By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
Nothing can kill the atmosphere of a get-together quite like third-wheeling. Although married friends may want to include single friends, sometimes they might unintentionally exclude these friends without intending to.
Friends may love at all times (Proverbs 17:17), but they may be getting hurt in the process or feel excluded.
If you’re worried that you may be excluding a single friend, or are a single person who wants to gently suggest some ways for your married friends to be more inclusive, consider 6 of the following ways to make get-togethers more open and inviting for all your friends, single or married:
1. Spend Time with Your Single Friends Outside of Dates
This one may seem straightforward, but many Christian married couples can be attached at the hip. Single friends of yours may never see you apart from your husband or wife.
Better yet, intentionally choose a set day each week or month to dedicate a few hours to spend with just your friend.
They’ll appreciate your conscious decision to make room for them in your life and will feel more included.
Some married couples may never see each other that often, due to conflicting work schedules, etc., so make sure that if you can’t consistently spend time with friends outside of dates that you still be as intentional as possible when you can.
2. Don’t Try to Set Them Up (Unless They Ask You To)
Inevitably, when two Christians marry, they experience an abundant joy from the gift God has granted them, and they want others to feel the same joy they do. This often leads to married Christians trying to help out their single friends by setting them up with godly relatives, friends, coworkers, etc. to help them get un-single.
As good as the intentions may be, this can often lead Christian singles feeling somewhat incomplete or less-than-perfect because they don’t have a spouse to “fulfill” them.
Also, some Christians may not feel called to the married life. Like Paul, maybe they want to pursue singleness for this season, or even, this lifetime (1 Corinthians 7:7).
If they have chosen to be single for this season, or if God has chosen that for them and they are choosing to live in obedience to that call, make sure to respect that decision.
However, if they do ask if you can set them up with someone, make sure to pray and earnestly ask God if you are the right person to intervene. And if so, make sure you ask God to show you which godly man or woman he intends to place in the life of your friend.
3. Show Them You Think and Care about Them
Married life comes with its own cares and worries, and married Christians may unintentionally exclude single friends. As with any major life transition, we become busy and can often forget to message or talk with some of our friends and family.
If you haven’t reached out to your single friend in a while, here are some ways you can regularly show that you’re thinking of them:
- Any time you think of a memory involving them, text or call them. “I was just thinking about the time you and I went to that worship night,” etc.
- Ask them once a week how you can pray for them that week. Even if you can’t regularly meet up, Christians take prayer very seriously (Ephesians 6:18). They’ll be extremely moved to know you have included them in their prayer life.
- Send them verses that have encouraged you in morning devotionals or articles you’ve read on sites like Crosswalk.com that made you think of them.
- Send them updates about what’s happening in your life. Although they may not be married, they would love to hear about the ups and downs of your days.
4. Invite Other Single Friends to Get-Togethers
If you take your spouse along with you to a get-together, make sure to invite other single friends to the gathering, and not just so the singles in the group can hit it off with each other.
Often, inviting other single Christians can help set your friends at ease.
If you don’t have many single friends to invite, try to reach out to the singles in your church and get to know them. Often single Christians can feel like there’s a barrier between themselves and married Christians because they are worried they’ll be made to feel incomplete or lesser because they don’t have a significant other.
Be open and welcoming to the singles in your church and invite them to your next outing.
5. Watch Body Language with Your Significant Other Around Your Single Friends
Although we do understand that married couples kiss and, well, do other things, make sure not to make your single friends feel uncomfortable when around your spouse.
Do your single friends get tense when you snuggle with your husband on the couch when you’re watching a movie or do you kiss a lot in front of them?
Make sure to establish boundaries with your single friends and be intentional in asking them what makes them feel uncomfortable. Try to be conscientious when around them about how much you engage with your spouse in a physical way.
6. Please, Don’t Pity Us
Single Christians may love being single. For instance, I love the fact that I don’t have to share food with anyone and can live in my house alone with my cat in peace. God may bring someone along for me in the future, but at the moment, I enjoy the perks of being single.
So I often get a little confused when I tell married Christian friends that I’m single, they often respond in one of two ways.
Or, “I’m sure God has someone just around the corner waiting for you.”
Not only does that sound a little foreboding, but also, this tends to make me feel awful about myself. I question as to whether I am complete or fulfilled without a spouse.
We do have to keep in mind that Paul says singleness is a gift (1 Corinthians 7).
Even if a single Christian doesn’t want the gift of singleness, consider some alternative ways to answer when they say, “I’m single”:
"What are your thoughts on singleness?” Discover their perspective and try to listen. Most often, single Christians don’t feel listened to, and they’ll be extremely grateful for a space to speak about their experiences.
“Tell me more about what’s been happening in your life.” This shows that their identity is not hinged on or fulfilled by having a significant other.
“That’s great. I’d love to know how God has moved in your life during this season.” This acknowledges that singleness is a gift, and that God can move in anyone married or without a spouse.
Why Does This Matter?
This matters because singles tend to be a neglected group in the church. The church doesn’t often know what to do with them, and so, by default, they often end up excluded.
But married Christians and single Christians can learn so much for each other. Consider using one of the above solutions to make your single Christian friend feel more included and that they, too, have immense value and worth, with or without a spouse.
Photo Credit: ©Pexels/fauxels
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 600 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) Den (releasing July 2020), Dear Hero (releasing September 2020), and Dear Henchman (releasing 2021) Find out more about her here.