I think isolation results from my own perception of the situation. An evening hanging out with a bunch of married couples doesn’t seem like a good time for a single adult. I would probably assume I would feel isolated or unable to relate to anyone. I would probably find a way to excuse myself from the event. I picture myself sitting in a chair as couples gather in love seats around the room. They sip coffee or wine as they discuss politics, retirement plans, and college funds for their children. I sit in my chair wondering if anyone saw that incredible movie I’ve been wanting to discuss. But that’s how I picture it – not necessarily how it is. Sure, there may be some people who switch into some “married couple mode,” or as Jon Acuff from Stuff Christians Like puts it, “Your friends that have been married for 15 minutes act like they suddenly don’t remember anything about dating and therefore can’t give you any advice. ‘It’s been so long since I dated, things have changed so much. I’m just out of that whole scene.'” I have learned, however, that there are married couples out there who are so welcoming and hospitable to the single people in their lives. These are the married couples who don’t make you painfully aware of your singleness. You admire their marriage, but with them you are not ashamed to have a life that lacks a marriage like theirs. With them, you are just a friend.
I do sense some isolation among other single adults who have different attitudes toward singleness and marriage. For example, some single women I know are in their late 30s or older, each with at least one ex-husband. They dump men who don’t make enough money; they joke (maybe?) about finding husbands who make enough money so they can maintaining their shopping habits without working. Call me naive or idealistic, but I’m looking for love. I haven’t found it yet, and until then I remain single. I’m not interested in being a 30-year-old gold-digger with three ex-husbands. Because of our difference in opinions about relationships, despite the common ground of our status as single women, I find it hard to relate to them. I’ve been told before by women like them that my standards are too high, and with them I feel ideologically – and maybe even socially – alone and isolated.
It is important to note that singleness does not need to go hand-in-hand with isolation. As we discussed in response to Question 4, single people can avoid isolation and loneliness by including people who love and support them in their lives. I feel fortunate to have good friends – and the opportunity to make new friends – in my life. Over the past week, I’ve been able to spend time with friends, some of whom are also single. We’ve watched TV specials, gathered for meals, prayed together, gone bowling, played games, and generally enjoyed each others’ company. Because of my friends, I have no excuse to feel isolated or alone. But I will be honest and say I’ve had to work for this. I had to get out of my home and go through the awkward and uncomfortable process of meeting new people in order to make new friends. But again, in honesty, no longer feeling isolated is worth the discomfort that meeting new people can bring.