Have you ever considered what a single person might need in order to feel included and well-loved? Bridget Gee shares her honest input.
What Your Single Friend May Want to Tell You
By Bridget Gee
“Can I address something that happened at church a couple days ago?”
I sat across from one of my girlfriends at a coffee shop. This was a long-awaited get-together, on the calendar for weeks.
“Yes, of course!” She replied.
I recounted the awkward moment we had in church, when I had to move over to make space for her husband in the middle of the sermon, even though she assured me he was going to be in the sound booth for all of service. While the pastor spoke, her husband stood over me and asked if he could sit next to his wife. I obliged.
But I saw red the rest of the service. I couldn’t even hear my pastor’s sermon. I felt so embarrassed and unloved in that moment. At the time, my friend leaned over and mouthed, “I’m sorry,” and she apologized again over coffee. We discussed what could have gone differently- like her husband sitting in the empty chair next to me, for example, or rather than having me scoot over, I could have switched places with her, so that she could sit between us.
I know this seems like such a small interaction to feel so deeply about, but I make a lot of moves for my married friends. As a single woman in my early thirties, most of my friends are married. And then eventually they become parents. So, I happily come to them. Without complaint, I have the disjointed and interrupted hang outs with my mom friends in their colorful, toy-filled living rooms. I become “Aunt Bodgie” to their kids. Sometimes, I even babysit.
I try to adapt my expectations in my friendships as their realities change. It’s all I can do to keep investing in those relationships. But the movement and shifting isn’t always mutual. I’ve done this for more than a decade, and it can grow a bit exhausting. So, it feels important for me to let my friends know better ways to love me as a single person in community with them.
One February, my friend Buzzy called me up to ask if she could stop by with one of her kids. She had something she wanted to drop off. I was excited to see them, and I love surprises. Before long, two of my favorite people were in my living room with a pink and white bouquet, a card, and some chocolate. We laughed and shared the chocolate while I looked at the crayon-filled card that wished me a Happy Valentine’s Day. It was a wonderful surprise.
I added my new flowers to the bouquet of roses I got myself earlier that week to celebrate the day of love. But my roses were getting a little droopy and I eventually had to take them out of the mix. For the remainder of the time that Buzzy’s flowers sat on my kitchen table, God whispered of his love and provision for me in the form of my mom friend. I hadn’t needed to preemptively romance myself. I wasn’t going to be forgotten that holiday.
As a single person, God uses my friends to show me love and delight and partnership all the time. Both of my married girlfriends did that for me- one by humbly empathizing with my experience and the other by going out of her way to delight in me. I don’t have to wait for a romantic partner to have this, praise God!
There are so many ways you can intentionally think of and celebrate your single friends, too. We need it! Invite us over for lunch or dinner after church. Make a big deal about our accomplishments and birthdays. Invite us on vacation. Ask us to lead in church- in ways that honor our giftings. Ask us for advice. Don’t let our conversations center around finding love- there’s far more to life and far more to talk about! Those are just a few ideas.
And maybe once in a while, just plop yourself down in the pew next to whoever is sitting next to your spouse and be church family for a while.
Singles need regular care and intentionality. And you need singles in your life, trust me. We all will be blessed by engaging in a more robust and diverse experience of community.
Bridget Gee is the spiritual formation coordinator for InterVarsity's Study Abroad programs, where she directs European pilgrimages for students, staff, and partners to experience contemplative and historic followings of Jesus. She is the host of Soladarity: The Singleness Podcast, author of Single, Just Because: A Pilgrimage into Holy Aloneness, and lives in Tucson, Arizona.