Single Living: So,Why Didn’t You Ever Get Married?( or similar questions)

rose-1301595726lFw” So,why didn’t you ever get married?” It is a question every long-term single has been asked multiple times. There are several variations to this question equally as daunting.( Feel free to substitute your favorite variation here.) 🙂

Usually as a single person I am asked this question at very odd and vulnerable times. For example, at a party gathered around a group of people. One minute I am hearing about an acquaintance’s vacation to Mexico and the next thing I know I hear THE QUESTION as ten pairs of eyes shift their focus to me. A hush falls over the entire party as everyone waits for my reply. It is enough to make even the most confident single person stammer.

And stammer for a moment is what I usually do, for several reasons. First, the question seems a to hint that my life as a singe person needs justifying on some level. I have never heard anyone at a party ask ” So Ann, why did you decide to get married and start a family?” Well, maybe they do and I just always miss that part of the conversation. The second reason I stammer is because it requires me to reveal a part of my past that I do not wish to share with everyone, especially in a casual social setting.

While such a question may seem rude and impertinent to some single people, I imagine that most of the time no offense is meant. People are curious by nature. So, if you are married and have single friends and you are interested in their choices in life, remember it is all in how you phrase your questions! Let the single people in your life know that you think they are interesting and ask them about their hobbies and interests. When you listen to single people talk about their passions you will get a glimpse of how the single mindset works and how they build social networks to support them in their single life. Please avoid the approach that somehow their life is lacking    ( such as “don’t you miss, or don’t you wish?”). It just isn’t good manners. Either they are healing wounds ( the newly divorced, for example) that you are re-opening with such questions or they are long time singles who love single life and words such as miss and wish just aren’t part of their regular vocabulary.

If you are a single person, when you find yourself in a situation where people want to know about your personal life take the opportunity to educate them. Help those you come into contact with understand that single people are often educated, attractive, and talented individuals leading fulfilling lives and contributing to their communities in various ways. Be a living example of what it is like to grow where you are planted and to understand that happiness comes from within and not from the validation of other people.

I would love to hear from you! If you are single, how do you address tough personal questions? If you are married, have you ever wondered about your single friend’s choices but weren’t sure how to ask? Let me know your experiences.

Until next time,



  • Laura your advice and support are always good and sound no matter the topic. Just a quick observation to throw into the thought process. Thanks in large part to you I am back in school. Currently I am taking an ethics class and have been doing a lot of reading and writing on power and privilege. A big reason “isms” exist is that it identifies what is different from “me”. As we all know the most privileged class in the U.S. today is being white male. Even within that status there are layers of privilege so that a white male may be less privileged if he is disabled for instance. As humans we tend to identify what is different not sameness. So if the majority of people I am with, or know, are married the single person will stand out as being different. Sad, but I have seen it in my own life recently–go against the norm and people ask you why?


    • I am so happy that you are back in school! I bet your class is fascinating. 🙂 All of us have something that makes us different from others so I hope that our culture can continue to grow towards acceptance and understanding that we all have far more in common with each other than not. Differences make us uncomfortable but discomfort can help us to grow and reach our fullest potential. Thanks for the observation!


  • I’m not single, but I don’t want children- which is similar in that it’s something most people do and want. I think because of that I’m very sensitive to the idea that different people want different kinds of lives, and that it’s really none of my business! I think people are so happy in a relationship or with kids that they do pity those without- I think in a way it’s just a symptom of being self-centered, to make the assumption that everyone must envy and want what you want. I certainly get pitying looks or disbelief about not wanting children- little do they know that every night I walk into my clean, peaceful, quiet apartment- with my one kitty and time all to myself and feel total bliss.


    • I think you are right that people assume you want the same things in life that they want based on their own happiness or their own understanding of what we are supposed to do in this life. A peaceful living space and a kitty are great blessings, indeed. Hopefully the people with whom you come into contact with will begin to understand that you are truly happy and start to build understanding about how everyone has different desires and purposes in life. Thanks for the insight! 🙂


  • One’s curiosity doesn’t trump simple good manners, and no one needs to respond to a rude question, thoughtlessly asked or not. However, the asker needs some etiquette lessons, so two responses could be (a) a brief silence as though the question was unheard, then a return to the previous conversation topic; or (b) say “Why would you want to know that?” Let the asker stammer through a response, then you say “Interesting,” and … return to the previous conversation topic. Neither (a) nor (b) is rude, but an accepted way to handle intrusive interrogation at social events, but note that the asker will believe that you are being rude in your response. You aren’t.

    Yes, people can be curious about a lifestyle not their own, but that’s why we have Google. Let ’em go find out.


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