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Here is how single and married friends can co-exist peacefully

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Interaction between single and married individuals can sometimes be fraught with misunderstandings and unintentional hurt.

These two groups often navigate different life stages and priorities, leading to varying perspectives and expectations. For singles, interactions with married friends or acquaintances might evoke feelings of inadequacy or exclusion if not approached with sensitivity. Married individuals, however, might unintentionally overlook the unique challenges and perspectives of their single counterparts.

To bridge this divide and cultivate meaningful relationships, both single and married individuals can adopt certain principles that foster mutual respect and appreciation when relating to each other.

Psychological dynamics

Rebecca Nabaggala, a clinical psychologist, emphasises the importance of empathy, saying it is crucial in any relationship. Both single and married individuals should strive to understand and appreciate each other’s perspectives without judgment.

Nabaggala adds that single and married individuals should be open and honest in their communication. Singles’ open dialogue about feelings and boundaries can make them feel comfortable, expressing their concerns about feeling sidelined or devalued, while married individuals should be receptive to this feedback without being defensive.

Nabaggala further explains that feelings of inadequacy or exclusion experienced by singles in the presence of married friends often stem from societal pressures and internalised beliefs. Society often places undue emphasis on romantic relationships as a marker of success. Singles may feel devalued because of this cultural narrative. Married individuals need to validate and celebrate the autonomy and worth of their single friends.

“By reframing conversations to focus on shared interests and experiences rather than relationship status, meaningful connections can be forged,” Nabaggala states.

Stereotypes and misconceptions

James Kayondo, a sociologist, says stereotypes about singles being carefree or lonely and married individuals being settled or fulfilled can lead to misunderstandings. He emphasizes the need to recognise that individuals are multifaceted and cannot be defined solely by their relationship status. He suggests promoting open conversations to challenge these stereotypes.

“Encourage honest discussions about the joys and challenges of different life stages. By sharing experiences authentically, both singles and married individuals can gain a deeper appreciation of each other’s realities,” he says.

Inclusive social spaces

Maria Rosette Mirembe, a psychologist, says fostering inclusivity in social settings is key to nurturing meaningful relationships between single and married individuals. Organising diverse social gatherings that cater to various interests and preferences can help break down barriers.

“When planning events, consider activities that everyone can enjoy regardless of their relationship status. Avoid exclusively couple-centric gatherings that may inadvertently alienate singles. Encourage diverse participation and ensure everyone feels valued and welcomed,” Mirembe advises.

Mutual support and collaboration

Interactions between single and married individuals can be an opportunity for mutual support and collaboration. They can encourage shared hobbies or group activities that capitalise on each other’s strengths. This can cultivate a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect among themselves even when their status is different.

Kayondo underscores the importance of recognising that everyone has something valuable to contribute irrespective of their relationship status.

“Above all, cultivate respect for individual choices. Whether single or married, every person’s journey is valid. Avoid imposing societal expectations or stereotypes on others and instead, celebrate the autonomy and freedom to choose one’s path,” Kayondo stresses.

Empathy forms the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. Mirembe notes that married individuals should strive to understand the experiences and emotions of their single friends without dismissing or diminishing them. Acknowledging that every life path is unique and valid can help nurture a supportive and inclusive environment.

To maintain a good relationship between singles and married individuals, suggests statements individuals can avoid using when interacting with single friends.

How are you still single?

This is meant as a compliment, but it can come off as somewhat offensive. Being surprised that someone great is single assumes that there is something inherently wrong with single people; that they somehow deserve the “punishment” of singleness. However, being single is not necessarily the symptom of some big flaw, just as being in a relationship does not necessarily mean you are healthy.

“Use this time to better yourself!”

Everyone should constantly be bettering themselves; single, married, adolescent or senior citizen. Saying this “gift” of free time allows singles to become the best version of themselves sometimes comes off as claiming that people in relationships do not need to do the same. Or, worse, that people need to reach some level of near perfection before they can be worthy of a relationship.

Instead of assuming your friend is waiting for someone else to spur their personal growth, celebrate what God is already doing in their life.

“Marriage is so great!”

Non-singles need to realise that marriage is already portrayed as the ideal in so many facets of life; in movies, in pop culture, and especially in the Church. We do not need more voices telling us how perfect having a plus one makes your life.

…That is why you are single

Unless you are a deep, personal friend of someone’s and feel called to enter into a deep, vulnerable conversation with them, never say this, even if you have heard them joke about it from time to time. Reasons for being single are usually not up for discussion with mere acquaintances; they are typically very personal and unique to each person. Making a joke out of it does more harm than good.


Single and married individuals should be open and honest in their communication.

For example, Singles’ open dialogue about feelings and boundaries can make them feel comfortable, expressing their concerns about feeling sidelined or devalued, while married individuals should be receptive to this feedback without being defensive.