DISCLAIMER: Firstly, this blog post is not anti-relationships. Secondly, I’m aware that not all single people want to be in relationships one day. Some of us are what social psychologist Bella DePaulo calls “single at heart”; people who are single “because it suits them” and because it’s “who they really are” . Others are waiting for the right person. Some of us are dating. Some of us don’t know what we want. Whatever category you fit into, hopefully you find something of value in this blog post.
(Inspired by Mbalenhle’s “You are the one you’ve been looking for” ).
To the single people and to the daydreamers…
A lot of us who have currently (or perpetually) non-existent love lives fantasise about one. A cute couple on Instagram, a conversation with a friend or a wedding scene in a movie can be the catalyst for a series of “what-ifs” in our head that are then the catalyst for…
But a lot of the time, as Mbalenhle notes – that person in our daydreams doesn’t have any imperfections. The world that we dream of, the world in which you and “they” hypothetically exist is faultless; ethereal almost.
It’s nice to dream.
But how do we balance between the fantasy and our current reality? How do we stop ourselves from adopting a ‘when I’m…’ mindset in regards to relationships? By this I mean:
the “when I meet someone, then I’ll be good” mindset.
The idea that you’re waiting around to be happy and to finally feel valued and complete.
Yes, some of us find being single hard and want to be in relationships. YUMI (Youtuber) gets real about this in her “valentine’s day real talk: being single sucks sometimes”
video. And yes, relationships are a good thing- fulfilling a basic human need for companionship.
My point however, is this:
YOU CAN BE SINGLE AND HAPPY!
It just takes more of a concentrated effort in a world where “#relationshipgoals” exist and you’re asked “What’s wrong with you?” after telling someone you’re single (a question usually accompanied by an array of naturally well-meaning but ultimately back-handed compliments).
So, how can you be happy and single?
- Realise that your feelings toward being single may vary. On some days, you will be over the moon; glad that you’re free and exempt from any stresses of being in a relationship. On other days though, you may wonder when exactly you will meet “the one”. So, when you find yourself feeling disheartened, don’t fret too much. By tomorrow you’ll probably be team #singlelifeisamazing again.
- Acknowledge the other relationships in your life. Remind yourself of your family and friends and the value that they add to your life. Relationships are not limited to romantic ones.
- Develop a healthy relationship with yourself. Editor, Margarita Tartakovsky, at PscyhCentral provides some useful tips for doing so here.
– Susannah Conway (author, photographer and teacher)
A healthy self- relationship can help remind you that another person cannot be your ultimate source of happiness.
To me, a healthy self-relationship is one where you get to know and value yourself as a whole. This means an awareness of your strengths and your shortcomings. It also includes the ability to self-reflect; something that comes hand in hand with solitude, another very beautiful thing.
- Vent to your friends. Being single can be an interesting experience. One where a multitude of feelings are involved. Talking to your friends who are in the same or similar positions, helps you to realise that no, it’s not just you who wonders if you’ll ever be in a relationship. It’s not just you that is growing tired of fruitless dates. It’s not just you who keeps getting their hopes up only to be disappointed. It’s not just you who’s never been in a relationship. It’s not just you that hasn’t been on a date.
Whenever anxious thoughts concerning singleness flood your mind, find happiness in relating with others or in simply reminding yourself that:
it’s not just you.
Because it really isn’t. And no, there’s nothing wrong with you if you’re not in a relationship.
- Get to know yourself. Clinical psychologist, Meg Jay in her book “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now“ (2016: 116), discusses how some research states in young couples specifically, “the more likely two people’s personalities are, the more likely they are to be satisfied with their relationship”. She goes on to write that:
Personality is not about what we have done or even what we like. It is about how we are in the world, and this infuses everything we do. Personality is the part of ourselves we take everywhere… so it is worth knowing something about.
Meg Jay refers to “The Big Five” ; one of “the simplest and most widely researched models of personality” which measures five personality traits; openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. Then there’s the Myers-Briggs personality test, which I have found to be very insightful. This test, however, has been deemed low in scientific validity. The Big Five personality test also has its issues.
With all this mind, I guess all I can say is proceed with caution.
Will I stop nodding vehemently every time I read a “20 things all INFPs (my Myers-Briggs personality type) will relate to” article?
It’s a matter of taking things with a pinch of salt.
Olivia Goldhill, reporter for the Quartz news website, says this:
Contrary to the popular idea that we have some inherent true self, our personality is best scientifically evaluated simply according to how we—and those around us—see ourselves.
Regardless of the methods we choose to get to know ourselves, “The Book of Life” (an offshoot of The school of Life) in a chapter called “Self” states that:
A lack of self-knowledge leaves you open to accident and mistaken ambitions.
An example of this “accident” or “mistaken ambition” as it pertains to this topic is choosing the wrong partner.
All of us are crazy in very particular ways. We’re distinctively neurotic, unbalanced and immature, but don’t know quite the details because no one ever encourages us too hard to find them out.
Although the “knowledge of our own neuroses is not at all easy to come by”, I’m sure that looking deep enough within ourselves and asking the right questions is a step in the right direction.
Ultimately, when we begin to know ourselves, the things we learn (the ugly things in particular) can be the impetus for a mindset where we acknowledge that if we are to improve as individuals, singleness is not a hindrance but an aid to this process. The possibility for this view of singleness rings especially true when you consider that a poor level of understanding of our characters does not put us in any position to know who we should be looking out for in the first place.
Perhaps there is happiness to be found in discovering and managing one’s own madness before another’s.
- Pursue your goals. It’s not like being single is this time period where you just wait around for somebody. All of us have goals, activities we want to try, things we’re interested in, projects we’re working on. Remind yourself of the things you’ve wanted to do for a long time.Keep working towards your goals. Imagine getting into a relationship and asking the person “So what you do in your free time?”, only for them to say “Oh, nothing, I was waiting for you”.
Beyond the occasional aches concerning singleness, contentment can be found in pursuing your dreams even when the outcome is uncertain. Considering where the completion of your goals can lead to in life is exciting; a destination that is not reliant on the presence of a partner.
- Delve deeper into your spirituality/faith. To those of you who are spiritual or follow a specific faith, use them as a tool to find contentment whenever you’re feeling unease about your singleness. Robert Puff, clinical psychologist, examines the link between faith and happiness in this article.
How does developing a relationship with God or strengthening an existing one play a role in your life as a single person?
- Remind yourself that being single is great. The lyrics from Jorja Smith’s “Teenage Fantasy” come to mind for this last point:
When we are young, we all want someone
Who we think is the one, just to fit in
There’s no need to rush, take your time
Life’s a big old ride, sit back and enjoy the vibe
Contentment is what I think of when I hear these lyrics; practicing gratitude for where you are right now:
The practice of this gratitude can come through reminding yourself of the perks that come with singleness. Use videos or articles like the one previously linked to do so.
In addition, consider the following:
What are the perks of being single pertaining to you and your life right now?
Regardless of all the tips I’ve listed above, I realise some of you may be thinking “well this is all well and good but…”
To those of you who feel more #SINGLEANDALONE, a reminder that your feelings are valid. Check out this post on dealing with loneliness when you’re single.
For now though, to you. Yes, you, you fabulous human being. To freedom, daydreaming, emotional fluctuation and to contentment.