Are Married People Smug? Are Single People Hypersensitive?

Are Married People Smug? Are Single People Hypersensitive?

I’m a big advocate for healthy long-term relationships that lead to marriage. I believe in love. I believe in compromise. I believe in the generic vows: for better or worse, in sickness and in health, til death do us part. I never found any of this to be remotely controversial. Then I started writing a blog.

Upon which I was informed that my personal beliefs about the joy and transcendence of being in a happy marriage made me “judgmental” or “smug”. I find such claims to be somewhere between amusing and infuriating. I’m amused that my beliefs and lifestyle choices have the capacity to hurt you. If you don’t want to date online, date at all, open up to different partners, compromise, fall in love, get married and have kids, that’s 100% fine by me. If you want to work 60 hours a week, train for a triathlon, travel around the world with your girlfriends, that’s your business. You’re not wrong. But that doesn’t make me judgmental, nor does it make me smug.

So how is it that single people don’t seem to understand that married people’s lives change and that while we are less available, we still love you just as much?

I’m a dating coach for women. My job is to help those women – the vast majority of whom want to date, fall in love, and get married – achieve their goals. And yet, I can’t tell you the number of comments I’ve received suggesting that there’s something wrong with me because I don’t show proper respect to women who don’t want to fall in love and get married.

If you’re one of those women: I completely respect you. I just don’t have any idea why you’re reading my blog, which is inherently targeting women who want the kind of relationship that I have. So why am I leading off today’s blog post with this personal tangent? Because I read a juicy “Open Letter To Our Single Friends” on Clutch Magazine, in which the newly coupled up author tells her single friends that even great relationships are not cure-alls and that even women in couples really need their girlfriends. Amen. I love my wife more than anyone in the world, but I still need to hang out with other couples, play fantasy football with college friends, and go out for a guys’ night every once in awhile. Do I do these things as much as I used to? No, that would be impossible given that I live in the suburbs with two little kids, but it doesn’t mean I value my old friends any less.

Anyway, I thought this piece was well-written and non-controversial…until I read comments like this.

“Dear married friends, the phone works both ways. P.s. don’t just call when your boyfriend’s busy. Sincerely, your single friends.”

I know I’m biased, but I was single for 35 years. So how is it that single people don’t seem to understand that married people’s lives change and that while we are less available, we still love you just as much? This is a universal phenomenon and I think it shows a complete lack of understanding to guilt trip someone in a relationship for having a slightly different set of priorities. What say you, dear readers?

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  1. 31

    Yves 30 – That’s an interesting comment.  Particularly no. 1 – yes, I’ve known many lonely married women (and men).  Of course someone would want their own idea of marriage.  Why shouldn’t they? The trick is, is to make sure that your idea of marriage matches the idea of the other person, otherwise what’s the point? However, there are people who don’t know what they want, and then blame the other for not getting what they didn’t clarify in the first place!

  2. 32

    I have such strong feelings about this. The Clutch article was ludicrous at best. The main problem, as Lauryn and Michelle have touched upon, is that it is still wholly acceptable to discriminate against single people. So you end up being the person who always has to accommodate others, excluded from social events and expected to work longer hours, just because you’re single. It is tiring and depressing and patently discriminatory. Most smug marrieds do think they are special snowflakes – and most ignore huge warning signs in their relationships OR the fifty percent divorce rate.  It is crazy to me that the single person whose life has not at all changed must now accommodate the coupled individual. I have had longstanding friendships with women fall off because they can’t be on the telephone when he gets home or have to invite him out to every event. I’ve had longstanding friendships and those with men fall off because their new wives are worried I will seduce their husbands. Really though? Accommodating life’s changes is a two way street. Your choices are not better as a married person, they are just different. Many married folks refuse to acknowledge this. I wish them well, especially if they ever need to resurrect their social circles if they end up on the wrong side of the fifty percent.

  3. 33

    Explain to me how we single people know our married friends “still love us” if we never hear from them anymore? 
    What I find the most smug (or annoying) is how married people assume their single friends “have more time” and therefore should bear the responsibility of maintaining the friendship. That makes it very one-sided and causes resentment.

  4. 34

    I see where you are coming from with this article and I do agree to a certain extent. But I also feel like married people should make an effort to understand their single friends as well. It’s natural to feel loss, especially if the circle of friends we are talking about were all your closest friends. Sometimes we single people can come off as bitter because we miss our friendship And also at the same time want what you have and feel guilty that we are not just 100% happy for our friends. It’s a complicated mix of emotions, especially if you are the last girl standing. It completely sucks to lose all your friends to the world of marriage that you cannot possibly understand because you haven’t been there. It’s even harder for girls like me who have never even been on a first date let alone married. I get in my head that my friends are busy and their priorities have changed, but at the same time it’s hard not to be sad And frustrated because I don’t have their same busy schedule with a family to fill up my time. I just have a bunch of cancelled get togethers and constant reminders that I’m the odd one out. Yes you can make new single friends who understand, but that is also easier said than done for quieter people and even outgoing people. And at my age you are really hard pressed to find someone who is single. At 25 years old I no longer have any friends who aren’t in some kind of relationship and most of them are either married or engaged or are in a serious relationship. The last single friend I had just recently started dating a guy she has liked for a long time and while I am extremely happy for her it has also brought up a whole new set of really crummy emotions. Jealousy guilt and fear that you will never find that special someone are unfortunately feelings that the single one in the group is familiar with. I don’t know if guys struggle with those same emotions or not But I know a lot of girls definitely do. Sometimes it can even chip away at your self confidence. In a lot of societies still to this day there is a lot of pressure for a girl to get married and have kids and if thats not happening than something must be wrong in the eyes of a lot of your peers. So they start giving you a lot of unsolicited advice that tends to be more hurtful to the person than helpful. In the end this just winds up making the gap even bigger and contributing to the perceived bitterness or smug attitude.  I had a bit of a confidence crisis when my best friend got married. It wasn’t that I wasn’t super excited for her because I was, it’s just that girls tend to measure at least some percentage of their self worth on whether or not we’ve been in serious relationships before and tend to feel a bit competitive with other girls our age. So when we feel like we’ve been left behind by all our friends we begin to wonder if maybe there is something wrong with us. It’s pretty selfish and messed up of us but it’s true and there isn’t much you can do about those feelings. I try to be gracious and understanding and I try to accept that my friendship with them will have to change or else I’ll truly lose them, but it’s just really hard. Single people struggle too. I really think it’s a struggle on both ends, and sometimes its lot easier to just blame it on the other end instead of realizing that life is just going to have to change. Just my perspective.

  5. 35

    I guess it’s just human to do this one-up, one-down thing that we do, but in reality we are all not that different to each other!  We all get lonely.  We all feel rejected and sad when we are left out – married or single.  I’m a long time single and have so often been on the losing side of this that all these scenarios are horribly familiar.

    I wanted that happy family life as much as anyone, for various reasons it never eventuated.  There is a lot of grief in that!  I was talking to a friend the other day who’d just been accused of not being there enough for her friend who went through post natal depression, and I was saying – yes, it’s easy to understand the depression that comes from not enough sleep, from not feeling adequate enough, low self esteem etc etc.  But does your friend understand the long sleepless nights worrying about “what’s wrong with me” when you’re single?  The low self esteem, the fight against suicidal feelings, the feeling of no future – combined with society looking down at you with judgment and a lack of sympathy.  The way it feels so empty to be always the one listening and never really able to talk of how you feel.  The way it feels to be seen as a different kind of animal, a lesser one, because you live without love.

    We’re not all that different to each other.  It takes some people a lifetime to realise that – others of us learn earlier and usually the hard way.

  6. 36

    What I find somewhat smug is when married people find any excuse to use the words ‘my husband’ or ‘my wife’ around people who know them, as if others needed a reminder about their relationship status.  ‘My husband and I’ this, ‘My wife and I’ that.  We already know that you’re married.  You don’t need to sound like such a braggart, like, “Oh, have I mentioned in the last half hour that I have a husband/wife?  I have?  Well, just let me rub it in some more.”

    To quote Billy Crystal’s character in The Princess Bride, “Why don’t you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?”

    I know, I know.  It isn’t really meant like that.  But it sometimes feels that way, and speaking for myself, when I’m in a really low place it can be extremely painful to be around.  Before anyone jumps on me for posting this, I do keep these thoughts and feelings to myself.

  7. 37

    Well the marry people that were very Blessed to find one another and have a family could really care less for us single people since their life is so very much complete.

  8. 38

    The problem is that people who have not been single after 32-35 years old do not get it, it is then you discover that you are more and more excluded socially because of your single status. You do not get invited to dinner saturday evening because it is only for couples, or you are not included on girls without the man weekend trips because you don’t have a man (The woman who said that to my face is no longer considered a friend).

    Then  it is expected you work overtime so the people with children can get home and to take more than your part in holidays….

    What is most annoying is to be placed at the childrens table or together with total strangers in social settings like weddings and see that the people you know sit together and have a good time.


  9. 39
    Heather L.

    I have never been any good at making friends.  As an introvert, I lack the confidence and skills to initiate friendships.  When I was in my last year of school, I was befriended by a very popular, outgoing extrovert in my form.  Suddenly, I had a social life way beyond my expectations.  It was through her that I met Anna, another popular extrovert who had loads of other friends.  I felt awkward and embarrassed that Anna was the one contiunally making plans to get together but she seemed to understand.

    Ten years later she got married and had a baby.   Naturally, we saw less of each other.  I understood, and I knew that, if I wanted to see her more often, I would have to be the one to initiate get togethers  I didn’t know how to.  I was stuck with a personaility that just couldn’t.

    A few years later, I got married too.  I eloped. It was an absolute disaster.  My ex was controlling, abusive and violent.  I reached out to Anna for support.  She invited me over, listened and seemed both sympathetic and forgiving but then said a number of really  hurtful things:

    1.  Why don’t you get rid of him by telling him you’re schizophrenic?

    2.  Oh, well, you couldn’t go on living in a flat on your own forever.

    Good grief!  So her true feelings had finally come out.  She thought I was just a crazy person for being an introvert and choosing to live on my own.  She thought that living with a psycho was a cure for that.  Or at least that’s what she said.  She is an intelligent person who doesn’t really believe that.  I think her cruel words were coming from a place of hurt and anger.

    Then her husband came home.  “You’ll have to invite Heather to our Christmas party,” he said to Anna, cheerfully.

    Anna stared at the floor and said nothing.

    I politely thanked her for inviting me over then left, devastated.

    Six months later I moved house and didn’t give her my forwarding address.

    She didn’t dump me because she was married or even because I was.  She dumped me because she had had enough of me.  She didn’t understand me.  My introverted, passive ways sickened her. I understand that but her cruel words still hurt–even twenty years later.

    When I finally escaped from my husband, I no friends left, noone to confide in.  I still don’t.

    Sometimes, friends, like me, do wimpy, sucky things because of their own adequacies.  Other people don’t understand.  It’s just the way it is.

    Once again, I live in a flat on my own.

    I miss the carefree days of my youth with Anna and all of  our (her) friends.  I cope with it by being grateful that we were friends at all.  We were such different people.




  10. 40
    Chipped Nails

    “So how is it that single people don’t seem to understand that married people’s lives change and that while we are less available, we still love you just as much?”


    do understand your life has changed and you have other responsibilities now. But what I don’t want to be is reduced to receiving a single Christmas card from you for the next thirty years until your kids are grown. I don’t want to be marginalized in your life. You are my best friend(s), I want to be a part of your life: marriage, kids and all.


    “it doesn’t mean I value my old friends any less.”

    When I spend months and even years looking at my inbox, my voice mail, and my Facebook looking for the slightest scraps of affection, the slightest sign that you remember I even exist, I don’t feel valued. If you value me, if you value our friendship, don’t put me and our relationship on dry ice for the next thirty years. Again, include me in your life.

    1. 40.1

      Nope, you are nothing but a guest in her life now. Sorry.

  11. 41

    I agree with Julia 110%. I spend a lot of my time hearing about or spending an afternoon with your small children, and am glad to do so. But because you have a husband or children, and I do not yet, does not mean that what is going on in my life is less significant. You may feel like you don’t need me as much anymore, but I can assure you I still need and appreciate your support.  Oh, and your schedule may be more chaotic than mine but also not more important.

  12. 42

    Grass always looks greener on the other side.

  13. 43
    Patti Smith

    Wow!  My response is political as well as personal.  To me, dating is a luxury or a form of entertainment–a privilege–that the young and middle class indulge in.   I’ve just lost my insurance, the result of working three jobs and lifting myself out of poverty.  The reward:  deficit funds to cover insurance.  Please notice that my married friends who, like Emma Bovary, complain about their dull husbands and cast about for a partner for an affair, have no problem being insured by their passive husbands.  Do I care about my attractiveness to men under these circumstances?  I do not.  I would like to survive.  I’m not  intellectually impaired.  I attended an Ivy League school, but there’s only so far you can get with depression pulling you down.  I’m amazed at the superficiality of the posters here.  Do you not get that your affairs are higher-order activities and that much of the world and certainly much of this country is hurting on a far more profound and fundamental level?

  14. 44

    TBH, I won’t mind if my married friends left me for men. It’s way better than having to put with all the pressure they’d put on their single friends and make them feel bad about it

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