Just recently my beloved sent an email that asked, “Do you have anyone that you’re hesitant to tell about us?”
I certainly hadn’t refrained from telling any of my friends, but there were definitely a few that I wanted to speak to more tactfully. They were, of course, single friends who, as happy as they might be for me, were unhappily single. I wouldn’t want to make them feel worse.
Then there were family members who, given their lack of relationship experience, made breaking the news awkward. It pained me to even think about what to say or how to say it.
I liken it to the insensitive thin girl who always complains about needing to lose 5 lbs. – to her overweight friend. At best, it’s thoughtless and uncharitable. At worst, it’s the type of thinly-veiled gloating that reveals a cruel streak – one I don’t want to have. I would rather save the raucous, gleeful, ecstatic announcement-making for the friends who are in relationships and opt for a quieter, more level-headed delivery for the single ones.
Certainly, my single friends who know my dating history would be happy that I finally found happiness. They, of course, know all about the periods of intense loneliness, the long bouts of soul-searching, the self-dating project; they knew I’d put myself through the wringer.
For the most part, too, this is exactly what my friends were telling me. One friend, for instance, who’d been single for a long time, told me years ago not to tell her if I was seeing anyone. She couldn’t handle it.
Fair enough, I’d thought. I’d certainly been there.
But I couldn’t avoid telling her for too long; her sister saw me with my beloved at the pool near my home. I quickly texted my friend an apologetic message. Her response: “No worries. You deserve all this happiness. I am there for you.”
This type of response seemed to confirm that was I not wrong in this approach. The email from my beau, though, prompted me to really think about what I was doing. What was I hoping to achieve by doling out separate statements? Was I reinforcing the divide between singles and couples by monitoring my delivery? In trying to appear charitable to some, was I showing pity?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t as I originally thought. I’d hoped that in having a variable method of breaking the news, I’d somehow bridge the gap between singletons and the paired-up world. But that was naive of me.
I could no more bridge that gap than I could mend relations between opposing political parties. I realized that this way of thinking only reinforces the “Us vs. Them” mentality that annexes singletons into a pitiable minority group.
Then something happened that reinforced to me how wrong I’d been, for a completely different reason. After I told one of my friends – in my calm, level-headed delivery – her twin left me a message: “So, I heard the news, but you sounded less than happy about it. What’s that about?”
Well, that certainly gave me pause. How could I explain what I’d been thinking? Suddenly it all seemed so absurd. Which was more important: sparing the feelings of others or hiding my own? Was it really so difficult to want others to be happy for me?
I decided in the end that staying true to myself was the best show of friendship that I could offer to others. In sharing the good news, with all the reckless abandon I could muster, I was allowing others to be joyful for me too. And that reminded me that, more often than not, feelings of cheer and goodwill are highly contagious and worth spreading around!