Are You Being Shamed for Being Single? Here's What to Do

How can we address the stigma and stop people from single shaming?

Richie Frieman
6-minute read
Episode #374

Take Victor, who DM’d me Twitter about his friends giving him a hard for being single for so long. Victor said that due to his “inability” to keep a girlfriend his friends constantly ragged on him for “choosing” the single life over commitment. And that label bothered him the most. I mean, just because someone is single may not mean they like it, let alone choose it. So if you’re the friend who is time and time again improperly labeled as “romantically aloof” because you’re single, take this time to throw it back at them. And don’t think fighting back is rude—in fact, it’s only proper to stand up for yourself when your “friends” take jabs at you this way. Come back with something like, “I’ll be honest guys, if you want to be concerned for me, that’s kind, but don’t shame me for being single.” Then follow up with, “It’s not as easy for me, and not everyone is in the same boat, so before you judge, just remember that.” Be serious to shut them down and stop it. Sometimes friends feel that ragging on one another is a part of the game, regardless of the situation; love, work, clothing, etc. However, if any “friendly ribbing” gets too much to stomach, don’t be shy and speak up before it snowballs into you avoiding them. Proper friends will understand … and if they don’t, it may be time to find ones that do.

Tip #3: Family Shaming

It's very likely that the Oscar for the Best Single Shaming goes to your family members. Need I really paint a picture to make this point? We’ve all been there or been a close witness to family members shaming others—mostly people in their 20s and 30s—about being single. “Why aren’t you dating anyone?” “When are you going to settle down?” “When will I have grandchildren?” And the truly devilish family members will add some tears to go with their serving of guilt and shame. Take Allison for example, who at every Thanksgiving (the grand holiday for single shaming) is faced with a table of family members grilling her about not having a boyfriend, let alone a husband. I mean, how dare she, time and time again, show up to a family gathering without a man on her arm? The worst was when her mom actually asked, “Did I do anything to make you this way?” Really?

Mannerly Nation, what are we going to do? Well, for starters, we’re not going to take it any more. See, like in Tip #2 with rude friends, unmannerly family members believe it’s their “right” to pry. Maybe I missed something, but I get annoyed when people use being family as a way to be overly-sarcastic and of course, shame single family members for not settling down. To handle this, you can try two approaches. First, sarcasm. I love sarcasm and when it comes to annoying family members, I recommend to use it often and layered on thick. Something like, “Oh, I forgot to tell you: I got married and didn’t invite you. Yeah, it’s true!” Or, “I was going to settle down but I much rather go through this barrage of torment for not being pregnant yet.” Choose your poison but make sure they know you’re not phased. The second approach is to blunt and honest, as I said in Tip #2: “I understand you’re all concerned but it really hurts me when you make it worse with your shaming. When I’m with someone, you’ll be the first to know.” With family, you can be blunt. They won’t abandon you like friends who you put in the place. Use that to your advantage and use it often… And never be ashamed about it.

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

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