DOs and DON'Ts for Loving Singles Overseas
“Singles are not less than. They are a whole person. They have valuable ideas, talents, and experiences to contribute.”
Singles living overseas are in a unique position. They have left everyone they know to move to a new place and take on a new role. I believe good, solid friendships are vital to anyone thriving overseas (or in their passport country for that matter), but especially for singles. They are not around their family and they don’t have the consistency of a spouse in the midst of an unpredictable stressful lifestyle.
I spent six years living in Southeast Asia single. I left to get married at age 29. I loved my single life abroad and I built strong relationships. Though I was loved well by married couples and families, sometimes I was hurt or felt taken advantage of because of something a married couple said or did. I’m sure the mistake was made unintentionally and that’s why I’m offering a few “dos and don’ts for loving singles overseas.”
Don’t treat their home like a hotel.
Do respect their time and their space.
If you know a single who has a spare bedroom in their house and your cousin/niece/husband’s aunt is coming to visit, don’t assume that they can live with your friend, even if it’s for a short time. A person’s home is a special place and should be respected as such. If you need a place for a visitor to stay, ask your friend without expectation. Be honest and up front about the visitor. I agreed to let a friend’s intern live with me for a few months without knowing all the details and it turned out to be one of the most challenging housemate seasons. Singles may not have kids to look after but they have other responsibilities: housework, cooking, finances, shopping, and communication with leadership and supporters all on their own, in addition to their job and language study.
Singles are busy. Be aware that they might have their own things going on before you ask them for a time-consuming favor of hosting your guest.
Don’t see them only as babysitters.
Do invite them into your family.
All of the singles I know love being invited to participate in a family’s life in some capacity. This may mean inviting them over for a meal, a game night, or even to spend a holiday with you. As a single who wanted to be married and have a family, I loved spending time in families’ homes watching how they interacted and did life together. I learned so much about marriage and parenting from my friends who were willing to have me in their home and treat me like family.
Holidays are often hard for singles. They’re away from family and traditions and may feel extra lonely or sad, especially if they see family photos from back home posted on social media. Ask them how they celebrate with their family or invite them to make a special dish from home to share. If you only call on them when you need a babysitter, that’s not a friendship.
Don’t exclude them.
Do treat them as a peer and friend.
Singles are not less than. They are a whole person. They have valuable ideas, talents, and experiences to contribute. If they’re part of your team, ask for their input before making a decision that will affect them. Don’t exclude them from participating in something based solely on their relationship status. As someone who wanted to be married, this reasoning really stung. Ask them what they think before you assume and make decisions for them.
Don’t play matchmaker all the time.
Do show interest in their lives beyond their relationship status.
There is so much more to a person than their relationship status. That is not what defines someone. Get to know the uniqueness of your single friends. What is their family like back home? How do they spend their spare time? These things are important to know about friends in general, but also important to know if you do play matchmaker. Just because a guy and a girl are single does not mean they’ll make a good couple.
Don’t assume that everyone who is single is desperate to be married. Every person is different. Know where they stand and ask their permission before you start arranging blind dates.
Before we met, since he first moved overseas, my husband received numerous “She’s single, you should meet her” comments from well-meaning friends or acquaintances. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One of those friends was also my friend, but she knew both of us well enough to know an introduction might lead to something.
These are just some thoughts based on my experience. But like I said, everyone is different. Let this be a conversation starter between you and your single friends and teammates. The best way to love them is to see them as whole person and to act accordingly.
What would you add to the list? If you’ve been overseas as a single, how have married friends or your teammates loved you well?