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3 Condescending Comments Single People Often Hear and What I Say in Response

If you are single, like I am, there are things people say to you. For example:

  • Don’t worry, honey – your time will come.
  • Well, being single – at least it is better than being in a bad relationship

If you don’t succumb to these pitying kinds of remarks, then you might start getting the scare stories and the threats. For example:

  • You know you are going to die alone, don’t you?

When people say these kinds of things to people who are single, it is as if they cannot fathom that anyone would actually want to be single. To them, it is marriage or romantic coupling that is the royal road to the good life. It is the path that leads to happiness and health and sugar and spice and everything nice.

Of course, if you have been reading my work or the most recent and most sophisticated studies of these matters, you already know that marriage is no such royal road, and in some ways, it is the people who stay single who are doing better.

What I want to share today are my favorite responses to the three comments. The first two are probably meant to be encouraging, even though they strike me as condescending. It is possible that the last one, about dying alone, says more about some fear of their own rather than a genuine concern about the single person they are addressing.

You probably have your own ways of responding to these comments. (Or maybe you just ignore them.) Here’s what I like to say.

The first one: “Don’t worry, honey – your time will come.”

My answer: “Oh, my time has come. You’re looking at it!”

The second one: “Don’t feel bad; being single is better than being in a bad relationship.”

This is like someone saying to you – that’s too bad that you have cancer; but it could have been worse – you could have had leprosy. No! Being single is not a disease. And it is not even Plan B. For people like me who love living single, being single is our first choice. It is Plan A.

And finally, the threat: “You know you are going to die alone, don’t you?”

My answer: “I hope so!”

I don’t mean that I don’t want to have any people I care about in my life. I mean that I love living alone and I hope to get to do that until the day I die. Now that, to me, would be a very good life.


[Note: For more writings about dying alone, including those published previously here at the “Single at Heart” blog, check out the section on scare stories here. If you were hoping for answers to the “why are you single” question, check out the first section here.]

Photo by the pain of fleeting joy

3 Condescending Comments Single People Often Hear and What I Say in Response

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single." Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2018). 3 Condescending Comments Single People Often Hear and What I Say in Response. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 Oct 2018
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