We have a big holiday coming up next weekend!
February 15th is Singles Awareness Day. It's a day where people who are single get to speak up and say, "hey, it's OKAY to be single."
More than merely okay, I think singlehood should be savored. The more I listen to people or see their posts on Facebook lamenting their single status, I’ve come to realize I’m a little bit weird. I’ve never felt the need to be partnered. Yes, I've suffered greatly from the loss of past loves in my life but it was more about my attachment to that person than feeling like a loser because now I wouldn't have a significant other.
Too many people spend significant amounts of time chasing idealized notions of happiness, peace and fulfillment by looking for love in the all the wrong places. And if they aren’t looking for true love, they are likely settling for sex with a rebound to feel "ok." Don’t get me wrong, I think a healthy sexual identity is part of a healthy life, but all too often people use sex to numb out, hide from true intimacy and the pain of whatever they are running from.
A friend said to me the other day, “it’s easy enough to find someone to f*%^. It’s much more difficult to commit to a partnership and find a soulmate.”
True words, indeed. I'd rather be alone than in a rebound, baby.
But our society glamorizes and reinforces this at every turn in marketing and media so it really takes some strength and conviction to stand apart from the crowd and claim your singlehood.
We shouldn't need another person's attention or presence to feel cool or normal or valid. We shouldn’t want a partner just so we’re not alone or people don’t think we are weird or broken in some way. In fact, some of the best times of my life have been the gaps between relationships. I know it can be hard to resist feelings of inadequacy or insecurity, so I thought I'd share some ways to help you savor your singlehood, too.
1) Go on a dating diet.
Research shows that diets don't work to help you lose weight. You end up gaining back whatever you lost and then some. Dating diets, however, can help you, especially if you find yourself in a trend with relationships. Feeling frustrated with your string of exes? A dating diet helps you step back and say, "whoa, now" and assess whatever the heck wasn't working. It does require you to actually not date. And abstain from sex, because that's a relationship, I don't care how casual it is. You're still seeking something from someone and distracting yourself with the attention and presence of that person. Your unresolved stuff that caused the trend with previous partners will still be there. A dating diet can help your mind and body detox from recurring patterns. Having a hard time with the thought of this? Consider you're addicted to needing something from other people, just like people are addicted to coffee or bread or cheese. What is that telling you?
2) Do whatever you want, whenever you want.
You can walk down the street and randomly decide you're going to the movies. Now. Or fill your weeknights and/or weekend with plans of things you love doing. Treat yourself to brunch. Get a new wardrobe. Travel to Italy. Masturbate. Make new friends. Wash the dishes, or not. Decide the pile of laundry can and should get bigger. Sit on the couch and don’t lift a finger for 12 hours, watching movies or knitting or reading whatever you like. When you're single, you get to have "you time" 24/7 and don't have to worry if you're walking that fine line between healthy independence and blatant selfishness. If you’re doing this in a relationship, you probably shouldn’t be in one.
3) Practice being comfortable and content with your own company.
Being alone means different things to different people. Some people really struggle with it, others find it completely comfortable. When your friends aren’t around and there’s nothing to do, are you comfortable and content with your own company? Do you need someone around or pursuing you to feel at peace? Try this for a week. Then two weeks. Then two months. Try not surrounding yourself with people every waking minute. Spend significant amounts of time alone with just yourself. Pay attention to your thoughts. Be really present with how it feels to be alone. Don't complain about it on Facebook, just be with it. Get in touch with what makes you happy. You will be able to see with stark clarity who you were drawn to and why things ended the way they did. It can help you get really clear on how you want to feel around all people, including an intimate partner. You can spend this time paying closer attention to communication habits and interpersonal interactions with every person in your life. Make art. Cook for yourself. Train for a triathlon. Become your own best friend so you never feel lonely or alone with or without the presence of another person.
4) Clearly see the misery disguised as "happy" all around you.
Don’t be deceived by appearances. Coupled people aren’t necessarily happy. As a health coach and general careful observer, I’ve learned how often people lead double lives. What you see in those instagram pictures may be the farthest thing from the actual truth. I know at least one "heterosexual" couple smiling for the camera though one of them is OBVIOUSLY and UNDOUBTEDLY gay. The tension between them was so obvious, you could cut it with a damn knife. You can pick up a lot listening to couples bicker in grocery stores or sitting silent at restaurants or you'll see subtle, resentful remarks made in a Facebook comment. I’m not saying everyone is miserable, but every time you scroll through Facebook or your phone thinking about everyone else who is so-called “happily” partnered, think again. Most people are drawn together and act out unresolved pain from childhood and adolescence. This doesn't always happen but many people are unhappy in their relationships, often enduring unfaithful partners or avoiding deep truths just to fit in with the crowd. They may not have summoned the courage to leave or really invest in improving the relationship they are in. This isn't to shame anyone, but if you find yourself making a comparison, know that many people probably envy you and your freedom!
5) Say novenas for the bullets you've dodged.
There is nothing like some good perspective, and a sighting of your ex’s rebound selection, to make you thank your lucky stars that you dodged a bullet. Time, space and some good healthy grieving will help you answer important questions like, “what, exactly, the heck was I thinking?” Reflect on the good times, sure, but bring into high contrast the memories of that person as he or she truly was. Remember the way that person made you feel. Were you loved? Cherished? Prioritized? Or were you treated like an accessory or afterthought over and over and over again? Think of the many people who came before you and say some prayers for the person who followed you in line, because they walked right into the mess that had your gut telling you to run away.
If you want to savor your singlehood, stop complaining about being single or feeling badly about it in any way. Choose to embrace the time and space you have to live your life completely free and unfettered. Practice being really good to your friends and yourself and develop into the partner you want to be when you find the right person. Your partnered friends in miserable relationships want to live vicariously through you, so LIVE IT UP!