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Single Women: Yes, You Are Qualified To Talk About Relationships

It never fails. Even though I’ve been writing on relationships for well over two decades at this point and have been counseling couples (especially married couples) for about 17 years now, at least once a week, someone will ask me what qualifies me to be an expert being that I’ve never been married before and I don’t have any children.

Well…when it’s church folks who try to come at me with their cynicism, I’m quick to remind them that out of the three biblical characters who spoke the most on marriage in the Bible — Moses, Christ, and Paul — only one of them was actually married when they did (Moses). Plus, humans don’t need other humans to qualify them for a particular purpose or calling in life; that’s God’s job.


Okay, but what do I say to all of the other people from other walks of life who seem to think that their similar line of questioning is somehow supposed to stump/trump me or something? That’s a really great question, especially since it’s been widely reported that by the year 2030, 45 percent of women will be single and childless in this country. That’s a lot of single voices out here. That’s why I thought it might be helpful to share some food for thought for other single women who may have folks who try and challenge them in this department too.

If you happen to be a single woman and a part of you is either hesitant to speak up whenever the topic of relationships comes up, or you’re not sure what to say when you see (or read) social media posts that say, for example, “If you’re not married, you don’t need to be talking about marriage” — here are a few things that can definitely checkmate some of the skeptics who are in your wake.

Never Forget What Singleness Means

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Back in 2019, two articles that I wrote for the platform are “10 Words That'll Make You Totally Rethink The Word 'Single'” and “10 Bona Fide Benefits Of Being Single.” There are two (main) reasons why I did so — one is because I think it’s always important to remember that each relational status has some major benefits to it, and two, chile, if you only knew the number of married folks who tell me that they wish they had embraced and hell, even respected their singleness prior to saying “I do”…it’s more people than not at this point.

Indeed, although marriage is a beautiful thing, in life, it is not the ONLY thing. Not only that, but the daily sacrifices that must be made in order to keep a marriage thriving? Those are things that single people never have to worry about. And listen, if marriage was the “end all to be all” for this world, the Most High could’ve come up with a way for us to get married sooner than most of us do (or even should).

Singleness isn’t a deficit or even a consolation prize. For starters, just look at some of the words that are used to define it (definitions) along with others that are directly associated with it (synonyms): distinct from other things, unique, original, special, exclusive, exceptional, peerless, rare, undivided, unrivaled, uncompounded and unusual.

Hmph. I don’t know about y’all, but personally, I would have no problem with people who are defined that way speaking into my life. Just saying. #Elmoshrug

Have You Checked Out the Divorce Stats Lately?

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Our culture can be weird as hell sometimes. Like, why is it that so many people want to low-key shame singles out of offering up insights, perspectives, and even pearls of wisdom on relationships, yet divorced people aren't challenged in the same way? Because while single folks may have never been married before (I count “single” the way the IRS does: single until married, and technically, divorced people are classified as being “divorced” because, again, Uncle Sam), divorced means that two people were, for whatever the reason, unsuccessful at making their marriage work — so that sounds like they aren’t exactly experts either.

And being that the divorce rate for first-time marriages is still about half (although some studies say that it’s between 40-50 percent these days) and the rate for second and third are significantly higher — I never got why being divorced vs. choosing to not get married so that there’s no way that you can end up divorced, seems to earn more credibility. Who came up with that? Divorced folks?

It actually reminds me of a divorced aunt who tried to be slick and say to me several years ago, “How are you out here getting paid to talk about marriage when you’ve never experienced it before?” I mean, we share the same DNA, so I don’t know why she thought I wasn’t gonna “return the serve”: “I would prefer to never be married than be a divorce statistic. You’re one…right?”

Listen, when it comes to divorce, sometimes ya live, and ya learn and I have had many conversations with people who happen to fit into that demographic and have had some profound words to share, no question. Yet when it comes to actually believing that divorced people have more credibility, there are two things to keep in mind.

One, as someone who has been working with married and divorced people for almost two decades now, you’d be amazed how many individuals from both demographics say that they took a lot for granted while they were single. Not only that, but they wish that they had paid more attention to what their gut warned them about before becoming a husband or wife. In other words, many have said that they had a lot of relational insight when they were single…they just ignored it.

And two, if I were to compare singles to divorced folks, I would use studying a test vs. taking a test to further illustrate my point. Don’t assume that just because someone has never taken a test before that they have not studied, sometimes ad nauseam, the content that’s on it. And, at the same time, sometimes the ones who already have — taken the test, that is — and were unsuccessful at passing, they ended up in that situation because they didn’t prepare as much as they should’ve.

Because, let us not forget (or ignore), that the ultimate goal when it comes to being in a relationship is not just “being in one” — all of us can do that. No, the key is to be in a healthy relational dynamic. People who are learning, striving, and respecting what it takes to be in those? That’s who we should be taking heed from.

This brings me to my next point.

Wisdom, Knowledge and Discernment Do Not Relationally Discriminate

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An artist and author by the name of Tamara Kulish once said something that I rock with wholeheartedly: “Everyone is my teacher. Some I seek. Some I subconsciously attract. Often, I learn simply by observing others. Some may be completely unaware that I’m learning from them, yet I bow deeply in gratitude.” I like this because it amplifies the fact that when you are truly serious about and committed to becoming the best version of yourself, you appreciate wisdom and knowledge in any form that it comes.

That said, there are countless married and even boo’d up couples who tell me that I continue to offer up ways of looking at relationships that they have never considered before, even though they are in a relationship, and a huge part of the reason is that I study the topic. I am literally a student of marriage (no joke). The number of books that are in my possession, articles, podcasts, and links that I have bookmarked, Scriptures that I have analyzed — you have no idea. Plus, being single, even if/when you go by my definition, which again is “never been married before,” doesn’t mean that you don’t know about relationships at all.

I’ll give you another comparison: back when I was in these streets, as far as sex goes, you have no idea how much foresight, intelligence, and basic common sense I received from virgins — that’s because, just because they never had sex before, that didn’t mean they didn’t know a thing or two about self-worth, avoiding temptation and waiting for what was right instead of settling for what was around. I would’ve been an idiot to write them off on some, “Girl, if you’ve never had sex before, you can’t talk to me about sex.” They might not know how to fully address the actual act (I frame it that way because many virgins are that on a technicality; they’ve done something before), yet they can definitely help me to think about some things that will help me to make wiser sexual decisions.

Single people are no different when it comes to marriage (or serious long-term relationships) — believe you me, you get a hold of the right single folks, and they can give you plenty to think about as they offer up a myriad of seeds to give you some “ah-ha moments” that can do you some real good. It reminds me of something that my mother used to say: “Discernment prevents experience from being your teacher.” Some of the wisest people in their world are ones who don’t believe that they have to go through something in order to be insightful about it.

Case in point. As a doula, sometimes when I’m being interviewed, and I give advice on some parenting-related matters, a person will say, “How do you know all of this if you’ve never had a child before?” More times than not, my immediate response is, “I’ve never been a mom. Oh, but I’ve been a child. You’d be amazed how much I remember about that time in my life.” (Plus, I used to be a teen mom director for the local chapter of a national non-profit). And honestly, sometimes that’s what I tell people about being a marriage life coach too. Chile, your mind would be blown to sit at the feet of child/adult child survivors of their parents’ divorce…but that’s another topic for another time.

The point that I’m trying to make with this particular point is wisdom is about applying knowledge with mature judgment; knowledge is about obtaining facts, truth, and principles through various forms of study and investigation, and discernment, by definition, is about judging matters, wisely, with a heightened level of understanding.

Now, based on the meanings of these three words…sounds to me like anyone who says that a single person can’t enter the relationship discourse with their own level of wisdom, knowledge, and discernment is pretty ignorant of what those words actually mean. Therefore, they should probably start there. #Elmoshrug

You Are a Voice in This World

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Somebody really needs to give actor and singer (because she really can sing her ass off) Tisha Campbell her flowers because she really has been a part of some of the most classic moments in Black culture — including the time when she had a guest role in, what continues to be one of the most iconic television sitcoms of all time: A Different World. The real ones will remember when she played a young woman by the name of Josie who had HIV. During a particular scene where she shared her story, her professor (Whoopi Goldberg) said to her, “You are a voice in this world.”

Now imagine how ridiculous someone would sound to say that Josie doesn’t need to speak about relationships because she chose not to date because of her condition. Josie had a TON of insight because she saw life from a perspective that a lot of people didn’t have — and if they respected that, what she offered up was priceless. Yes, she was a voice in this world. And a powerful one at that…so much so that I still remember that episode to this day and (lawd) that was 32 freakin’ years ago.

Even with as much daily and consistent work as I do in the realm of marriage, of course, I would be quite arrogant and presumptuous to think that some things do not come via experience; that as I am sharing wisdom and knowledge on the topic with various married people, they are teaching me as well, just by being a husband or a wife. And divorced folks, at the very least, they can speak on what not to do. At the same time, though, no one is capable of silencing my own voice just because of my chosen relational status.

If anything, the ones who aren’t parroting what they hear others say, they have applauded me for taking what I have learned seriously enough to treat marriage as sacred enough to wait until it's right…for me. That move alone has caused them to honor the voice that I have…in this world.

So single ladies, don’t worry about the haters. Humble people who want to grow get that this world is a school and everyone is a teacher in it. Houseless people (what I call “homeless” ones) can give insights on finances. Substance abusers can give insight into sobriety. Atheists can give insight into religion. People without kids can give insight into parenting. Women can give insight into men. Men can give insight into women.

And yes, single people can give insight into marriage and relationships.

You are a voice in this world.

With the help of wisdom, knowledge, and keen discernment, make sure that you do.

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Featured image by zusek/Getty Images

 

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