Red roses. High-end chocolate. Candlelit dinner. All status symbols of Valentine's Day. But even before my divorce, Valentine's Day rarely looked so ideal. Overcrowded restaurants, the stress of securing a babysitter and fizzled expectations — not unlike those found on Christmas afternoons — encapsulated my "day of love."
But that's really what it is. Valentine's Day is a day to show love. Valentine's Day is a day to build up those you care about. And Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate anyone who makes a difference in your life. Even your single friends.
So tap into your own vulnerability. Think about your time as one of the single folk, and keep your lips sealed before you say any of these six lame (but oh-so-common) phrases.
"Valentine's Day must be hard."
Why it's a lame thing to say: Assuming that Valentine's Day will be hard for a single friend suggests the worst. It suggests that Valentine's Day should be hard as a single person. And depending on your relationship with the person, its underlying tone says: What could a single person possibly be happy about on Valentine's Day? Exuding pity toward your friend is not exactly the most loving vibe.
What to say instead: Nothing. Or depending on your relationship with your single friend you could say: I love you. I'm glad to see you. I'm so glad you're my friend.
"I could set you up."
Why it's a lame thing to say: So much of life is about timing. If you're already friends with thus stated single person, then pick another day (other than Valentine's Day) to inquire about his interest in being set up.
What to say instead: Nothing. If you're good enough friends, ask your single friend — on any day other than Valentine's Day — if she has any interest in meeting someone you know. Based on her response, drop it or expand more.
"I've heard online dating works."
Why it's a lame thing to say: Timing. Timing. Timing. The most loaded day for being in a relationship is probably not the day to share your grapevine advice with someone. And this comment is laced with assumptions and pity.
What to say instead — nothing.
"You're lucky you're not in a relationship!"
Why it's a lame thing to say: This statement is a back-handed compliment — both to your partner and your single friend. This comment also assumes the single person you're talking to wants to be in a relationship — and she is really the fortunate one to have an unencumbered life since your relationship-clad life is so hard and complicated. It also exudes a sense of pity and suggests your single friend is flawed because she is not in a relationship.
What to say instead: Nothing. Or a sincere "I'm so happy I know you."
"But you're so pretty-handsome-nice-funny."
Why it's a lame thing to say: This statement is intended to be a compliment — but the lingering unasked question is: "So, I don't understand how you could be single?" Which places blame on your friend for not being in a relationship.
What to say instead: Nothing. Or if the moment warrants, tell her you love her sense of humor, the way she communicates, or say how glad you are that she is your friend.
"You'll find your special someone."
Why it's a lame thing to say: Again, this comment — with spotlight precision — gives your friend the sense that you see him as incomplete. And really, since we're not psychics — we don't actually know that our friend will find his special someone — or even if he wants a special someone right now.
What to say instead: Nothing. Or, depending on your relationship, express your feelings of gratitude for your single friend. Be specific. Be sincere. And don't frame your expressions of love in the context of a relationship.
And so we see that life really is about the simple nothings. Expressing your love or saying nothing. Especially to your single friends on Valentine's Day.