No matter the season—Christmas, Valentine’s Day, the month of June with all its weddings and graduations—singles have ample opportunity to feel left behind and left out. This leaves many single men and women searching for a relationship to “solve” those feelings. If I only had a boyfriend, this season would be so much more bearable. How many of us have had that thought?
But a relationship is not the ultimate cure for loneliness (not even marriage cures a lonely heart!). Rather, having multiple relationships—a web of community made up of friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances—is the best way to spend your singleness fulfilled.
This doesn’t mean your desire for a godly relationship will go away; there’s no reason it should. But it demands an understanding of our deepest human need: relationship on all levels, with all kinds of people, of all walks of life. One person cannot fill every role you need in your life, and you shouldn’t expect them to.
We Are a Relational People
God created us to crave relationship. He said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” not simply as a statement about marriage, but as a statement about humanity as a whole. It is never good for man to be isolated, separated from the community of fellow image-bearers. We are a relational people, and we need interaction with more than one person.
Singles need community now more than ever. In our society, dating relationships are put on a pedestal, whereas relationships with our elders, with children, with married friends and with people outside our season are considered unnecessary or second-class. But we cannot have positive romantic relationships without this community of love and accountability. And we cannot live an effective single season without them, either.
Technology Isolates Us
Today’s technology makes it easy to connect with others in short bursts of attention. We send messages, emails, texts and memes, but how often do we initiate deeper conversation? No one wants to be the person to take the topical conversation deeper, but that’s exactly what we need. We’ve allowed technology to make us islands unto ourselves, and by so doing, we exacerbate our desire for a romantic relationship. Waiting is harder than it needs to be because we lack the community God designed us to crave.
We have to say more “no” to technological connection and more “yes” to real-life community—going out to coffee, asking hard questions and being vulnerable with people face-to-face.
Community Defeats Loneliness
Many singles believe a dating relationship, or marriage, will cure their loneliness. While this is partially true, it’s not a whole truth. No one person can completely satisfy or understand us, particularly for the long term. Loneliness in marriage is a very real thing. When we get to that point, the question remains: Did I cultivate a community while single that could sustain me in the hard times of marriage? Who can I turn to for wisdom, advice and support? Did I alienate the very people I needed for times like this? Too many singles do.
Singles need community, both now and later. You need the older couples in your church, the babies in the nursery, the middle-aged mom and the siblings you prefer to ignore. We need them, and God has provided what we need. So let’s embrace a world bigger than romantic relationships, and allow singleness to be a time of fruitful growth.