The Second Most Backhanded Compliment Of All Time

Many moons ago I wrote a post entitled, “The Most Backhanded Compliment of All Time”. The premise? There were so many single women out there because most women made for a good option, therefore, men had a hard time discerning which women to choose from since, well, the status quo was “good women”. Being a good woman didn’t make you special because well, the default for most women was “good woman”. Yeah I caught some flack for that, but I still think its true.

You gets no cookie for knowing how to bake cookies.

I had a girlfriend once tell me that part of the value she brought to my life was that she cooked for me. I looked at her like she had three boobs (she didn’t) and said, “you think THAT makes you special? I haven’t had a single girlfriend who DIDN’T cook for me? The non-cooking woman is a myth in my life. Every woman I know and have dated has cooked and cooked well.”

And it’s true. Moving on, there is another backhanded compliment that I’m sure gets uttered on a near daily basis in clubs, libraries, speakeasies, dressing rooms, and Delta 100-year parties happening in DC this weekend:

“Why are you single?”

On it’s face, it shouldn’t be a problem, but it is. Which leads to the question, is it inappropriate to ask anybody why their single?

Pretty much…yes.

This is (usually) one of those backhanded compliments intended to flatter but reminds the person that they are indeed single and implies that it is somehow their fault (it likely is at least partially their fault, but we’ll get to that later) or their choice. So while it’s not exactly inappropriate because of its intent, the execution of said question will always skew negatively and thus, it is probably inappropriate because it never has a positive outcome.

Let’s start with “implies that their singledom is their own fault.” Now, most people would argue that they are single for various reasons that aren’t of their own doing i.e. can’t find a (wo)man they get along with, opposite sex plays too many games, etc. Basically, their options have been more frog, less prince. And it’s not your fault if he or she who thee have come into contact with have been low on the quality totem pole. You can’t control who you meet, only where you meet them and there’s no guarantee that you’ll meet quality where you assume quality resides. You can mostly only up your chances. And that’s not their fault. You meet who you meet and how those persons handle that responsibility is not your fault.


It also implies that its their choice to be single – where the offense usually comes in – when in reality, most women you ask this are as surprised as you are that they are single since they want to be in a relationship and see exactly whatever it is that you saw that made you ask such an inappropriate question! While I’ve met a few women who have told me straight up that they want to be single, the vast majority would rather be coupled up. As far as men go? Well, many men wish death upon me are okay with being single until meet a woman who its worth typing a text to this girl they used to see, telling her that he chose a cutie pie with whom he wants to be. You know, because while he’d hate to see her frown, he’d rather see his new girl smile. Point is, asking why somebody is single implies choice, and a choice most of us likely wouldn’t make. Which, again, leads back to them being as surprised as you are that they are single.

Basically, they realize they are the cats meow because you realize they are the cats meow. However, that has nothing to do with how they ended up single. Those types of questions usually arise after some sort of interesting conversation or discovery that this person is super cool because of xyz. Chances are, if we were to dig into the relationship pasts of most folks, we’d be able to surmise and determine various reasons why said person who covets a relationship is single. Some of their own doing, some the doing of their lovers past.

There’s another factor here that often comes into play: I’d wager that about 9 times out of 10, a man is asking this of a woman, which has to be completely frustrating for the woman. Standing in front of you is a man who has not only determined that you are a catch, enough to not only wonder why you are single, but enough to voice this confusion to you out loud…

…and then likely move on to the life he was leading before you two met. I don’t know that I’ve ever met a woman who told me she met her boyfriend after a conversation where the dude she was talking to inquired as to why she was single. Not saying it can’t or doesn’t happen, I’m just saying I’ve never heard that story before.

Which leads to this other point – men ain’t stupid. See, if we get to the point where we vocalize – externally – to you that we’re surprised that you’re single, to which you’ll likely shrug after the pseudo annoyed look on your face dissipates, we are going to ask ourselves this same question (internally), except putting the emphasis on the “why” and not the “you”, thus making us think if you were such a catch, you’d be caught since there’s a really good chance that you’re looking to be fried and fricasseed.

It’s the same principle that I’ve heard many women express upon meeting a man who is over 35 and either hasn’t been married before or has no children. Something has to be wrong with him. Either he has commitment issues or is gay. Or doesn’t know what he wants out of live, etc. None of which has to be true, but some of which could be true. Who knows? The guy could be perfect on paper but once you go digging, you may find out exactly what “looks good on paper” and Notre Dame have in common.

Anyway, is it appropriate to ask somebody why they’re single? Why or why not? Of is it really just a backhanded compliment that should be kept to oneself?

Inquiring minds would like to know.