Single #2: Being Single-Friendly


10 November 2012 by thaliakr

Almost all of us will spend some of our adult lives single, but when we do we’ll be in a sometimes uncomfortable minority. There are some brilliant things about the single life and some challenges we need to help each other in to build deep and strong community for all of us.

Following on from this earlier post, here are nine ways to be a great friend to someone who’s single. It’s illustrated with pics of awesome (and famous) single people.

Tim Gunn embroidery

Tim Gunn embroidery (Photo credit: Totally Severe)

Don’t make an ASS out of U and ME

Single people are as diverse as a group as the rest of humanity is, of course. On top of that, being single in your twenties is pretty different from being single in your fifties; becoming single through being widowed or divorced are hugely different again.

So don’t assume that anything on this list applies to your single friends and their situations, but do ask.

Offer to match-make (I said ‘offer‘)

Plenty of single people who are looking for a partner find it difficult to meet eligible bachelor/ettes. There’s no Saturday night dance at the village hall anymore.

This can be an awkward one, but it doesn’t need to be. If you know someone who you think might interest your friend, just offer, in a no-strings way, to put them in contact if they’re open to the idea. No problem if not.

Don’t match-make without asking. Really. A single person’s love-life is not public property.

Invite friends to be involved in your family life

If you have kids, be generous with them (as appropriate for you and them, of course).

Invite single friends who don’t have children to be as involved as they like in your family life. Of course, they may not be too interested in kids, but if they are, here are some ideas:

  • Ask a single friend to be a godparent to your child, or give them the honorary title of Auntie or Uncle
  • Regularly or occasionally, invite them to join in the everyday chaos of a family dinner. Invite them to do the bedtime story too, if that works for everyone.
  • Ask them to babysit. Obviously, you’ll want to see them yourselves at other times too, but some single people really enjoy being in sole charge of kids.
  • Invite them to family occasions like kids’ birthday parties and (if they’re hardy) school concerts. These are experiences people without kids can miss out on.

Language matters

If I say to you, belligerently, ‘I haven’t done nothing wrong,’ the literal words might mean I’m guilty, but you know that I mean I’m innocent.

If I say ‘family’ when I just mean ‘household,’ single people might know I’m talking about them too, but it just underlines any sense of exclusion they may already feel.

St Paul the Writer

St Paul the Writer (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

Only give ‘combined’ presents if you receive them too

I love birthdays. Do you love birthdays? I LOVE birthdays.

Here’s a tip to make your single friends’ birthdays even better. If you and your partner each received a birthday present from your friend/sister/colleague, don’t give her just one present combined from you both – even if it’s twice the value of one normal gift.

Even if one of you mostly does the present-buying (I’m HOH gifts in our house), give two things, or wrap a pair of things separately. I know, I know, it’s not a big deal, but repeatedly losing out on the present-go-round can be one of those little things that can make being single a bit depressing.

Offer practical help

One of the great things about having a partner is the division of labour. If you have single friends who live alone, consider offering your services.

It made a huge difference to me, when I was single and living by myself, that one kind person mowed my lawns for me, others regularly dropped frozen meals around when I was sick, and another set up a new router for me.

If you have a neighbour living alone, perhaps you could tell them you’re available if they ever have concerns late at night.

Offering help with gardening, trailer runs, home handy stuff, tax returns, spring cleans, or just saying you’re on the other end of a phone if you’re ever needed: gold.


It’s often a partner’s job to organise special celebrations like big birthday parties. Perhaps you could offer to host or organise an event for a single friend?

And a bunch of roses is a lovely gift for pretty much anyone.

Elizabeth I, The Darnley Portrait

Don’t be down on odd numbers

Lots of people notice the drop-off in dinner invitations when they go from having a partner to being single.

Next time you’re having a few people over for a meal, make up your mind that either a) odd numbers really don’t matter or b) two single people on your guest list will even things out beautifully.

Partner up platonically

One great thing about having a partner (for some people) is having a default person to go to the movies with, learn Te Reo with, see a new exhibition with, go tramping with.

Listen out for things your single friends might be keen to do but not have a buddy for. Invite them to go together with your household to stuff or offer yourself as a just-the-two-of-you partner for social stuff.

What else?

That’s my list, and it’s not intended to be exhaustive. What else would you add?

And do head over to the first post in the series for thoughtful comments from a bunch of people.


7 thoughts on “Single #2: Being Single-Friendly

  1. Rebekah Noakes says:

    good list me thinks.

  2. Spaghetti says:

    Ms T – it amazes me how onto it & observant you are – great list :) I’ve been thinking about this topic a bit, and have been pondering the flip side. As a single woman, I love your ideas on how to be more single-friendly but at the same time have a niggling awareness that being part of a couple/family also has challenges (esp if there are kids). Including single people into that life takes sacrifice – and despite (in the past) getting annoyed with ‘coupled’ friends who no longer had time for Me, it slowly dawned on me that parents esp don’t really have a lot of spare time.

    It’s good then to see some of your ideas above actually work for both sides – ie. baby-sitting obviously benefits parents who get a few hours break, but you’re right, being in sole charge of a child is something (some) single childless people enjoy but don’t get to experience often. And maybe the home-help/handyperson idea could extend to become mini working bee’s where 1 or 2 couples could join with 1 or 2 singles, and each household gets 1 or 2 working-bee(s) per year (kids welcome of course).

    It would also be interesting to hear your thoughts on simple ways single people can be more couple/family friendly? :)

    • Sorry, Spaghetti, for the long time between drinks here. I have been mulling your suggestions and drafting thoughts in thought form :)

      Great comments. I think the spare time factor is a sneaky one. It might actually be the biggest difference between single, unchilded life, and partnered parent life – though I suppose there are lots of candidates for that title. I certainly thought I was aware of the difference as a single person but goodness, there’s nothing like parenting to make recreational non-child-focused time feel like gold or diamonds. Better stop here before it becomes a blog post without its own page!

      Working bees are the best idea. My preaching buddies and I have a catchphrase: it’s always easier to write someone else’s sermon. And weed someone else’s garden, clean their kitchen or organise their filing cabinet. And even easier to do it with them.

  3. […] were some very thoughtful comments on the first two posts in our Single series (here and here), particularly about how single people and families can be part of each other’s […]

  4. […] how can we prepare our kids to thrive as single people, treat single friends really well and grow to be whole, content people who don’t depend on partners for their sense of self or […]

  5. Frank says:

    Just re-reading this, and enjoying it again. I was just talking to a friend who is recently divorced and facing Easter alone for the first time in a while as her husband is taking the kids away. I’d love some tips for that situation!

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