Are you single and happy? This post is for you. Are you single and unhappy? This post is also for you.
More and more people are living a single life – but for different reasons. Three main “camps,” if you will, exist: One: you were in a relationship and it ended (for whatever reason); Two: you made a conscious decision to live a single life; Three: you’re in that middle ground, exploring “singlehood” as a temporary way station while you let fate take its course or you are coaxing things along by putting yourself “out there.”
Where are you? Wherever that might be, it seems like things are not so clear cut. You may be moving back and forth, changing your opinions about “coupling up”. You may be ambivalent or even have conflicting thoughts. Let’s ponder those.
Let’s say you’ve fallen out of a relationship or your lover or spouse ended it. You’ve lost something you had that, at least at some point, you enjoyed. Maybe you treasured it. Maybe you thought it was meant to be, forever and ever. Maybe you took it for granted. Maybe you’re relieved.
Lots of thoughts and questions run through your mind when you first experience the loss of a relationship. “I miss my partner.” “Why am I alone?” “It’s not fair this happened.” “Did I do something to create or encourage this situation?” “What should I do now?” My family and friends pity me.” “Who will support me emotionally?” “How do I do certain things by myself?” “Good riddance.”
Strong emotions may rise to the surface at times. You’re scared. You’re anxious. You’re sad. You’re depressed. You’re angry. You’re confused. You’re traumatized. You got used to having your partner around, to sharing your thoughts with them, to having intimate moments, to having fun, to having them there for emotional support and vice versa. How will you replace your mate? You feel lonely.
Choice vs. Lack
For some people, being single is a choice, rather than the result of lacking or losing someone. Think about that for a minute. It’s a completely different mindset. You can actually make a conscious choice to be single and enjoy it. People do it all the time. They’re not “in waiting” for the next relationship to come along. They’re not sad or depressed. They’re not putting their life “on hold.”
By being “in waiting,” you might be thinking, “Something is lacking in my life and I’m going to work on filling that void.” Alternatively, being “consciously single,” you might be thinking, “I have so many experiences to look forward to.” Nothing is lacking because you are experiencing the sheer joy of potentiality, of waiting to see what’s going to happen next.
Being consciously single, you have accepted the situation and detach from assigning it as either positive or negative; it just “is.” You are open to possibilities, not out of need, but out of a desire for discovery. All you need do is reach out and grab whatever strikes your fancy, like a bright red apple on a tree.
I can hear some of you saying, “But, everyone is supposed to have a mate. There’s someone out there that’s meant for me, my soul mate.” Or maybe you have friends who are partnered that seem happy and so you conclude that without a partner, you can’t fully be happy. Or maybe you were raised to believe that being in a relationship and marriage is meant for everyone.
Another argument goes the statistical route. You point to research studies that conclude people are happier when they’re in a relationship than when they’re not. Granted, there are a lot of studies that draw this conclusion.
But does being single really condemn you to a less satisfying life? Will the quality of your life suffer being single? Could the dissatisfaction be something you’re creating in your mind that manifests as a reality, making that dissatisfaction actually come true?
Some people have a fear-based approach to being single. They fear being alone for the rest of their life. They fear being an “old maid” or a “confirmed old bachelor” who has trouble forming committed relationship bonds. Or they fear the best years of their life are being wasted away single, or that they won’t be as attractive to a mate the older they get, or that the “best ones are taken”.
Dating does get harder as you get older – especially for women – as the ratio of available men to women diminishes and the odds of finding the right person seems to be less for all sorts of reasons. What was a meme circulating back in the 1980s …? According to some magazine article, you are less likely after the age of 40 to meet someone and get married than being killed by a terrorist. Come on. Do you really believe that stuff?
Some people think that if they are single over a long period of time that they’re doing something wrong. Some people are impressionable, easily swayed by others’ opinions rather than having their own opinions. “It’s a shame that someone as smart and attractive as you is alone,” a well-meaning friend might say.
Some people think that if you’re single:
· You can’t attract a mate
· There’s something wrong with you
· That you can’t hold on to a relationship
· That you are desperately looking for a mate
· That you’re lonely
· That you are to be pitied
Those are some of society’s assumptions and attitudes that single people are sometimes up against. You don’t have to agree with them. You don’t have to be persuaded by them. You don’t have to feel like an outcast because you don’t buy into them. You are in control of your own feelings.
Being Single Has Its Perks
· The opportunity to connect with yourself, talk to yourself, focus on yourself
· The satisfaction of finding your own answers, coming to your own conclusions, solving problems on your own.
· A clearer realization of what you want out of life, what is missing.
· Discovering a new skill or talent, your life’s purpose, what you dreamed about but never gave it serious thought
· More time and energy for the things YOU and YOU alone want to do
· More freedom to pursue career goals and take risks
· No obligations or compromises to satisfy the relationship
· Opening yourself up to possibilities like meeting new people, going to new places, participating in new activities, having new experiences.
· You may even discover that you are happier being single
Asking the Hard Questions
In getting to the bottom of whether you’re happy being single or not or how you can make peace with it, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
· Are you happier in a relationship than not?
· Are there certain characteristics about singlehood that makes it right and comfortable for you?
· Are their ways you can arrange your life so that your social needs are being met without being in a relationship?
· If you can’t enjoy being in your own company, can you really enjoy being with someone else?
So, are you happy being single?