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If your family asks why you're still single, how can you handle it? What can you say in response?

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

I would argue that this is one of the most important opportunities to remember to keep your perspective. It often stings to hear this question, especially when that one special relationship is something that most long for more deeply than anything else in this life (and that is most keenly felt during the holiday season as you look around at various seemingly-happy couples). The question often feels insensitive, even hurtful and insulting given our desire and efforts. However, we have to remember that our family members who truly love us are asking this because they genuinely want the best for us and want to do all they can to contribute towards our happiness.

So given this perspective the immediate response is to make sure we don't react. We don't make thing worse. Although we may be feeling compounded hurt, we need to insure that we are not making things worse by reacting in a defensive, or offensive way. Nothing is more painful than the sting of regret, when we say or do something that can't be reversed. One immediate benefit is that we are not going to "drag down" the holiday for ourselves and/or others by reacting the wrong way. While the reality is intelligence decreases when emotion increases, we need to immediately take steps to make sure we aren't going to make things worse. Whether it's through thinking a second-long prayer or clinging to a tangible reminder in your pocket or on your person, do whatever you need to do to keep your perspective so that we respond instead of react. We have no control over anything except how we choose to respond to the things beyond our control.

Therefore, I see the best immediate response, not reaction, is to take two different directions, depending on who is asking the question. If this person is not among your closest relationships, someone who may have ulterior motives for asking, a brief response like "I've been working on it and I trust things will work out in the right time" may suffice. It's even better to segue into a new topic like how the last year has made you take stock on what's most important in life. Regarding those you know genuinely care for your welfare, this may be the opportunity to begin to open up to them on your feelings, struggles, hopes, and plans. A holiday celebration is unlikely the best time or place to go deep, but it can be the ideal scenario to begin that journey of mutual transparency so that the other recognizes not only how much they mean to you, but also the privilege of you taking them into your confidence and helping you take every step to be ready for the right moment with the right person. A humble statement like "I'm at peace with what I've been doing but I'm open to some new thoughts to make sure I'm leaving nothing of the table. Either way, you have to convey your acknowledgment that your internal peace is not only the higher priority but is also the path to ensuring all your relationships are as great as can be--not just the romantic ones. This will give you a peace that cannot come from anywhere but within. It is the peace which no one can take away.

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