What It Means To Be Single At 31

As I sat in staff meeting on Monday with a bunch of married folks, the conversation somehow turned towards how sad it is to live alone. One said he felt sorry for me, hoped I’d find my husband soon, said I should get a dog for company, etc. I wasn’t sure if I should be insulted or grateful, but I knew I didn’t like the conversation. Or the hundreds of others like it that I’ve had with very well-intentioned people.

So it prompted a lot of thinking on my part, as it always does, about what it means to be single at 31.

It means that I am often looked upon with pity, patted on the head, and told, “Don’t worry, honey, your prince will come.”

It means that everyone gives me advice about how to meet Mr. Right, and that I’ve had a lot of bad dates. Really bad dates.

It means that my dreams of being a wife and mother, of spending the rest of my life caring for my own family and bringing my children up in the grace and knowledge of Christ, seem a little more far-fetched with every passing year.

It means that I have to listen to 19 and 20 year olds bemoan that they are so lonely and they thought they’d be married by now. And that I have to refrain from punching them in the face.

It means hearing from others who had to wait longer that it could be worse . . . and not feeling a tiny bit better.

It means that as I advocate adoption and yearn deeply to care for orphans myself, I just keep sending money and looking at their faces on the Internet as I pray because there is no daddy for me to bring them home to yet.

It means that I become a part of everyone else’s families, and I get to color and laugh and eat with them – but then I have to go home alone while they get most of the snuggles and bedtime stories and groggy good mornings.

It means that I capture tons of memories for others through my lens, and I create their family albums, while my album remains empty.

It means that sometimes I go for days without any physical contact, which feels like an eternity to this touchy-feely-must-have-real-hugs-to-survive girl.

It means that the other half of my bed always feels cold and empty. I’ve never slept in the middle – I guess I’m saving it for someone.

It means that I have to search far and wide for other singles to take trips with me because my married friends can’t leave with the kids.

Or it means that I have to travel by myself, and who wants to go to Disney World alone?

It means being fully aware that I have two older sisters who are also still single, and wondering if it’s a family curse.

It means being fully aware that my sisters feel the same ache, and that they will want to punch me in the face should ever I marry before them.

It means hearing at every family reunion that we are the only cousins who are still single. Mostly, it means avoiding every family reunion.

It means having to listen to a bunch of people tell me that they just KNOW this is my year, that God told them I was going to meet my husband at work/school/church/the grocery store. Why didn’t God tell me?

It means wondering what’s wrong with me, why I keep attracting the sorta-kindas instead of the just-rights, and what I should be doing differently. If I lost weight? Dressed differently? Changed churches? Moved? Would any of these things make a lick of difference?

It means occasionally looking with envy at those who seem “less-than,” but still got their men before I got mine. And it means being severely ashamed of myself for ever even having such a thought.


It means that I get the privilege of being a part of other families! And I get to color and eat and laugh with so many precious ones!

It means that I watch others who have found love, and I genuinely rejoice with them.

It means that I use my lens to capture memories for others, and I’m going to be really good at it when my own family is finally built by love.

It means that I don’t even need a lens to capture memories because I hold each one so dearly in my heart and mind.

It means that God has a perfect plan for me, one which is cause for rejoicing, and that there is nothing “wrong” with me.

It means that I can pray with deep understanding for others in similar circumstances, and I can spur them on in the Lord.

It means that I’ve had years and years to work on my own character flaws, to grow in wisdom, to seek the will of my Father.

It means that I’ve had years and years to observe so many marriages and parenting styles, and I have a wealth of information/knowledge/experience from which to draw.

It means that I can travel whenever I want to wherever I want.

It means that I can hog the covers, hold the remote, and set the thermostat as low or as high as I desire.

It means that I can take phone calls in the middle of the night, that I can drop everything in an instant to hold my friend’s hand as she miscarries, that I can care for and pray with and help anyone at any time without having to pause and ask how it will affect my family.

It means that every touch, every kiss, every embrace means that much more to me.

It means that I can choose to wait for “the one” – that I can petition the Lord on his behalf, that I can do everything possible to become the woman he deserves, that I can write love songs now that will be meant only for his ears later.

It means that I can recognize that it’s not about me.

It means that I am more than willing to hand over the remote when the time comes.

It means that I can serve the Lord wholeheartedly, with reckless abandon.

It means that I can practice the faith I say that I have – that I can trust . . . I must trust that I really am in the hands of the living God.

And that if I have no other love for the rest of my life, He is still more than enough.


27 thoughts on “What It Means To Be Single At 31

  1. Nice blog. As a 36 year old single gal, I feel your pain. I also believe that this is a mission in trust and faith and I believe that the Lord will bless us for waiting on his will and that we didn’t get married to just be married to the wrong person. I truly believe that if marriage is the desire of your heart, the Lord will definitely bless you with. I love being single and have a life that is fulfilling in ways my married friends will never know and for that I am thankful! I have a lot of thoughts on this subject, way too more than I can put on this comment, but I will leave you with this. I’ll pray for you if you pray me. And I can’t wait t ok hear what the Lord has in store for you!

  2. I recently tearfully said to a friend of mine, (who was sharing with me that she is going to be a grandma), “When is it going to be my turn?”
    Her answer: this is your turn……
    It hurt, but she was right. I’ve been trying to willfully do that – enjoy the turn I have in loving other people’s children and grandchildren with the deepest love I know. Your blog touched that part of my heart again. It’s all in choosing to think on the second half of your list, even though you feel the first half more loudly sometimes.

    • Oh, how I know you can relate, Lora. Thank you for sharing this with me. May God continue to hold you close and whisper truth into your ear.

  3. As a young widower I get a lot of the same comments and remarks you do, but I loved how you put it: “God’s perfect plan.”

    Keep writing Amber, “Muddy Art” continues to be one of my favorite reads.


    • Thank you so much, Eric. The way you have followed me from blog to blog, and continually encouraged me to write, is a blessing to me. The old days at muddyart.com (when I actually wrote regularly!) were good days. Thanks for reminding me. And yes, God’s plan for you is perfect, too!

  4. Nice read, Amber.
    I could have written this when I was 31, but since here I am at 47 and still single, things are much better now. If it’s any comfort (and I’m guessing it won’t be for you at this point), people started to give up and leave me alone with the “don’t worry, you’ll find somebody” thing when I hit my 40s. I no longer get that vague sense of pity from others, but, rather, they see my freedom and seem jealous.
    Interestingly, when my perspective changed from “waiting” mode to acceptance mode (with the fact that I may never marry), I had true peace for the first time. In waiting mode, I felt sort of in limbo, with a nagging and constant dissatisfaction with life, like I didn’t want to do certain things or make certain decisions or even buy certain furniture (like a new single bed) because it might go to waste if I married.
    So, I asked God to change my attitude to focusing on what I DO have (as you do in your second half above) and not what I DON’T have — and that did an amazing thing for me. I realized I have a tremendously rich, fulfilling and complete life, as is. And I stopped waiting — I bought my house, bought my furniture, expanded my friendship circle with other singles in my same boat and went on my vacations. Now, my married friends’ kids are mostly grown up and they have more time to hang out again.
    Yes, I’ve missed out on many wonderful experiences my married friends with kids got to enjoy, but they’ve also missed out on a lot of things I’ve gotten to enjoy — freedom (I control the remote — always), independence (yes, I mow my own lawn and change my own oil), availability to make a bigger difference in the world because I’m not too busy taking care of my family, and I could go on. This isn’t the life I envisioned for myself — but it is a wonderful life. 🙂

    • I am positive that anyone who tries to take your remote will have a fight on their hands. But maybe your honey will just let you win. 😉

  5. I hope it’s not a family curse! And, I wouldn’t punch you in the face if you get married before me! …maybe just the arm. 🙂

  6. Oh, it worked! Finally! It seems maybe I had an old account with WordPress and it was trying to access that, and of course I don’t have that password anymore (if I ever did). Anyway, I just reread your post and had tears in my eyes *again*… I am not one who cries easily, either. I just want you to know that I am SO INCREDIBLY PROUD OF YOU for your godly and wise attitudes as you go through life – taking whatever it dishes out. So many things in our lives don’t match up to what we dreamed of as children and even as young adults. God, and life, take very different turns. I like very much what the poster above wrote about not waiting so much as accepting – and this is often where you begin to truly “live.”

    It’s not about accepting that “x won’t ever happen,” but accepting that “x is not what God has for me right now, today.” And determining to life life to the full regardless. That’s what Jesus came to bring, isn’t it? “Life and life to the full”? And this was spoken by a single man whose own family members thought at times that He was out of his mind!

    I have some of the same feelings about waiting and being disappointed when it comes to children, since we’ve been unable to have kids even after eight years. We never dreamed this would happen to us. Nobody ever does. But God is ALWAYS SOVEREIGN. He *knows* that we are going through this – and more than that, He *granted* it for us. Why? I’ll never know. It seems so unfair when women terminate pregnancies multiple times, and we’ve waited eight years – and still nothing – not even one. But GOD KNOWS! And He’s ordained it for some purpose in our lives that we can’t see. That’s where trust and faith come in – when our human reasoning falls short, and we choose to believe anyway, smile anyway, move forward in Him anyway.

    He is the maker of the miracle and the patient heart, and He will continue to do all kinds of amazing things in you as you follow Him.

    Love you, Amber! And hey, Ethan’s a great traveler. If I had $ for a ticket, I’d go to Disney World with you RIGHT NOW!!! (One of the perks of having “only” one kiddo. 🙂 See? There’s a silver lining in everything.

    • Oh, thank you so much for this, Jenny!

      YES, it is absolutely about life, and having it to the full. And the only way to have that is through Christ. People often look at singles as though they are not yet whole — that they are just floating until they get married and then life begins — but a husband will never complete me. I like to remind myself that the grass may be greener on the other side, but it still has to be mowed — it is hard work no matter what season of life we are in. My friends who struggle in their marriages or who cannot have children or who (fill in the blank) all experience an ache that only Christ can fill, just like I do.

      And thank you also for being vulnerable and sharing your heart about your disappointment when it comes to children. I have walked that road with several friends, and I know it is a heartbreaking one. But God DOES know! He upholds you by His mighty right hand. Your attitude is precious, and your commitment to walk forward in faith and trust that God’s purpose for you is a perfect one is inspiring to me. I have to fight through my feelings when I think of terminated pregnancies or see people who just don’t care about their kids because I would care for as many children as God wanted to give me! But *this* is where He has me for now, and I trust Him.

      And that “only” one kiddo of yours? Well, he’s got to be one of the most adorable creatures that ever walked the planet. I sure hope I get to meet him and we can play with dump trucks together one day. ❤

      I love you, Jenny! I am praying for you and your sweet family.

      PS – if I were a rich woman, I would totally fly us all to Disney World right now.

  7. Awesome Article! So very true. Singleness can be considered a curse and it can also be considered a blessing. If we allow others try to make us fit into their mold of what their expectation in life is about, we can have a feeling of being smothered and consider ourselves a failure in life. But the one thing I have learned is that, one must be content in their own skin, in their own season of life. Yeah, it can be a tough pill to swallow, but one has to follow after peace and keep the important pieces of life in the proper prospective. I have seen my single friends from all ages cry that they are still single and upset at God and yearn for that Life Companion while their friends are getting or are married and with a life of their own. Then I see some of my married friends from all ages cry about the fact they may havemarried into portrait of Hell, there is no kindness, respect, trust, fun, goodness with lots of loneliness and yelling matches. At the same time the married folks are jealous of the single folks. I have learned that if its meant to be, it will come forth. But that doesn’t mean, I that I have permission to let myself go and become a hermit. Instead, I give myself permission to enjoy, embrace, cherish life! Life is a precious gift! and it should be embraced by helping others and making a positive difference wherever we go. Keep up the good work of writing!! Writing causes dialog. Dialog helps free others to open to the path of Healing by allowing others chime in and share their stories then it can be a positive reinforcement thru this journey called life. Thank you for writing this post.

  8. I am 30 and in a relationship now but I adopted internationally (a baby girl from kazakhstan) as a single at age 27. It’s been the hardest job I’ve ever loved. Don’t let your singleness hold you back from considering adoption. Lots of kids need homes — and lots of single parents do a better job at it than some of the two parent familes I know. Hang in there girl. Someday your prince will come.

    • Hey, Erin, thanks for reading and weighing in! I’ve thought many times about adopting as a single woman — every time I see the face of an orphan, every time I see someone else holding a child, every time I think about the joy I have in the Lord and how badly I want to share that with those who feel there is no hope — but the Lord hasn’t released me to do it.

      I appreciate the encouragement! I’d love to hear your adoption story if you’d like to share!

  9. Pingback: What It Means To Be (An Introverted) Single At 32 | Muddy Art

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