Do Single People Hate Hanging out with Married People?

by Kathleen Quiring on May 3, 2011

(This is part 3 of my exploration of the marrieds-singles divide)

I’ve been told on more than one occasion that it’s pointless and a waste of time to try to get singles and marrieds together because single people hate hanging out with married people anyway. We’re so boring. All we want to talk about are mortgages and kids.

First off, I find this suggestion just a teeny bit disheartening. . . I would like to think I’m multi-faceted enough to manage a wider range of topics than that.

But maybe it’s actually true. Maybe we are that boring.

Shortly after Ben and I got married, our church started up a monthly Sunday afternoon potluck for young married couples without kids. They were some of the most agonizingly boring social gatherings I have ever attended. All we did talk about were finances and casseroles. I still felt more or less like an unmarried person: I’d just gone through a wedding ceremony months before, and I still had absolutely no interest in married-people stuff. I still had all the same interests I’d had three months ago. I wanted to talk about theology and literature. Going through the motions of being a bride and starting to sleep with my husband hadn’t diminished my interest in those things, and didn’t immediately increase my interest in children or cookery.

I bagan to believe that married people were just inherently boring.

I no longer think that’s the case. At least, I don’t think so. Part of the problem with those gatherings — the reason why we couldn’t talk about anything beyond these topics — stemmed, I think, from the fact that we weren’t there based on any commonality besides marital status. We hadn’t gathered because we shared similar interests or a common goal. We had gathered because we all happened to have spouses — a pretty shaky basis for a social gathering, in my opinion.

I’ll admit, though, that since those days I have slowly become interested in kids and casseroles. They make reasonably interesting conversation topics. I still can’t abide conversations about mortgages, but overall, I can hold my own in any “married-people” conversation and even enjoy a lot of it.

In fact, I talk about married-people stuff a lot these days. I love swapping recipes and going over kitchen successes and failures. I’m interested in other women’s birth experiences and theories of parenting and the like. I’m all wrapped up in the world of marriage most of the time. And I worry sometimes that as a result, most single people probably wouldn’t be able to stand being around me much of the time.

I’d like to think, though, that getting married has simply increased the number of things I can talk about. Now that I’ve had a wider range of experiences, I can cover school, books and adolescent angst as well as babies, budgets and birth control. And I’ll still go for theology and literature before anything else.

Perhaps I’ve gotten into a habit of reverting too often to married-people talk, though. It’s quite probable that younger folks find me just as tedious as I found those early married-people gatherings. But maybe that’s a consequence of spending too much time just with fellow marrieds and not enough time with anyone else. Maybe I would do better if I hung out with a more diverse range of people.

And that’s what brings me back to the belief that it’s worthwhile to encourage single and married people to spend time together and learn from one another. The more time I spend in my married-only universe, the more easily I forget to value of non-married conversations. I just forget about the world outside of married-land. I think it would be valuable to hang out more often with people who are at different stages in life, and learn to converse on a wide range of topics so that I don’t have to bore or alienate any particular group of people.

What do you think? Is it possible or even desirable to try to get married people and single people to hang out? Are we married people hopelessly dull no matter what? What can we do to change that? Are there more complex reasons why single people don’t want to hang out with us? Or do they really hate it as much as I’m told?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Laura May 3, 2011 at 8:25 am

It’s absolutely necessary for single and married people of all ages and genders to interact, especially in the church. I feel really lucky to have joined my husband’s church when we became engaged and quickly became a part of a small group that included singles, marrieds, mostly in our age category but not all. We learn a lot from each other and talk about a huge range of things- really a unique situation, I guess.

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2 hallie l. May 3, 2011 at 11:11 am

I don’t think it’s fair to say marrieds are boring, but our worlds are wrapped up in different things. My best girl friend is single, and it’s hard sometimes. She’s still living like a college student, with the exception of the college part. Meanwhile, my world is wrapped up in whether or not my husband hates his job, in trying and failing to get pregnant, in what on earth to make for dinner so we don’t wind up going to Subway *again*.

So much of the early-married life is coming to terms that it’s not just about you anymore, but most singles (through no fault of their own…well, usually…) don’t fully get that.

My best friend is a wonderful person; we’ve been friends for years, and we’ll continue to be friends for years to come. But a part of me can’t wait for her to meet a nice boy so we can relate just a little better.

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3 jayme - No Regrets Singles May 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Sometimes, singles are bored with marrieds.
Sometimes, marrieds are bored with singles.

When I was single, it seems that about ALL i wanted to talk about was relationships. How do I get into one? What should I look for? A guy did this, what could that mean? Then I got into one…what do I do now? What boundaries should I set? How can I tell if he’s “the one”? Then you get engaged and the marriage/wedding questions abound.

After a certain point in a marriage, the married doesn’t really want to talk relationships (I’ve found). They humor you for a while, but eventually it’s just so common sense that they don’t “get” why you’re worried about it. “Seriously…why don’t you just ask him what he meant by that?!” They’re off worried about other things.

It’s a natural progression. That said, marrieds and singles can easily have other hobbies in common that they can discuss. You just have to find the common ground and humor each other. When the married wants to talk about babies, humor her. When the single wants to talk about relationships, humor her.

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4 Justin Mulwee May 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I wanted to immediately reassure you and say there’s nothing boring about married people. And then, I had to admit what you pointed out: married people do spend a lot of time talking about mortgages, dentists, insurance, and a lot of really boring things that single people never talk about.

And then I realized that this only happens when married people are in groups of married people. A group of people will inevitably talk about what they have in common. Christians in church who have very little in common will talk about God, because our need for him and desire to learn about him and be rid of sin and help our community — that’s what we have in common with one another. That’s why talking about the weather in the classic pointless smalltalk; it’s the one thing you can be sure everybody in the same location has in common. It doesn’t matter if talking about the weather is boring (and it is); it’s what you have in common at the moment.

And as you pointed out, a group of people who have nothing obviously in common besides being married and having a mortgage, they tend to talk about such things. Put them in a group that actually has a designated subject, (like theology or literature) and they will start talking about those things, whether they’re married or not.

Part of all this is it’s simply boring whenever two or more people are talking about something you don’t share with them. Earlier this year I had three roommates who all go to the same college and have the same major. I’m not in college. I’d honestly rather hang out with any of them separately than all of them at once, because when they’re together they’ll start talking about school and the one discipline that interests them all–and that’s boring just because their concerns are nothing like mine.

I’d advise married people not to start hanging out with single people just because they’re single (that’s silly), but to be a part of some kind of group which actually revolves around something that’s not marital status.

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5 Lena May 6, 2011 at 8:57 am

When I started working part time, I started hanging out with a few single people. Not just at work, but outside of work too. They are all younger than me, one girl has a boyfriend, 2 girls are single, and the male is gay. So… a pretty diverse group I think. The girl with the boyfriend, never brings the boyfriend out. I invited my husband to hang out with us a few times, but he didn’t want to. We all asked the one with the boyfriend to bring her bf out, but he never came. They asked a few times why I didn’t want to bring Jason out, because they “wanted to meet him” but I knew it would be super weird. An old married couple, hanging out with 18-21 year old single people. When I hang out with them, I feel like they don’t want me to have husband; always telling me I shouldn’t go home early because of him, or that I shouldn’t have a baby because then I can’t hang out with them. I don’t know… it’s just weird. I like hanging out with them, and we have fun, but it’s not the same as when I’m with my married friends. Then I can at least be with my husband, and not have to feel dumb about bringing anything about marriage up. They are all still young so I understand how it would be weird to hang out with a married couple, so I feel like I shouldn’t be married to hang out with them.

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6 Rachel Starr Thomson May 8, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I think Justin’s suggestion is right on: we need to gather in groups that are not ABOUT marital status. Actually, I would expand that: we need to become people (especially as Christian people) who are not primarily about marital status.

At the same time, we all need to learn to love each other, which means that we take an active interest in “the things of others” and not just in the things of ourselves. I am 28 and still single, and I have many married friends. I work to cultivate an interest in the things that concern them: in the health of their marriage relationships, in child-rearing, yes, even in mortgages. I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve actively participated in that centered around childbirth, breastfeeding, and homeschooling. And I should care about these things, because I love my friends.

What I find (from personal experience and observation) to be commonly lacking is reciprocal interest from married folks (especially from those are still newly married or just now embarking on parenthood). In a mixed group of marrieds and singles, the marrieds will tend to hold forth on many subjects of marital interest. And when/if they do finally turn to the single, it’s rarely to ask after our friendships, our relationship with God, our theology, what we’ve been reading lately, etc–it’s usually to ask, “So, have you met ‘someone special’ yet?”

I don’t read anything particularly sinister into that. It’s common human selfishness and limited perspective. (And lest I give a wrong impression, there have been MANY times when I have failed to be properly interested in their lives too, and many times when I’ve resented them for failing to be interested in mine.) I think we all–as singles and marrieds and above all human beings who are one in Christ–need to learn to love one another more truly.

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7 Maria May 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I absolutely agree that single and married people need to mingle together. I have experienced attending a church where I couldn’t even tell who was married and who wasn’t (that is besides the older married people). The young adults all sat together with their friends, couples didn’t worry about sitting beside his/her spouse. It was beautiful. And my sister-in-law (to whom this church is her home church) commented on how strange it seemed to her that we (in my own church) are so obsessive about sitting together as couples. Perhaps that is one thing us married people could change to blur those lines a bit more.

I also agree with Justin’s suggestion: to base our commonality not on marital status. That being said, the young married group that was started at your church Kathleen, shouldn’t it have also been based on your commonality in Christ? And on that note, it saddens me that we, and I would put most of us Christians in this category, too often get to know each other based not on our common faith, and tackle issues like theology and God’s movement in our lives, but rather on more surface level things like marital status.

It takes hard work to get to know people outside of our stage of life, but in order to enrich our own lives and hopefully as “married folk” to enrich theirs as well, we can be friends. And hopefully we can look past the boring things each stage of life might stereotypically talk about, and see each other for who we really are.

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8 MC June 20, 2011 at 10:06 pm

I am single and have some married friends, and in fact they are the ones who still keep in contact. Part of the reason, I shy away, is because I feel as if they will blame me for still being single. I had one married friend insist I put up a profile online and be more serious about finding someone. The few times I enjoyed hanging out with married people is when the tables are turn, and they are honest about marriage, and I can learn from them (e.g., one friend did talk about her experiences with sex after marriage, another about how she and her husband compromise). I came to your site to get a real perspective on marriage not something that I feel I have not yet accomplished.

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9 Kaye October 20, 2011 at 12:18 am

I’m separated, and have many couple friends. There are two game changers, I notice. Many closer friends already have kids in college, so they are in new phase of life, very open to the “theology and literature” discussions, as you call it. They’re also in later phase of marriage, and want to keep good friends. But I also have friends who are newly married and talk about their spouse constantly, OR, they want to be with other people who will swap stories about kids, arrange play dates with their own children, etc. I feel it from the reverse side…they are in a phase where they are so focused on young children, they just don’t want to be around singles or divorced, who are not focused on spouse or kids. Frankly, I do sometimes find my head spinning, after looking at baby pic # 10,000 :) having to say, how cute! Social networks now give us a daily look at baby, which single friends may not want to see every day, longing to return to prior depth of the old friendship. I don’t think it is possible, unless you can keep the friendship on auto-pilot, til baby goes to college.

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10 Kenny August 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm

It’s not that we single people find married people boring, it is that married people (especially if they have children) look down on their single friends… they look at us as if you we just haven’t “grown up” yet… Read through the comments on here and you will see what I mean. All of them imply that their single friends are “still living like a college student” or “just haven’t had a full range of experience” yet… BULL SH!T… Reading these comments, I now realize why I HATE young married people… All they do is look at us as if we have some disease.

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11 james October 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Married people are extremely boring. I used to enjoy socialising with my friends. Now ever since they got married, every time they speak, my eyes get really heavy and I feel the need to sleep.

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12 John T November 14, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I was surfing the net on this topic. Single people are far more interesting for the most part, more free, more adventurous, more spontaneous, less mundane. Married people seem de-sexualized. It’s sad, I’ve seen it happen to family and friends and they often ask me about my exploits, which shiws they may be lacking in the sex department. No talk about travel, art, expression. Just about mortgages, 59 types of insurance, taxes, their boring jobs, their pain in the arse in laws. No thanks.

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