A guide to coping with parents when single

A tough time for everyone involved

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I hope you have brilliant, accepting parents, who love you for exactly who you are. Unfortunately, my mother can’t quite grasp that I’ve happily managed 19 years of life without a serious romantic partner. If you too struggle with the frequent nuisance of perplexed parents, I hope these guidelines stand you in good stead:

Keep mentioning of new friends to a minimum

The minute I mention a new, male name, I’ve learnt to leave a gap for my mother’s ensuing ‘ooh’ before I continue in conversation. Is what you’re telling them absolutely crucial? No? Then leave the name out.

Also, whatever you do, do not rebut their ‘ooh’ with ‘oh no, he/she has a boyfriend/girlfriend’. Apparently this doesn’t confirm your lack of romantic interest. Instead, in the eyes of your pitying mother this response indicates unrequited love, leading to a change of tone along the lines of ‘oh darling I’m sorry to hear that’.

Living the dream

Don’t tell them about any romantic involvement until you are at least engaged

Now this might seem counter-intuitive, but telling them early merely leads to more patronising disappointment when the involvement is broken off. Better they slowly learn to cope with your singledom, then you build them up only to bring their dreams crashing down around them every few months… Or years…

Humour them

It’s not the end of the world to allow them to tell you all about ‘how Jo’s son is so handsome now! And he’s got a PhD in nuclear biology at the age of 20, he’s been working with NASA, he’s also solved global warming, and he’s so good with children!’ Whilst it may be difficult to disguise your mixture of anger and mortification at their cringe-worthy match-making, smiling and nodding will appease them, and thus hopefully prevent more drastic behaviour on their part.

Forever alone

Allow them to fabricate

On the subject of Jo and her wonderful son, it doesn’t hurt if mum drops a few white lies. Therefore, if she accidentally implies you’re practically engaged, during an escalating game of one-upmanship, let it slide – your fabricated fiancée can always be killed off, preferably while he/she is saving fabricated orphans somewhere fabricated and dangerous. It’s your fault anyway, if it were you with the PhD in nuclear biology, none of this would even be necessary.

Don’t have siblings

Yes, yes, I know you perhaps don’t have too much control over this, but honestly, siblings cause no end of trouble. There’s always the one who learned to walk faster, or had a more interesting first word (my ‘hello’ just can’t match my sister’s ‘hallelujah’). But no siblings = no standards to compare to. There is just nothing worse than your 12 year old brother being in a committed relationship while you sit lonely in the corner at all family parties, drowning your sorrows in wine and Doritos.


Make yourself seem busy and important

You are a high-achieving scholar, with a hectic social life, various extra-curricular commitments (okay, you ‘sit’ on a couple of committees) and many high-profile demands on your time. You simply don’t have time for petty affairs of the heart.

Accuse them of fuelling the patriarchy

How dare they even imply you need someone else in your life. You’re acing this whole existence thing all on your own, thank you very much. (If you’re a guy, sorry this doesn’t apply to you. P.S. while I’ve got your attention, if you can’t tell, I’m still single (wink emoticon xoxoxo)

Who wouldn’t want a piece of this?

Accept references to high school boyfriends/girlfriends

If you made the foolish error of ‘going out with’ someone in your early high school years, expect to have them referenced for the rest of your life. I ‘dated’ an Andy for approximately two weeks in year 10, and my mother still giggles every time the name is mentioned. There is absolutely nothing you can do about this, I’m sorry. I really am sorry.

Remember, despite your mother’s incessant worrying, it’ll all turn out okay. If not, in 30 years’ time give me a call. I’ll almost certainly be alone with my cats, and my mum will have disowned me, so I’ll probably be free for a chat.