singlehood

What to say when asked why you're single.

Well, here we are.

It’s that time of year when you’re attending parties and stuff and people like to be curious (read: rude) and ask about your relationship status, assuming and asserting in their question that you’re doing something WRONG if you’re still single. Meanwhile they walk into the next room and have a co-dependent cat fight with the person they hate but can’t quit on or leave. And you’re like, “really? I’m supposed to want THAT for myself?”

Mmmm. I know you’re thinking #notallrelationships but, there’s a part of you that knows I’m right. Right? Right.

I’m sort of kidding here. Of course I know there are many people who find the loves their lives and feel really happy. But from conversations in coaching sessions and also with friends or peers, it’s been a real eye-opener for me how many relationships aren’t the wedded/partnered bliss that I once believed from what’s being portrayed. I think it’s important to unpack that and make it more real.

The questioning about relationship status happens whatever age you are but especially in middle and late adulthood, when social expectations about partnership and family are fierce. Being single during these years often has a negative stigma which is hilarious because I believe most people are more miserable than they are happily matched. Don’t let people make you think otherwise.

Is being single lonely? Sure. Sometimes.

Is being single awesome? YES! You get all the time to do all the things!

Is being single some indication of you being broken or weird or some other word because you don’t fit into a widely-regarded yet rarely-explored social norm? NOPE.

Finding a partner you truly love and respect is awesome. If you’re monogamous and that’s your thing, of course. Finding a happy partnership could, and should(?), really add benefit for your life. But being single has its merits and there’s no need to keep struggling and suffering about your status for yet another holiday season—and beyond.

Unlike what people may try to insinuate, being single may indicate you have one of three things:

1) taste- you don’t settle. It’s just not how you’re built. You have standards and you stick to them and don’t really feel inclined to deviate. Rigorously high standards? What IS too high, really? People don’t come with return receipts without some fallout so…you peruse the merchandise more carefully before choosing.

2) self-confidence- sure, being single can be weird sometimes when you’re hanging around a bunch of people who partnered up from fear of being alone (OFTEN) or because they actually love the person they’re with (RARE) but only if you think about it from the lens of lack. BE CONFIDENT and you will soon see things for how they really are. Hint: listen carefully when couples interact with each other. It reveals a lot.

3) patience- I mean, what’s the rush? Finding someone to be with just so you can fit in or feel “normal”? So you can spend your best years playing games or struggling in power dynamics that leave you exhausted? What if you waited until you’re more mature and got yourself figured out well and then find someone who has also done that work. EUREKA! Sounds like heaven to me. People used to get hitched so young because they had livestock to care for and needed bodies to tend the critters. These people also died by the age of 40. We aren’t there anymore. We can do things differently. Take your time.

***NOW. If you are single from fear of commitment or because you seem to have some behaviors that limit your emotional availability or…something else a coach or therapist can help you with, I suggest you look into getting some support. It IS worth exploring why you’re single if you feel fear or discomfort about your status.***

After being single for so many years (I’ve lost count now), someone asked me the other day if I wanted to be partnered again. It was interesting to be asked that and I wondered if it’s because it’s SUCH a cultural expectation even if you, like I, feel pretty content with your single-hood. While I grieved the person or the loss of my past relationships, I never really had baggage around being a single person. I see people strugging around it probably because they’re concerned with what people think of them. I do worry about this, for other reasons, but not because I feel insecure about being single. Being selectively single for this many years has allowed me time and space to witness other peoples’ relationships and reflect on my own over the years. All this introspection helps me be really clear and intentional about who I’d like to be and what I’d really want in my next relationship. And that’s exactly what I told the person who asked me.

I hope this is helpful if you’ve been feeling badly about being single or unsure what to say when asked about it. You may find even more peace if you consider how much the culture is obsessed with partnering up even when it doesn’t serve people or make them satisfied. And it’s amusing how people project their expectations onto you. People may even feel envious or, in some cases, even threatened by someone being single, often because they are unsatisfied in whatever arrangement they have and desperately crave the freedom that comes with single-hood. When they ask you, remember this, and you might inspire them with your empowered answer!!

If people come at you with their weirdness about your life choices, you can use one of these cleverly-crafted replies below. If you want to quote me, GO FOR IT. Share the love. ;)

Just do whatever you need to do to feel good about your status as a single person and take action to change it, only if you WANT to.

If people ask why you're still single, you can reply:

1) because I'm not insecure and don't need to fit into societal expectations

2) because I'm waiting to find an emotionally mature partner and haven't met that person yet

3) because I'm working on my own personal development until I feel confident and mature enough to make a good partner

4) I feel confident I will find the right person when the time is right, and I don't need to force anything

5) I'm content living by myself and enjoy my solitude

6) I'd rather invest in myself and my friends and not chase people around just to look "normal" 

7) I don't feel incomplete without a partner, so I can be patient to find the right one

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

5 Ways to Savor Your Singlehood

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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!