When you’ve been single for as long as I have, approximately twice to thrice a year you will marvel at how steeply the odds are stacked against you. Far from being elastic enough to stretch and accommodate the lifestyle of single women, our social structures struggle to simply comprehend her.
She will usually be slotted into one of three categories: the wild and promiscuous type, the workaholic (or the one who was so busy with her career that she missed the marriage bus), and the one who wanted to get married but never found the right person (this one, I’d say, is the worst because of the constant pity it generates). Aside from the fact that for a single man these categories never serve to indict their singlehood (on the contrary, for men, all three would be points of celebration, the last a tribute to his unattainability), that the single woman experience can be as layered and subjective as the married experience, is something that eludes almost everyone.
If you want to talk to single woman, what you first need to do is be aware of the privileges you have and the ones she doesn’t. Respect her space and don’t just try to shove her into a category. Every single woman has layers, and, as long as you keep your manners about you, talking to them should be a piece of cake.
10 Practical Tips For Talking To Single Women
Single women are often independent beings. Even if they do get lonely sometimes, they learn to appreciate their alone time more than people in relationships do. So, they may sometimes seem more opinionated and headstrong, and intimidating than women in relationships. But that is not necessarily true.
As long as you respect their boundaries and don’t try to shove unsolicited advice down their throats, you can talk to and get along with them just fine. But, with scattered and, more often than not, one-dimensional, misleading representation in film and TV, a few general tips sometimes do come in handy when you want to talk to single woman:
1. Know your privilege
If you are married/in a heterosexual relationship, appreciate right at the outset that you are, hyperbolic as it may sound, privileged. Because however much you may sympathize with single women and the challenges they face, the society we live in is built around families of marriage.
And you, even without meaning to, are a part of it. From twin-sharing travel deals to gated family housing complexes to the absence of the shield of a Plus 1 at hostile social gatherings, the single person is either an afterthought or the perfect target to aim your unsolicited tips for single people at. Respect that it’s hard to be a single girl. Admire single women (yes, choosing to be unique is worthy of admiration!). Desist from offering advice or opinions, yet if you must, acknowledge that your context is very different from hers.
Related Reading: How Being A Single Muslim Woman Is Not Very Different
2. Know she gets lonely too
When we talk to you about why it’s hard, don’t say something like, “I used to be single too; I know what it’s like; here’s some tips for single women that should work.” Sentences like that exemplify that you don’t remember being single. This tends to also feed into the catch-22 situation all single women must negotiate: on the one hand, everyone will tell you to date/put yourself out there/marry; on the other hand, if you ever say that you do feel lonely, you’ll be immediately chastised because that goes against the non-negotiable requirement that single women be strong and never confess loneliness.
Here’s the thing. When you are married, you may feel lonely. Single people also feel lonely — different kinds of loneliness. So, instead of constantly interrupting with advice when you talk to single woman, actually listen for a change. Everyone loves good listeners. Maybe she will too.
3. Don’t offer unsolicited advice
Single girls aren’t aliens. They are people who have made confident well-informed choices in their lives. Just because these choices don’t match yours doesn’t mean they aren’t valid and shouldn’t find a place in the world we live in. So, talk with women with the respect and manners you would give to your male acquaintances. Don’t try to shove your opinions and tips for single women down her throat. Don’t ask if she’s still hung up over their ex. Respect their choices and they will respect yours.
4. Talk to them like you would talk to anyone else
Talk to woman you would talk to any other normal human being. Talk about their interest and talk about yours. Actually, strike up a conversation both of you enjoy instead of staring at their chest the entire time.
5. Don’t be creepy
Talking to women is easy. Just don’t be creepy when you talk to single woman. A great tips for single guys looking to talk to a single woman is to remember that the person in front of you is not an object meant to give viewing and sexual pleasure. So, approach her and talk to woman as you would any other person with feelings and interests and a life outside of the bar you just found her drinking alone at.
Related Reading: How To Be Single And Why
6. Respect her space
If she says she wants to be left alone, leave her alone. If you want to know how to speak to women, know that no means no. If she just said no when you asked her if you could buy her a drink, don’t keep pushing. Talk with women who are actually inclined and interested in spending the energy to speak to you. Not every girl drinking at a bar alone is down for a quick shag. Persistence is not the key here. Respect for consent and her space are. If she rejects you, just walk away with your dignity intact. She’ll respect you all the more for it.
7. Try to be funny
Girls have humor. They get jokes. So, instead of trying age-old and sexist pick-up lines on her, when you talk to woman, why not try a non-problematic joke as an icebreaker? Everyone likes talking to funny people. Chances are, she will too. Just make sure that your joke is actually funny instead of misogynistic, racist, or problematic in general. Stupid and lame puns are great. Sexist jokes are not.
8. Don’t be condescending
Speaking of sexism, try not to call her “baby”, “babe”, “love” etc. the moment you meet and talk to single woman. Sure, some women do like that. But when learning how to speak to women, note that it is way better to use those terms once you know she likes it. If not, chances are that you are just going to come off as creepy, misogynistic, and condescending at the same time – which is really not a good combo to be honest. It is the 21st century and the dating vocab has upgraded – so, you should definitely look into updating yours too.
9. Know that there is no one way to talk to women
There is no one silver bullet answer to how to speak to women. But, in case you are not confident, know that being shy and nervous is fine. Being awkward is fine. Not every good-looking single woman is super confident either. As long as you remember your manners and respect her space, you are fine.
10. Respect our choices
Lastly, my fellow single girls, rally around each other. Enough people are deriding us, without all of us adding to the mockery too.
My Experience Of Being Single
Circling back to my own life, being alone wasn’t something I planned. Like assorted personal experiences, it was something I discovered, unexpectedly. I don’t believe it’s necessarily a permanent state of being. The bar is high though because singlehood in your 30s can be both isolating and incredibly liberating. In essence, I’ve learned more about myself; I love my own company, I haven’t languished in embarrassingly one-sided love affairs unlike in my 20s, my crushes are more for my entertainment than for the benefit of the men I’m crushing on, dating is lighter, healthier and fun since there’s no pressure for it to lead to something bigger (equally, it’s okay if it does). I have – metaphorical and literal – rooms of my own.
Now imagine if our societies were less heteronormative, treated marriage with a certain amount of levity and didn’t seek to overrule the single female experience, instead, giving it space to be. The order of things wouldn’t collapse. You’d only have a richer society where everyone would respect everyone else’s space – whether the person in front of them is a single women or not. Maybe then no one would make a big deal out of talking to women and remember that we are all humans in the end, with our own interests, dislikes, and right to make our own choices.
Talk to them like you would talk to any other human being you want to get acquainted with. Talk to them with interest and respect. Listen and don’t interrupt while they talk. Talk about your interests and ask about hers and you are good to go.
Every single woman has heard every pickup line out there. Her message requests on Facebook are probably full of them. So, instead of a pickup line, try asking genuinely interesting questions about her life, family, and career. Remember not to get too personal from the very beginning, though.
Don’t ask if she is a lesbian. Worse, if she says she is bisexual, definitely don’t ask if she is up for a threesome. And if you lead your advances with “So, are you one of those feminist types?”, know that the conversation is doomed from that moment. Respect is key. Remember that.