I have now been single eight years. I would love to say this time has been compensated with endless travel and amazing life experiences, but the truth is the last few years have been pretty challenging. While so many good things have happened to me in these years, I still find myself wondering if I’m somehow inferior.
Looking back, I realise I’ve invested in a ton of great friendships, which wouldn’t have enjoyed the same depth had I gone from romance to romance. And these aren’t seasonal or circumstantial friendships, these are lifelong relationships— people I’ll still be able to have a yarn with when I’m 50.
While I still have my fair share of days where I feel like I’m going to be an old person with lots of pets, I’ve discovered some wisdom which has made me feel a little more hopeful.
Often, as single people, we look at married people (or those in relationships) as being the ones who’re living the dream and have this thing called ‘life’ all figured out. They’re sitting up some high place, looking down on us singles and, of course, are so much happier and better off than we could ever dream.
But while research shows married people tend to be (on the whole) happier than singles, we need to remember there are two types of people in relationships: those who are in happy, healthy relationships and those who are in unhappy, unhealthy relationships. The fact is, people in unhappy relationships are in a far worse position than those of us who are alone.
As singles, we are only one step away from a healthy and exciting lifelong romance. But people in unhappy relationships have to somehow wriggle their way out of that relationship, deal with the fallout and then work themselves into a place where they can look for romance again. As a good friend, who is now married, once said to me, ‘Being single is the next best thing to being with the right person’.
So, single people, don’t see your position as one of darkness and despair. But rather, one that’s a little more neutral and full of hope. See it as a time to develop lifelong friendships and community. Invest in activities you enjoy.
Personally, I feel like my single years have given me the opportunity to grow up and work on my ‘personal challenges’. This doesn’t mean that I’ve arrived at some ‘nirvana’ where I’m ready for marriage—I think we are always growing, and being single has allowed me to grow in some specific ways. On that note, I’m off to tidy my room.
HOW TO BE (HAPPY AND) SINGLE:
Don’t give in to cynicism: Becoming cynical can be a coping mechanism, but don’t lose hope—there is much goodness in maintaining hope.
Feel the feelings: Acknowledge your feelings, and know that you will be okay. Who are you and what do you need to feel complete? You cannot expect that to come from another person—own it.
Foster other relationships: Value the relationships that have been there through all your romances. Meet new people, too.
Make ‘mistakes’: Live your life! Rather than protecting yourself, be brave enough to stay vulnerable. Tell that person you like them—the worst that can happen is they won’t like you back. Now you know and you can move on.