How to Feel OK With Being Single, According to Relationship Experts3 Min Read
It’s normal to sigh about being single, or even feel a tiny bit jealous of friends in relationships (even if those relationships aren’t happy ones). In fact, maybe you’ve experienced the anxiety yourself. Being single has an ill-begotten stigma, but it’s past time to dispel the myth that being single is the same as being unwanted.
In fact, there is incredible value in embracing your singleness.
Obviously, that goes against a lot of what society tells you. Movies and novels constantly rely on someone finding their perfect match and living happily ever after as an ultimate end goal. Of course, the happily-ever-after part doesn’t actually exist.
Relationship or no relationship, every stage of life has ups and downs, and chances are you are the most consistent person to get you through those times. But the world can be lonely at times, and the idea still holds a near-fantastical appeal: Once you find your person, you’ll surely be happy. This idea is explored and condemned more explicitly in Salem Ilese’s song “Mad at Disney,” and other works are also debunking a neat and tidy romantic ending.
“Society has made getting a man or woman the ultimate goal — that they are the hottest commodity — but in reality this is not the case,” John and Julia Gottman, the founders of the Gottman Institute, explain in their book, “The Man’s Guide to Women.”"Being single isn’t better or worse than being in a relationship. It is just different.”
For many people, being in a relationship can simply be a way of masking deeper feelings of discontent.
You might recognize this most in friends who seem to jump from one relationship to the next, without ever sitting in their singleness and their feelings. While that might be a way of coping, they can easily repeat patterns in those relationships. Ultimately, it takes them longer to learn lessons that single people might be stewing in.
Being alone with yourself can initially seem harder, especially if you find yourself forced to confront the things that are internally and externally contributing to your unhappiness. But out of this discomfort comes an opportunity for meaningful, lasting personal growth — and once you have accomplished this, you’ll be bringing a better, happy, more resilient version of yourself when the right person does come alone.
There’s also the fact that being in a relationship requires a lot of time, dedication, and compromise.
Being single? You are only beholden to yourself, which means you can practice saying “yes” to other opportunities and people in your life. Valentine's Day with your best friends? Yes, please. That work promotion you were gunning for that’s going to require a heavier commitment to your job? Bring it on. That backpacking trip across Asia? Absolutely.
That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t do any of these things while being partnered. You’re still you, even in a relationship. But given healthy relationships require you to take stock of another person’s feelings and priorities, there might be more to consider before you say “yes” right out of the gate.
What is the main takeaway here?
Ultimately, being afraid of loneliness is understandable and totally human — but it can also be better in the long run than partnering with the wrong person.
“One of the best tips to a successful relationship is getting to know yourself first,” life coach Jay Shetty explains in his book Eight Rules of Love. “It seems obvious, but many people avoid this step, preferring the stability and comfort of a relationship to being single. The issue with this approach is that it causes you to develop your own sense of identity around the context of the other person.”
Shetty goes on to say: “You want to go on a journey with someone, not to make them your journey.” And if you can take that journey on your own time, why not make the most of it?