This month's Mannersmith Monthly comes to us from Mannersmith Consultant Winston Jenkins.
It never ceases to amaze me, the questions which I and many of my single friends face when approached by well meaning people who want to know why we are 'still single.' As a happy singleton myself, I often compare notes with my other single friends about how to answer personal questions regarding our own dating lives. Let's face it, for many of us singletons, no matter of how content or happy we are with our lives, the month of February most always brings up thoughts, concerns or downright angst for Valentine's Day. Then on top of these feelings we may occasionally be asked questions about our dating status from parents, siblings, cousins, and even complete strangers. Thus let me provide suggestions as to how to calmly, gracefully and politely provide some answers to these prying and personal questions.
First of all, we have to remember that these questions are most likely coming from a good and kind place. In other words, people are trying to be helpful and not be mean spirited. Many ask in such a way that it is a passing comment and does not necessarily require a full discussion. One suggestion comes from a dear friend of mine. When she moved back to her home town in South Carolina, she had a cousin asking her at every family gathering who she was dating. She finally politely told him that since it is rather difficult to meet nice people, he was not to ask her again about her dating life until he had an appropriate person with whom to set her up. But what happens if a complete stranger at a cocktail party asks, 'So why are you single?' A polite, but frank friend of mine responds with, 'Why do you ask?' This puts the question back on the asker, to ponder for a moment and perhaps move onto another conversation. Personally, I like to deflect the question completely. Sometimes I will use the response of, 'What an interesting question, but what I find fascinating is...' Other times I may say, 'I am still searching for the perfect match' and then deftly change the topic.
I propose a two part challenge for all of us singletons this year: First, embrace this dreaded day and realize Valentine's Day need not be just about romance. Take this opportunity to reach out to loved ones and tell them how grateful and blessed you are that they are in your lives. Take this opportunity to thank neighbors, colleagues and coworkers for all their help.
Secondly, to embrace this day of romance, remember some of the many positive aspects of being single.
We can live as we please.
For instance, as singletons we can come home after work or business travel to find that everything is as we left it. If dirty clothes are in the laundry hamper, it is because we put them in the hamper; or if dishes are in the sink it is because we left them there.
We have and make our own money.
Yes, it is true. Singletons can choose exactly how to save and spend their money. We choose what charities we support, how much goes into savings or how much we decide to spend on tuition, food, travel or entertainment. We can set our own budgets which gives us financial freedom.
We have time that is our own.
We can go to the movies any time we want. I love going to the movies. I am fortunate to have lots of good friends in my life and most of them like to go to the movies too. It does not have to be a major event because we can just pick up and go.
We can travel whenever and wherever we like.
Recently my sister and I went on an amazing trip. I only had to check with work and volunteer commitments to see if I could get the time off and make the necessary arrangements. I could just walk out the door. Freedom is an amazing thing.
We can choose how to spend our weekends.
As singletons we have a choice as to whether we stay home or go away for the weekend. We can enjoy this time in our lives of being independent and relish having time to ourselves. Because who knows when we might meet the 'right one' and one day our time will no longer be our own.
So, this February embrace Valentine's Day and think of it as the Finnish do, as Friend's Day. The secret to happiness is realizing your blessings for the life you have right now. Reach out to people in your life to remind them they are important to you; remember the suggested responses so you are ready with a polite answer the next time you are asked, 'So why are you single?'; and better yet, plan now to go to the theater, a show, a dinner or a movie with good friends on February 14th and celebrate of all the good things in your life.