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Urban Etiquette

Ellen Vanstone answers your questions about the annoying behaviours, poor manners and impatient encounters that dot the days of a city dweller.

Urban Etiquette: My married friend won't stop pestering me about being single. What do I do?

"Sometimes the phrase 'I just want you to be happy like me' can be translated as 'misery loves company,'" writes Ellen Vanstone.

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Dear Ellen, 

I am single and my best friend is married. I have no problem with this but she seems to have a problem with me being single, and is constantly asking me if I’ve met anyone or else she’s telling me to go online. I tell her I’m fine being single but she says she just wants me to be happy like her. How can I get her to stop pestering me about this?


Dear NM, 

With Valentine’s Day coming up this week, and Family Day coming up in some parts of Canada next week, the pressure is on single people everywhere to conform to the marriage model of “normal” family life. Except that it’s not normal anymore. Families, and romance, come in all shapes and sizes, and proper etiquette means catching up with that reality. 

I’m sure your married friend sincerely wants the best for you, but sometimes the phrase “I just want you to be happy like me” can be translated as “misery loves company.” Some married people want everyone else to be married too, in order to validiate that their life choice is the best, most “normal” healthy way to live. It’s also true that a strong couples network can help hold a shaky marriage together. Socializing with other marrieds, where the spouses can separate for the evening to bond (and bitch a little) with other spouses provides an incredibly strong social glue that can send people home with a refreshed attitude and increased appreciation for each other.

Note that the idea of going through life shoulder to shoulder with a partner you love and trust isn’t just a wild fantasy for many single people. It’s also the unattainable dream for many a married couple. 

So, to recap: Your married friend, whether she’s happy or unhappy in her marriage, probably can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want the safety and security that she seems to get from her marriage; and no doubt she wants you, her best friend, to be part of her social-glue couples world so she can bond with you on that level as well. I doubt you’ll convince her otherwise.

What you can do is tell her what’s good about your life. I don’t mean try to make her jealous about your wild sex life, or the freedom you have to do whatever you want at home, day or night, without having to constantly cater to some partner’s idiotic peccadilloes until you want to scream, etc. Tell her that being single doesn’t mean being alone, or deprived, or pathetic. Tell her that studies show people, whether they’re married or not, who have an active social life, who are part of a community, and who have strong friendships, tend to live longer, healthier lives. 

And if she seems open to it, you might also mention to your friend that it’s never been polite to ask certain questions, such as the following nosy/hurtful/judgemental queries: Are you married? Why aren’t you married? Are you going to have kids? Why don’t you have kids? How come you’re getting divorced? Whose fault is it? Are you sure you’ve thought it through? Aren’t you afraid of being alone?

Live and let live. Love and let love. And have a happy Valentine’s Day regardless of who you’re with.  

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