What NOT to say to single adults during the holidays (or ever) -- A married couple’s guide to party conversation with single adults

Family holiday gatherings often bring an empty feeling for single adults who sometimes feel defined by their marital status. It’s easy to inadvertently upset singles during casual conversations if you aren’t aware of certain landmines to watch out for. 

As a public service to both married and single people, The LDS Matchmaker has polled a variety of singles and created a list of conversation do’s and don’ts to ensure everyone enjoys uplifting holiday conversation.

The following list is comprised of topics and statements that single adults report they hear from married family members and friends on a regular basis. Also included are topics they’d rather discuss instead of hearing unsolicited suggestions about how to fix their obviously broken lives. 

DON’T: Say “I can’t believe you’re still single.” There’s no good way for a single person to respond to this statement without feeling or sounding really uncomfortable.   

DO: Ask your singles about work, travels, hobbies, friends and life in general.  This helps them know you care and are interested in their life.  

DON’T: Ask how their dating life is going. If they’re alone, chances are they probably don’t care to discuss why at a party. Imagine how awkward it might feel if the tables were turned and singles felt fine about pressing married people about their marital relationship or offered unsolicited advice about ways they could improve it.  

DO: Feel free to be interested and ask follow up questions if they volunteer information or want to discuss dating with you.  Be genuinely supportive but not too opinionated unless you fully understand their situation. When sharing your opinions, tread lightly and avoid judgmental or extreme comments. 

DON’T: Tell a single person you “understand,” even if you were single for (what you think was) a long time.  Everyone’s circumstances are different. Telling someone you understand often frustrates or irritates them.  

DO: Offer empathy. Tell them you want to understand and/or help. Meeting the right kind of people can be very difficult. Commiseration is helpful along with inspiration and insights about why marriage to the right person is worth the wait. 

DON’T: Tell a single person they’re being too picky (even if they are). What they’ll hear is…“I don’t think you’re worthy of the high standards you’re seeking”. Or…”Don’t you think it’s time to lower your standards a bit?” They’ll assume you’re telling them it’s time to settle for what they can get.  

DO: Reaffirm that you’re not worried about their future. Knowing your friends and family believe in you and have faith in your future (even if it takes some extra time to work itself out) is very reassuring. If they get this affirmation from you, chances are they’ll look to you in the future for advice or understanding.   

DON’T: Ask them if they have tried _______ (insert new age dating method here). Singles generally understand what approaches are out there. You won’t be the first one to tell them about Tinder, Matchmakers, or online dating. They already know.   

DO: Accept their decisions.  Chances are they have a good reason for not pursuing certain people or dating methods.  Going through the dating process is hard enough without friends or family second-guessing or questioning their rationale.  If they want to discuss various dating methods with you, offer to provide support and assistance if you feel qualified (but don’t be offended if they decline). 

DON’T: Tell single people you’re jealous their lifestyle affords opportunities to pursue travel or extravagant hobbies. They probably won’t appreciate the insinuation that having time and resources to participate in such activities is a comparable substitute for having a spouse or family. 

DO: Invite single people to be a part of your life.  Make plans to spend time, play games, travel or have shared experiences with single people.  With or without a partner, singles want to be included in your life and in fun, happy events.

DON’T: Tell a woman (or man) that if they’re not given the opportunity to marry in this life that they’ll be afforded the opportunity in the next life.  This is not a helpful or hopeful phrase for someone in the dating pool. It’s better to stick to talking about the weather.    

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The LDS Matchmaker specializes in helping singles identify and overcome obstacles that have kept them from finding lasting love. Dating experts provide insight, ideas and specialized services that help clients make progress toward making marriage a reality.  Singles who are ready to discuss how to get their love life headed in the right direction can schedule a Dating Strategy Session with The LDS Matchmaker. Contact us at info@LDSMatchmaker.org or by calling 801-495-1000.  See our Special Holiday Offers here.