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Helping Your Single Friends

Helping Your Single Friends

For starters, stop calling them “single.”


I came across the following story in a friend’s Facebook status the other day:

I experienced the most frustrating situation today. I was walking by a restaurant and saw an old man lying on the sidewalk, clearly recently collapsed, with his cane by his side. Three people were having an outdoor lunch and were sort of staring askance at him, saying things to passersby like, "We are just trying to have lunch," and, "We called an ambulance, that's all we're supposed to do."

Apparently, it never occurred to anyone to talk to him. Like humans do. I'm really not saying this to disparage the people who were eating lunch (no doubt they were a bit shocked and uncertain how to proceed) but just to remember, in these situations, to put ourselves in the person's place and act accordingly.

It's pretty easy to then realize that all you would want, in his situation, is for someone to sit down next to you, maybe say a few kind words, and assure you that help is on the way. This is not rocket science. This is basic human decency.

That message: “put ourselves in the person’s place and act accordingly” is so simple, and so powerful.

Keeping this scenario in mind, let’s discuss being a friend to someone who is not yet married. Notice that I referred to your friend as “not yet married,” and not as “single.” Based on my experience, many of them are tired of being referred to as “single.” Would you always refer to your unemployed friend as “jobless”? ‘Hi, I’d like to introduce you to my jobless friend, Joe.’

“I feel like someone’s next project rather than their friend.”

But we do have a tendency to introduce people as ‘my single friend, Joe.’ While we’d like to help Joe find a wife, I think our sensitivity needs to be heightened. All too often I hear from those searching for their soul mates that they feel mistreated. A top complaint is that friends don’t relate to them as a person anymore. “I feel like someone’s next project rather than their friend.” Whether someone is helpless, jobless or single, let’s remember that they are more than just those things. Not only are they human, they are a soul, a spark of the divine. Let’s not needlessly categorize one another.

Understanding how to think about (and refer to) our friends searching for their soul mates is one thing, but understanding how to act is another. What do we say to them and how do we help them? Can we even talk about dating? How do we know if they want to talk about dating? I have another Facebook post that offers some guidance:

When I walk around the city, I always have an apple to offer to anyone who asks for money or food (even when they don't ask). I was on the subway without my usual bags. A woman entered the train. Her sweet-voiced plea was for food or any change because she was homeless and pregnant. As she approached where I sat, I told her the truth: "I have nothing but a piece of plastic on me. When the train stops, I'd like to give you a hug if you'll let me."

The woman stopped and smiled. She nodded her head affirmingly. The train stopped. I rushed towards her to catch her before she exited. She stopped. We hugged each other. She said, "God bless you, sister," and exited the train.

I think there are two things to take away from this story. This person carries a just-in-case apple! Learn to be prepared. It’s not only a smart move; it helps you stay compassionate and thoughtful. Carrying an apple shows that she has given forethought and made effort even before meeting the soon-to-be-owner of the apple.

You always have your compassion, love and warmth to share.

The second lesson is that even if you aren’t prepared and not sure what you have to offer, you always have something. You always have your compassion, love and warmth to share. A smile, a pat on the back, a handshake or, yes, even a hug, may be all someone needs. Nonverbal communication can be more meaningful than words. The old saying “actions speak louder than words” is true. We don’t always need to have the right words at the right time. Sometimes all we need is to show we care.

Here are a few ways to show you care. Make time to sit down and have a cup of coffee with your friend. Really get to know your friend’s preferences in a mate. Remember, you’re trying to let go of what your personal preferences are and really listen to your friend’s preferences. Once you’ve got that info, you’re ready to take a look in the world.

But before you search the entire world, first search your world. Who is in your network that could help you find your friend’s Mr. or Mrs. Right? Make a few calls on your friend’s behalf; be a detective. Should you come up with an interesting suggestion, by all means, try to set your friend up. Of course, you’ll want to check in with your friend to make sure s/he agrees that the suggestion is on target. Even if your suggestion doesn’t lead to a date, you’ve learned more about your friend’s preferences and more about matchmaking. You’re making an investment in your friend, which is the greatest gift you can give.

For those of you searching for your soul mate, please comment below and tell the world what you need. What would you like from your friends and family members? What would make you feel loved and supported?

May you easily recognize your soul mate and may you find good friends who support you in the ways you need.


November 9, 2013

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Visitor Comments: 35

(30) Estee, July 9, 2014 10:03 AM

Trying not to be bitter

I just read your article and I just want to say my friends are amazing bH all of the are married and have really held on to our friendship they still make time for me and make sure I feel "Included" but the truth is I don't know if I ever will anymore. Yes I'm still young but I don't have that one best friend to go home to every night I don't have a baby on the way and it's just hard. I know they are doing a great job but I can't helping feeling guilty and bitter. They either come out to meet me and I feel like I make them shlep or I come to them and feel like I'm imposing on their schedules. I also never find the balance between talking to them about their husbands single friends and not being a nag. Should I just make younger more relatable friends?

(29) AMSB, February 6, 2014 10:06 PM

I love this article...until the end. I love that you talk about being sensitive to one's single friends. I love that you mention that even just giving a hug can be all the person needs. However, you quoted someone saying that s/he feels like the friend's "next project". And I agree. I've often felt that way. But then you go on to give tips on how to help single friends - which sounds to me like those friends are my next project. Single friends are not broken and don't need fixing. They are ppl with something they are struggling with - much like someone else might be struggling with paying one's bills. No one is treating that person like a project or a broken thing that needs fixing. I think the sensitive thing to do for friends who are struggling with being single - or with any struggles in life - is to just be an ear for them and a shoulder to lean on. Empathize. Don't treat them like a broken item that you have to fix.

(28) Anonymous, January 17, 2014 1:21 AM

Please don't be a frenemy

Please don't be a frenemiy and tell people my faults. I am only human as we all are. You may have seen a full spectrum of my emotions, but please don't tell them to a prospective shidduch because you could ruin it for me.

(27) Gila, December 23, 2013 10:09 AM

Loniless and lack do not disappear with marriage only G-d can help with this.

I was single for many, many years. I went to everyone else's Simchas. I was really happy for them. My friends were either dating, had boyfriends or girlfriends. Everyone seemed to have something to do and someone to do it with. It was sniper lonely sometimes. I agree most times it was better to be included than not. Now BH' I too am married. I want to help my friends marry too. Using a p.c. liable or not matters to some people. I rememberbeing sensitive too. It can be a very lonely, sad place sometimes. It also comes with unique oppertunities to do things that marrieds can't. It is impossible to be sensitive to everyone. As someone pointed out already, one thing hurts one person, but is better for another.

Some very important things should be pointed out though. First, H' created the world with people having a constant lack! Marriage is very difficult in and of itself and there are times where you are so lonely. Also those who are married and have no children also suffer. Then there are those who want another child and can't have. Everyone has a lack, but we all need to try to support each other and most I portantly Doven to H' for ourselves and others.

Everyone feels justifiably self-pitty for their particular lack and this is normal. Only H' is truly there for you all the time and can help you and get you through your individual trial.

(26) 24diamonds, December 8, 2013 7:31 AM

Thank you for asking us what we need! I often want to tell others what I need but it seems rude, or selfish. I have no family and I'm not yet married. I'm soo lonely! I wish I were invited to all kinds if things. Yes, occasionally it's awkward, but being genuinely invited feels 1,000 times better than knowing a party is going on and the only reason you're not invited is bc you're a single person. Also, I'm an adult. I don't want a roommate, I long to live in a house, with husband and children. If I had more money I'd rent or buy a house. I don't enjoy living in a studio apt, it robs me of my humanity,and my ability to invite anyone over to my home. It is not a home, it's more like a jail. Of course it has the necessities, and some nice things, I am grateful. I have been without even this much. But don't assume I am different from you. This hurts and shames me. Like someone else said, I am sincerely happy for others special occasions, even weddings, and I'm not suffering or jealous when I attend. I want my soulmate, and I need my friends and social events. I love the term not yet married, bc it gives so much hope. It puts a positive on a situation that has been shaming.

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