I’m not sure when it became (or rather, why it still is) an expectation for everyone to match up and be in a relationship. Sure, being single sometimes sucks. But I think we often underestimate the importance of being single. I think we put so much pressure on ourselves and on other people to be paired up that we don’t take a second to stop and realize that being single doesn’t make you less of a complete person. In fact, I’d argue that learning how to be single well is a skill that will be necessary in your quest for wholeness. I think being single teaches you a lot about yourself and a lot about life.
1) Being alone and being lonely are not the same thing – When you’re feeling lonely it’s easy to blame the fact that you’re not in a relationship for that emotion. But the truth is, while I’m technically alone (as in, I don’t have a boyfriend), I’m not a lonely person. Sure, there are moments of loneliness but I had moments of loneliness even while I was in relationships, if I could be honest here for a second. Those moments, though, are not and have never been tied directly to my relationship status. Everyone gets down sometimes, but I ultimately have things and people in my life that make it full. Single doesn’t equal alone.
2) Finding things you love to do, without another person, makes you a richer person — I took poetry classes. I just signed up for a photography class. I go to the local coffee shop every Saturday and write for hours. I sit in Bryant Park when the weather is nice and read a book. I know what I love to do when I’m free to do anything at all.
3) You get more confidence if you’re doing it right – If you only look at being single as the time when you’re between relationships, that’s how others will perceive you. You’ll be the person that’s always paired up, or working on being paired up. But when you learn how to be single really well, I think you ooze confidence. You’re standing tall all by yourself, even though no one is writing you love notes and sending good luck texts your way before a big meeting. When you’re going through a break up, there’s a period of time when you think you’ll never be able to do anything the same way you used to without the other person. And sure, you can’t. But you can do it better.
4) Some things you think you do only when you’re in a relationship are things you should probably do anyway – you shouldn’t only shave your legs when you’re in a relationship, ladies. Bare legs on cool sheets are amazing, even if there’s no one curled up next to you. There are things we do in a relationship (leave work early to make sure you’re able to spend an evening in with your significant other; go to the gym to stay fit and looking good naked; unplug for a weekend and focus on the life in front of you; skip making out with shady strangers at bars; etc.) that you should be doing for YOU – not for other people. And when you’re single, you’ll miss those things. Do them anyway.
5) You get to know yourself, without another person’s image of you clouding your judgment – I have an ex who loved my hair curly. So I wore my hair curly. I HATE my hair curly. When we broke up, I got my hair professionally straightened. Because I liked myself better that way. And I was the only person I needed to worry about pleasing. Stop asking your significant other if you look fat in that dress. Just look in the mirror and decide for yourself.
6) You can keep a really busy schedule all on your own – repeat after me: I do not need a boyfriend to have something to do. I’m actually concerned that if I get a boyfriend, I won’t be able to make time to see him. Between work, various groups of friends, and ME time; I keep a really packed schedule. It’s hard when you’re in a relationship to imagine the bulk of your time spent doing anything else with anyone else… but you can do it.
Take advantage of being single — the right way. I’d love to hear what everyone else out there learned while they were ridin’ solo (yeah, I said ridin’ solo…).