiding or ignoring single people is not loving them. Excluding and isolating people from God’s family is a tactic that Satan uses to destroy believers. We need to guard and fight against this tactic of the Enemy. You are right, Debra, it’s time to do community the right way, God’s way. It’s true, the relationship that only really matters is our relationship with Jesus. Our worth and value is found in Christ alone.

  6. I actually wrote two blogs on this very topic myself. One of them was how singles can love on married couples and the other how married couples can love on singles. They were more geared towards people in the mission’s field, but in reality it works for everyone. Let’s meet people where they are, not where we think they should be.

    1. Do share, Jacob! I’d love to read it and hear a fresh perspective, especially as it relates to those in long term missions. And I agree with your appeal for us to meet people where they are. I was just sharing with friends in our Bible study my desire for the Body of Christ to grow in being able to accept and support each other individually in the season God has us in, while preparing for, standing firm in hope and trusting God to bring us to the next season…again accepting His will. “…to prosper and not harm” Jer. 29:11

      1. I don’t want to use this blog post just to publicize my own site (which I kind of did earlier, oops!), but if Debra says it is ok, I will share the links.

        1. Author

          Jacob, email me the article about “how singles can encourage married people” – that could be a good follow up to this article 🙂

  7. Thank you for that, Debra. I do feel like a third wheel, when i’m with a married couple. And society and people look on us who are still single, like something’s wrong.

  8. Thank you so much for the encouraging words Debra. Greatly appreciated.

  9. I love this. And l love you Mama for your unique understanding. More grace.

  10. Everyone above makes very good points.

    Dating isn’t easy. As a single, unattached male, 56, good job, great shape and a homeowner (none of that really matters), it’s tough. My friends are married, most with adult kids or high school or college-aged kids. Time is spent with wives and families – or with married friends. I don’t have but a handful of single male friends…period – my age , older or younger. Most of my “band of brothers” in my men’s groups are older guys, but married.

    We definitely need validation as singles and to be accepted by our married friends. Whether single by choice or looking for that special person, God has made us all special – regardless of our marital status.

  11. My problem as a single woman with many friends who are in a relationship is not so much being the third wheel – I can cope with that! – but feeling rather that I am intruding on time they could be having alone. Most of my friends are great at being inclusive but I somehow still manage to feel as though they’d rather not have me there even though they’ve given no indication of that. I think it’s all in my head, but it’s a hard feeling to dismiss!

  12. I would add celebrate with them when they achieve. Often single people are doing other things with their time and have achievements that go with that like promotions, continued education, milestones set in volunteer work, meeting personal goals, etc. They often don’t get showers and parties thrown for them in those moments, but go to the showers and parties for their coupled up friends (and bring gifts) repeatedly. Singles, in many cases feel it’s narcissistic or self-centered to thrown their celebration so offering to take the lead on that, or just taking them to dinner, would be very meaningful.

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