The Plight of the Smug Married

Stop preaching to and patronising your single friends

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I would like to discuss the plight of the ‘Smug Married’ – a moniker made popular by Bridget Jones in the mid nineties, there are no people less cool, less popular, or more annoying, than your Smug Married friends.

Smug Marrieds can suck the joy out of almost anything, it seems. You don’t want to get stuck talking to a smug-married person at a party. How dull.

Smug Marrieds are often the villains. We wear matching polo necks, make stews, and say things like ‘we live vicariously through you, darling’.

I know, we suck. But it’s hard.

We know you hate being invited to dinner parties where you are the only single person. So we invite Graham. But now it looks like a set-up. So how about you sit next to Mark and Louise? Or is it better if we don’t invite you at all? Back to square one.

There isn’t anything more annoying than your smug married friend, who hasn’t been on a date since the mid-noughties, express her belief, that you, too, will soon be lucky enough to be chosen.

Innocent coffee dates are rife with land mines too. The other day, over matcha lattes with my friend Polly, a talented financial analyst with a choppy pixie cut, a Chanel handbag and a razor sharp sense of humour, the discussion turned, as it always does, to the dearth of single eligible men in their late 20s or early 30s.

“There just isn’t anyone left,” she tells me, between sips of her steaming milky green drink.

Being married, and never having experienced singledom as an adult in the modern world of Tinder, Bumble, and the all-night tube, I am not particularly qualified to give dating advice. I just don’t know the rules.

“Look, there is someone out there for you, I know there is”, I respond, and she fixes me with her death stare. I know I’ve put my foot in it. Typical Smug Married move.

There is nothing more annoying than your Smug Married friend, who hasn’t been on a date since the mid-noughties, expressing her belief, that you, too, will soon be lucky enough to be chosen. Not only is this patronising, but it assumes that all single women do, in fact, want the same thing; an architect in shining Barbour with his own flat in Clapham (or, at a push, less than 6 months left to run on the lease of his flat share), and a readiness to commit.

“But I don’t want just anyone. If I did, it would be easy”. Panic sets in. I bite my lip and nod, stroking her hand reassuringly. She scoffs and pulls away.

I couldn’t possibly understand, as I’ve been with The Funny Man since I was a child; implying there was something rather uncouth at play during his courtship of me. A little unfair, we were 18 and 19 respectively when we met and, if his comic book collection and the chaos of his student flat were anything to go by, he was more the child.

“Exactly”, I respond, “who needs a relationship anyway? In fact, I envy your independence”.

“But I don’t want to be single”, her brow is furrowing deeper and deeper, and shaking her head. Her frustration with me is palpable. I am just awful.

“Right. Well Sam has some single friends, I could invite them to dinner next week…”

“Absolutely not. I hate fix ups”, shaking her head fervently.

Radio silence for 15 seconds as I pretend to check emails.

“How are things going with you and Sam?”

“Umm, yeah. You know. Pretty good, actually. But not all the time. Sometimes he leaves his socks in the bathroom”.

I am the worst. I am a Smug Married, and I am the worst.


Illustration by Lauren Gentry

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1 Comment

  • This made me chuckle a lot. I’ve been married shy of a year and only been with my husband for almost 3 years. It was a whirlwind of sorts, we figured out pretty swiftly they we were grand together and shared a connection we’d be willing to work at. He was my first grown up boyfriend and I went and married him.

    What I find difficult is that, in spite of my years of singleness prior to him I have somehow now lost my ability to give any kind of advice on being single, dating etc. As though my experience has no merit or possible source of advice worth listening to and I should probably just be quiet because I’m super happy and sorted now I’m married.
    And I am happy and I am fairly sorted now I’m married but that doesn’t stop there being major life things happening, that I’d like to talk about. But I find that – often – I cannot talk to some friends because regardless of what I have to say I am still a “smug married person”. Alas.

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