A few years ago I had a conversation with one of my best friends that left an impression on me. Betsy was recently married, and I was still single. I was telling her about a guy whom I had gone out with a few times before things just fizzled.
In the middle of voicing my frustration at another disappointing dating dilemma, Betsy said something profound. Actually, what she didn’t say was the profound part. She said, with sincerity and compassion:
I don’t know why you’re still single, Ash. You are an amazing friend, and I just wish some guy would see in you what I see in you. I don’t know why God hasn’t brought that guy into your life yet, but I wish He would soon.”
At that moment, it was so freeing to hear someone admit that she was also confused by my prolonged singleness.
I think it’s common for singles, both guys and girls, to feel exhausted by all the thinking and wondering why. It’s easy to spend way more time than you should analyzing yourself, your past relationships, your friends’ relationships — all in an attempt to figure out this whole dating thing.
What did your friend do to get married? Is your Aunt Nancy’s suggestion to try online dating worth your time? Should you reconsider that girl in your small group, the one whom you overlooked the first time you met?
I often grew weary from all the time I spent inside my own head. For me, being single felt like a math equation, and though I would get close, I could never quite solve for x. So it was actually freeing for Betsy not to offer a solution or suggest yet another thing I should do to meet a good guy. It was refreshing to hear her admit her frustration on my behalf with God’s timing.
It would be another two years after that conversation until I met my husband, and during those two years I could always count on Betsy to offer sympathy and encouragement. But she never tried to “fix” my singleness. I appreciated that so much.
I was reminded of that a few weeks ago when a friend was telling me about a guy she was dating but was unsure about. As she talked, I found myself wanting to offer her solutions and a list of things to do. But instead, I simply told her, “I don’t know.” I encouraged her in how she was conducting herself in a God-honoring way and tried to empathize with her confusion and uncertainty about the relationship. But I didn’t try to offer a solution or try to help her fix it.
There might be times when friends need advice or something to do in their pursuit of marriage. But consider that there might be a time when they don’t. Sometimes just listening and being a source of empathy is what they really need.