When you're single not by choice

“How are you, being single?”

My friend was telling me about a friend who was approaching her thirties soon and struggling with singleness. We agreed that age might have played a large role in delivering a more painful punch.

Neither of us was on the brink of turning thirty, and my friend was already happily engaged. But that’s when the conversation turned to me.

“You’re asking how am I doing as a single?”

I was slightly surprised by the question, because no one ever asked me that. People usually ask me “why are you single?” or “are you looking for someone?” or “do you need help getting un-single?”.

I wouldn’t say that I’m dying to be un-single. Yes, admittedly there are times when I look at others who are in a relationship and I wonder if I would ever be in one. A relationship sounds great, and I recognise the good things that come with it.

A life of singleness has its fair share of goodness as well. We all know the freedom that comes with it. But as I let my friend’s question sink in, I realised my internal struggle has never really been about the absence of a life partner. It was something else.

It was being single … But not by choice.

This would be ideal: Being able to confidently say that my singleness is a choice. That – power to me! – I want to be single. But I can’t. To put it bluntly, I have to admit that I remain single because no one has stepped forward. I don’t exactly have any other choice. I’m pretty much single by circumstance.

Undeniably, there is a special and unique kind of being wanted, loved and cared for in the context of a covenantal relationship or marriage. The Bible tells us so (Ephesians 5:28-29).

Where then, does this leave the singles?

In the words of Marshall Segal, singleness became an unwanted and unneeded judge and roommate in my life.

My problem didn’t lie with my singleness. It was with what my singleness implied.

Am I single because I am not wanted?

Am I single because I am not cherishable?

Am I single because I am not loveable?

I know that these questions are far from the truth, but my fear is that these questions have already silently taken up residence in the deepest recesses of my heart, and in many others’ too.

I am also learning that not being wanted as a spouse is not the same as being unwanted.

But I am also learning that not being wanted as a spouse is not the same as being unwanted. Just like how you can be qualified and competent, but not employed. Or how you can be musically gifted, but not be a successful musician. Poor, but not given extra cash. Hungry, but not fed.  The list goes on.

Basically, while there are definitely highly attractive traits about you, as there are in everyone, it doesn’t mean that someone will necessarily respond to those traits. And there’s nothing much you can do to change the situation. It’s not exactly your fault.

Isn’t it unfair, then?


While God remains silent on some of these questions, I find great comfort in the life of Paul the Apostle. Paul remained unmarried while doing God’s work across the nations. His life was also far from being smooth and comfortable.

But yet as he lived without the unique love, care and cherishing that a relationship with the opposite gender gives, Paul speaks confidently of the surpassing preciousness of knowing Christ over all these things.

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Philippians 3:8)

There is a unique kind of loving and cherishing from God for every unique individual. It is so unique that is truly between God and myself, that no one else can ever know or experience on my behalf.

The prize isn’t human companionship, a diamond ring, or a BTO flat – the prize is Jesus and His promised fullness of life.

This special kind of intimacy is only experienced when we allow ourselves to draw closer to Him – that might also mean taking our eyes and minds off our family circumstance, our relationship status, our financial situation and everything else, and keeping our eyes on the prize (Philippians 3:14).

And no, the prize isn’t human companionship, a diamond ring, or a BTO flat. These things are good, but life has got to be way more than that. The prize is Jesus and His promised fullness of life.

So back to the burning questions.

Am I single because I am not wanted?

Am I single because I am not cherishable?

Am I single because I am not loveable?

No.

I have always loved you

Even if you feel that you are not wanted, God says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

If you feel that you are not cherished, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:25)

And if you feel that you are not loved, “I have always loved you,” says the Lord (Malachi 1:2).


Singles! Send us your thoughts and stories on your journeys with God through this season. Drop us an email here.

About the author

Christina Wong

Christina is a designer who memorises Pantone swatches. Her standard bubble tea order – peach oolong milk tea with 25% sugar, less bubbles and no ice. She also dreams of raising her own pet penguin one day.