Thanks for your kind words!
I’m sorry your family has been insensitive. And the way you feel about it makes perfect sense. But I do have a few ideas for you to consider:
There’s nothing wrong with you.
In a lot of ways, young people today have been dealt a bad hand. And it’s had an effect on our love lives:
- Many of us come from broken homes and are legitimately scared by the examples of marriage we’ve seen.
- College is more expected and more expensive than it has ever been, which makes other huge commitments—like marriage—less accessible.
- Millennials in particular are still alarmingly unemployed and underemployed, and that makes it nearly impossible to pursue any next step in life—like marriage.
On top of these social and economic factors, Christian singles have also been scared away from dating. We’ve been told that dating is emotionally dangerous, because breakups hurt. We’ve been told that dating is sexually dangerous, because temptation is real. And we’ve been told to hold out for a “the one”, because marriage is sacred. The result is that many are so scared of “doing it wrong”, they aren’t pursuing romantic relationships at all.
All this just means that your singleness probably has a lot more to do with your generational context than it does with you personally.
The good news is that marriage is still possible, and I know several couples who have married despite these obstacles. Our generation as a whole is just getting there slower than previous generations have.
Your family probably means well.
I’m sure your family doesn’t mean to panic you with their jokes.
- It may be that they aren’t fully aware of the obstacles our generation faces, so they’re baffled by our delayed marriages.
- It may be that they don’t know how to interact naturally with younger people, so they tease as an indirect way of showing affection.
- And it may be that they do know how marriage can change lives for the better, and they just want to see you happy.
Whatever’s going on, they’re probably trying to encourage you—They’re just being really clumsy about it.
You have every right to set boundaries.
The best thing for you to do is to respectfully communicate your feelings to your family.
Explain that dating is a lot more difficult now than it was when they were young, and you feel pretty insecure about it. Then tell them you would appreciate it if they stopped making jokes.
My guess is that, once they know their joking bothers you, they’ll stop. But they won’t know to stop until you talk to them. And they may even become a source of encouragement to you once they understand the situation.
But there’s also the chance they won’t stop. They may say you’re being over-sensitive and tease you even more.
If that’s the case, just get up and leave whenever they do. Eventually, they’ll have to decide whether they want to keep making jokes or actually have a relationship with you.
You can’t control other people’s behavior. But you can control whether or not you put up with it. And you’re under no obligation to protect others from the consequences of their bad behavior.
Your heart is a gift given to you by God, and protecting it is good stewardship. So if the people around you are hurting your heart, you have every right to leave.
I hope that helps.
Peace, love and Jesus,
By the way, I’d recommend you read Boundaries by by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It’s got some great things to say about protecting yourself from negative behavior.