Why am I still single?

We have the world outside mocking us for our virginity (note top right corner of this movie poster): "You've never had sex?! And you're how old?" (and thus alleged loser status or "backward, holier-than-thou" snobishness), fellow believers handing out personal opinions and platitudes "You're not married? ... Sounds like God is preparing you to be His stunning, resplendent Bride!", and our own internal voice haunting us with the message that we're rejects because we're still single.

In the midst of this rhetorical question, numerous others spawn: What is it about me that people dislike? Will I ever be found attractive or desirable by someone? How do I deal with doubts about my attractiveness? Is God punishing me or perhaps protecting me from my own future failure(s)? Is it wrong to deeply desire companionship and intimacy and ask God for a spouse? Do I even deserve a spouse? Is there a right motive for wanting to be married? If so, what is it? How do I know I'm not asking with selfish motives (James 4:3), especially when so many people are going through things far worse than I am? Am I just unfortunate? Am I too selective and missed my opportunity for marriage? Am I not trying hard enough to find one? How much difference in age in marriage is really acceptable? Will I ever find someone who genuinely wants to spend their life with me? How and where would I ever find them?

As a lady shared:

"I just don't know what to believe anymore. As I get older, the thought of not being married is beginning to bother me, much more than it did before. I am optimistic and trying to keep the faith. But in the back of my mind I wonder, "What if it never happens?". I have to move on—how do I stop the pangs in my stomach when I see couples together, or how do I not resent people who have good spouses and don't appreciate them, or the ones who change spouses more often than the wind direction?

Whatever the outcome, I don't want to live in self pity, resentment, or spend my life obssessing about it. I just want to learn to be content whatever state I'm in; change what I can, and accept what I can't.

All of this growing I know will not happen overnight. God has given me grace to handle everything else, so I'm trusting He'll continue to do so."

Part of our fear can be that we feel we will never be able to live up to the expectations of parents and family—even the kind of person themselves that we long to marry.

Jessica Harris notes in her post When Your Wedding Date Passes Again:

"Everyone has an opinion. Every married woman has a love story and will be quick to share it with you and, in most cases, tell you how to start writing yours. How many times have we heard, "Once I gave it to God, the next day He brought my husband" or "Once I surrendered to missions, He brought my husband.""

I've had people give all sorts of advice. Some tell me I need to pray harder. Others tell me I need to pray more specifically and give God a time line. One person tells me to forget it altogether, and the next person tells me to pursue it like a college degree. One warns against the "UPS Cupid" mentality, while another warns against not being content in Christ. One woman of God tells you to go where the fishing is good, another advises to not be too quick to 'catch.'"

In a later post, When "EveryBody Else" Is Getting Married, she adds:

"It can be hard to wait. Hard to hope. You find yourself asking, "What's the point?"

We grasp at these concepts of hope and contentment all while struggling with very real desires—emotionally, physically, and mentally. There is a sense of longing and then guilt for the longing because we’re taught to be content. So, then there is this attempted murder of the longing which just serves to frustrate us even more.

It's a dizzying cycle."

A single lady (who didn't meet her spouse until she was 43) also shares about this:

"I heard so many well-intended, but horrible, platitudes from people during my extended single years that I refuse to sit on my high horse and give an explanation as to why God gave me a husband after all those years...to so do would make me into Job's oh-so-unhelpful-friends (and look what happened to them) trying to explain what God was doing to Job, when they didn't have a clue! All I know is that God was good in my extended singleness, and God is good in my marriage."

As yet another woman (who asked to remain anonymous) notes:

"...This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I didn't become a Christian until I was 24. Before that time, I had sexual relationships, but once I became a Christian, I tried hard to put that away. It was tough. There was a lot of mess for the Lord to clean up in my heart and mind from the way I had been living.

I think that I just figured, once I knew the Lord, He would set things up with my future husband (voila!), but years went by, almost 10 years of singleness and celibacy. It was hard to leave physical intimacy behind, and I made mistakes along the way, and, at times, I risked developing a hard heart towards the Lord because of my anger about being alone. But the Lord is gracious and compassionate, and He always brought me back.

During all this time, I had a lot to learn and a new way of thinking to adapt—I just didn't realize it at the time. I was growing in my relationship with the Lord, and I was beginning to trust Him with my life. I was coming to the end of myself. I came to a place of being able to lay down my claim to ever be married. I had to acknowledge the possibility that perhaps the Lord had other plans for me, and I wanted His plans, not my own.

Finally, in a sudden turn of events, at the age of 33, I met and married (within just five months of our first date) my husband—who happened to be a 35-year-old virgin and a Christian since the age of 16 (and a prize catch, I might add!). That was 12 years and two children ago. The best 12 years of my life!

As much as I pitied my situation at the time, I can see how much I grew in it. Single folks might try thinking of their singleness and enforced celibacy as just another trial in life. We all have them. Singles don't have the corner on the market. And, although there is no guarantee of marriage, well, there's no guarantee of another day either.

My point is that, I think we (my husband and I) both understand the struggle of waiting, and, frankly, I don't believe that the Bible's instruction is inadequate, or that other Christians don't care or try to understand your situation, though they might be preoccupied with their own trials.

I believe the bigger problem is that the world has changed so drastically. "Free" sex is everywhere and no one seems interested in marrying. It's not a priority anymore—even for Christians. Everyone wants to keep their options open because the world is so available to them now. Who knows what else there might be out there to go and conquer?! I suppose I was no different, so I'm not being critical.

I used to think that if the Lord would have just told me I was going to have to wait 10 years (and no more) I could have enjoyed those 10 years more than I did. I think He wonders why I didn't enjoy them to the fullest regardless.

I don't think there's one strategy or one remedy for this issue. I believe the Lord knows each of us as individuals intimately and wants to relate to us as such. Don't look for the solution in the church. Keep seeking Him..."

Another lady writes in response to a comment:

"You write, "God promises to give us the desires of our hearts. This doesn't translate into 'right now', but He’ll either give you a husband or change your desire."

Really? I disagree with you wholeheartedly. That line of thinking is naive and overly simplistic.

I am single and in my early 40s, yet I have five or six good friends who are in their late 70s and even 80s. None of these women has ever married either, though each has longed to. They are strong Christians, hard workers and faithful servants in their churches. Yet God has not given them husbands.

They are socially appropriate, intelligent and attractive, and they have not been overly selective in dating. There is no earthly reason they should be single in our culture.

And here's why I disagree with your Psalm 37:4 reasoning: They tell me that the desire to marry never goes away. The passions get easier to deal with, but the sadness that one has not been chosen to be loved is lingering. In fact, one 80-year-old friend confessed this to me, with teary eyes.

The discrepancy between God giving us the desires of our hearts and our unfulfilled desires (to marry, to have children, to whatever) is not a contradiction, however. It is an antinomy, or paradox. We cannot understand it this side of heaven. But one thing we can understand is that Psalm 37:4 isn't referring to what you mention."

(Segment from 10m to 12m 4s)
On You Bet Your Life, Groucho
(though hardly a moral role model)
admires a contestant's discernment
in who she marries.
Ep. 54-08, 11.4.1954, Secret word: "Chair"

...even the lighter side, as Groucho points out on You Bet Your Life (interviewing a 26-year-old public relations consultant from Glencoe, Illinois, by the name of Miss Joan Rosenthal):

Groucho: "Joan, where are you from?"

Joan: "Well, I live in a suburb of Chicago called Glencoe, Illinois."

Groucho: "Glencoe. How old are you, Joan?"

Joan: "26."

Groucho: You're young looking...that's a lovely age. Especially if you happen to be 38."

Groucho: "Is it 'Miss' or 'Mrs', uh...?"

Joan: "Well, I'm afraid it's 'Miss'."

Groucho: "Well, if you're afraid, I'm not surprised it's 'Miss', huh? ...You're very attractive—now what is the reason you're single, Joan? Nice looking girl—young girl—pretty hair, teeth, slim..."

Joan: "I don't really know—I keep asking myself: Why am I still single?"

Groucho: "Well, stop asking yourself, and ask somebody else! You'll get better results that way! Would you...like to get married?"

Joan: "Yes, I'd like to!"

Groucho: "Mmm hmm... Why? Any particular reason?"

Joan: "Well, I'd like to have a family..."

Groucho: "Have you looked for a husband?"

Joan: "Yes, I've been looking..."

Groucho: "Well, you're honest about it...most girls when they're not married, even if they're attractive, they say "No, I don't want to get married." ...Where have you looked specifically for a husband?"

Joan: "Well, uh, I've looked in Chicago, and New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Kansas City, St. Louis, San Francis..."

Groucho: "You've got a bigger dragnet out than Jack Webb! I bet you've had a lot of proposals, Joan..."

Joan: "Well, yeah..."

Groucho: "You've had a number of them haven't you? ...You just haven't found anybody that you like yet—and I admire you for that—because most girls at 26 are so panicky; they're afraid they're not gonna get a fellow that they grab the first yokel that comes along. I admire you for having high standards." [And this, coming from a man (who on at least one occasion) alluded to not waiting for marriage.]

Joan: "Well, thank you."

Groucho: "And I bet you'll wind up with just the boy you want."

Joan: "Well, thank you very much."