Let’s say you know a single woman. Maybe she’s divorced or maybe she’s a widow or maybe she’s coming off of a long-term partnership. But whatever the case, she’s now single. And she doesn’t want to be.
You, however, are married. You aren’t always happy with everything your spouse does, but you have a stable marriage. You’ve dated in the past, but that was many years ago.
So now you are watching your friend try to start dating. Maybe it’s been a really long time since you were in the dating world, and the idea of internet dating or sleeping with someone new seems really daunting.
Trust me – it’s daunting to her as well.
Maybe you don’t know what to say. Maybe all of your other friends are married, and no one ever talks about anything that could be relevant to single people. Maybe you are at a loss for words when dating comes up.
Don’t know what to do or say? Well, I’m here to help. It’s not an exhaustive list, but here are ten tips to get you started:
- If she wants help setting up a dating app or going out to a bar for the first time, drop everything and help her. Find a sitter for her kids, make your husband deal with whatever is going on in your home, and treat her initial interest in dating as a priority. Obviously, it is not your #1 priority, but trust me, your friend will appreciate this.
- Be genuinely interested in her dating life. If she wants to gush over a handsome stranger, ask questions. If she’s sad, talk to her about it. Trust me, if most of your collective friends are married, there will be a lot of people who never ask her about this, but who still talk a lot about the dramas with their own husbands. You can do that too – but only if you’re also asking about her love life too.
- Unless your friend is a total idiot, assume she knows to protect herself. Do not make comments like, “how are you going to make sure you don’t get an STD? You never know what people have these days!” If you’re a really good friend, go with her to buy condoms.
- When dating is not going well for your friend (and this will happen, no matter how awesome your friend is – no one who is actively dating has only good stories) be the person who says this: “This blows. I hate that you feel this way because you are awesome. Not just a little awesome, but the type of person who (fill in this area with specific awesome things about your friend that she can’t dismiss, like how she wrote a damn book last year or has a really great haircut).”
- Do not, under any circumstances, use the phrase, “you’ll find someone when you least expect it.” First of all, that’s not really true. Second, it’s a platitude that helps no one. Third, it’s demoralizing to someone who is actively trying to date.
- If your friend is up for it, set her up! If you don’t know any single guys, try harder. I’m actually serious here – make it your mission to talk to that guy at the local coffee shop you heard was single or the man who works at the rock climbing gym who has really kind eyes. There are single men out there and it’s easier for you to ask if they are single because you aren’t actually looking!
- If she’s feeling down, don’t tell her “it hasn’t been that long, really!” Because to someone who is still single after actively trying for weeks or months or years, it feels like an eternity. Related, do not act like it will be easy for her to find men to date, and don’t try and put the blame on her when she’s home alone on another Saturday night. She’s trying, dammit, and it’s not like you can just pluck available men out of thin air!
- If you see a fun singles-like event (maybe a running club, or a meet-up at a bar) offer to go with her even though you are married. Wear your wedding ring and tell your husband to chill out if he gets his feathers ruffled by this idea. You’re doing this for her. She might not want to go alone and you might be the only person who volunteers to go with her.
- If she gets dumped, keep a special eye on her. Don’t push her to “get back out there” right away; let her wallow a bit. In fact, go over and bring wine.
- If she gets a serious boyfriend, and she seems genuinely happy, be happy for her. Yes, maybe the new boyfriend isn’t exactly who you thought she was going to end up with. But that doesn’t matter because you are not dating him – she is. And she likes him a lot, so unless he’s literally a criminal or a truly repellant person, your job is to support her choices.
Okay, there’s more, because of course there’s more. But that’s a starter kit for those of you helping our your newly single friend. It’s not easy, and you’ll mess up a lot. But your friend will be forever grateful that you are the one she can text about all this stuff, even though you are still married. She will love that you care about her so much that you are happy to go outside your comfort zone and help her to do something that can be really difficult.
She will think: that’s my married friend, the one who really cares about my dating life. The one who really cares about my happiness. The one who really cares about me.