Single-shaming is on the rise according to a study, but happy singles can now hit back at jibes with these top tips

How to respond to single-shaming once and for all with these expert tips

Single-shaming, Woman with drink in coffee shop
(Image credit: Tim Robberts Getty)

We all have that one single friend who struggles to settle down, who we worry won't ever get their happy ending. But unbeknownst to us, they are happy, happier than ever being on their own but are feeling fed up with the way their friends and family treat them when they're going solo.

And when you are that single friend, who has unsubscribed from dating sites for the millionth dating app because you've been constantly told there's 'plenty more fish in the sea', you start to realize that the world is your oyster and you don't need to be in a relationship to feel validated.

But that doesn't stop the soul-destroying remarks like 'You'll find someone soon' or 'I feel sorry for anyone who's been single during this pandemic' and even offers to set you up with someone.

According to a survey for Match, over half of the 1,000 people asked said they had experienced single-shaming, and 37% of people said this had increased since the start of the pandemic.

Video conferencing singles website

(Image credit: Peter Dazeley Getty)

Ella has been single for 18 months and a year ago (just before the pandemic started), she decided to delete dating apps, feeling she didn’t want to focus so much time on finding a partner. 

She said she's been happy focusing on herself but her nearest and dearest are obsessed with her love life.

"It’s so frustrating seeing family and rather than wanting to talk about how well my business is going or the hobbies I enjoy, they just want to ask about when I’m going to find someone and get married. ‘I’m only 29! If I met someone and it was the right time, I’d love that but my life is about more than just finding a relationship."

Meanwhile, singleton Zoe admits it’s something she’s put up with for the last three years since her last relationship. She said, 'I’ve had lots of situations where I could have been in a relationship but I’ve chosen not to because that person wouldn’t make me happier or improve my life.

She added, 'I’d rather be single and in control of my own life and happiness than compromise it for anyone else.’

Group of friends enjoying tea at cool teashop

(Image credit: MoMo Productions Getty)

Top 10 single-shaming phrases - how many are you guilty of using towards your single friends?

  1. You’ll find someone soon – 38% of those surveyed had heard this phrase 
  2. You must be so lonely – 29% 
  3. I can’t believe you haven’t met anyone yet – 26% 
  4. Have you met anyone nice recently? – 24% 
  5. Are you seeing anyone special? – 24% 
  6. How long has it been since your last relationship? – 24% 
  7. Let me set you up with someone! – 20% 
  8. I feel sorry for anyone who’s been single during this pandemic – 18% 
  9. Don’t you want some company? – 18% 
  10. Why do you think you’re still single? – 18%

Match’s dating expert, Hayley Quinn admits its ok to feel a little peeved by comments questioning your choice. She explained, "Being single isn’t a waiting room for something better to happen in your life. Whilst a lot of singles will be actively looking to meet that special someone, many will also be really content with their life as it is."

She continued, "That’s why single-shaming is so annoying; it assumes that we all want the same kind of relationship, at the same time. Most people wouldn’t dream of asking someone, “so you still haven’t bought a house yet?” however when it comes to our love lives, it can feel like suddenly everyone has an opinion!"

Hayley pointed out the positives of being single, she said, "Finding a meaningful relationship is an amazing thing but being single can also be one of the best of times of your life. You’ll never have so much time for personal development, self-care and to go after your goals. If those goals involve finding commitment, then having a fantastic relationship with yourself first will mean you go on to make better choices as to who you share your life with."

She added, "So, it’s high time that we became aware that there’s not just one way someone can be happy and dropped the single-shaming."

Dating expert Hayley Quinn gives her tips on how to handle single-shaming:

  1. Remember being single is always a choice, so hold your head up high!  
  2. When most people single-shame, they’re just trying to show that they care. So even if how they express that is annoying, this often isn’t their intention. 
  3. When you respond, avoid apologising or making self-deprecating statements like ‘I’m not very good at keeping them interested I guess..’. Instead speak positively about your life.  
  4. You don’t need to justify your love life to someone else, so it’s okay to give a vague response 
  5. Don’t be afraid to change the topic to something else that you’re passionate about, there’s more to life than just relationships.
Selina Maycock

Selina is a Senior Entertainment Writer with more than 15 years of experience in newspapers and magazines. She has covered all things Entertainment for GoodtoKnow, Woman&Home and My Imperfect Life. Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand.