How to Tell Your Relatives that You’re (Still) Single: A Horror Story

Guest writer Alice Thompson shares her experience of coming home from college without a significant other. The staff here at Probably True News would like to offer our condolences to all those who have suffered the same circumstances, and our #thoughtsandprayers.


I’ll never forget it. I was standing there, in the living room, when my family asked me the question. They had all gathered around me in a half circle. At first, I thought we were going to do some sort of fun activity, like the hokey-pokey. But the thing about doing the hokey-pokey is that it happens fast, and you know for sure when it happens. So I should have known we weren’t doing the hokey-pokey, that they had all gathered around me for another, more serious reason.

When I realized with a cutting instinct what was about to happen, my heart, which had been swelling with overwhelming excitement from the prospect of doing the best, most incredible group dance in the world, became heavy like a stone and sank to my stomach. Before they asked, their eyes greedy, already knowing the answer, the question they were about to say was already ringing in my ears, eating me alive, killing me. I had half a mind to make a bolt for it when my Aunt Trisha nearly yelled the question.

“Are you seeing anyone?”

A sharp intake of breath. I looked around the room for someone to help me out.  But they were all staring at me. I know, logically, that there were only about seven or eight people in the room at the time. But when I think about it, I swear, it seemed like thousands.

Thousands of middle-aged people staring at me expectantly, me, the girl in her middle school track sweatpants, whose hands were starting to sweat. I swallowed my spit, my 27-ACT mind working hard. What should my angle be? Should I seem nonchalant, like I don’t care that I’m going to die alone, devoured by my own dog and self-loathing?

Quickly, with the instincts of a medium-sized jungle predator cat, I decided to do the funny route. I figured it was my best shot.

“Haha, nooooo, I’m probably just going to die alone,” I joked.

My family just stared at me, obviously as uncomfortable as I was. With a pang, I realized I had joked about something they genuinely feared!

I bared my teeth, hoping it would pass as a charming, beautiful smile. My family backed away several paces, almost instinctively.

I saw they were becoming terrified of me, how single I was, how repugnant my smile must have been—so I started telling them other things to try and make up for how not in a relationship I was. I began listing things in hopes of earning their approval.

“I’m a Political Science major!”

Looks of pity.

“I’m going into comedy—”

My mom sobbed into a kleenex.

When they had finally stopped crying, I asked them if they had  accepted that I will most likely be single until I’m 30. They ignored me, getting out their phones, talking amongst themselves.

“I’m sure I have someone who would date her,” said my uncle George, furiously, and with an insulting amount of concentration, scrolling through the contacts on his phone. My grandma had taken a seat by the window and was dramatically staring at the clouds in the sky, visibly pleading with God.

“Guys, I’m going to be fi—,” I tried to say but I got “shh’d” by three people.

I sat down and started reading a book. One day, my family will fully accept that I’m going to be the lady who dresses up her dogs and tells her life story to every cashier she sees because she needs the human contact. But until that day comes, I’ll do what everyone does, and wait.



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