Being single is a completely different experience for every person. Some people have been single for most of their life and find confidence and independence in being single. For others, being single can be a scary experience especially for those who have recently ended a relationship because they no longer have someone to rely on. While there are many stereotypes about those who are single, such as being “unlovable” or “unworthy,” being single can actually be a very empowering time in someone’s life if they use that time to become both self-reliant and more self-aware. This article focuses on the benefits of being single and outlines how to make the most of it, regardless of your age.
Being Alone Doesn’t Have to be Lonely
The Universal Expectation
Dating is oftentime seen as “practice for marriage.” So, a person will sometimes enter into various relationships with the intention of learning more about who they are both individually and alongside someone else. With each relationship, a person can learn more for future relationships and eventually find someone they want to marry. This is all due to a certain mold many people look forward to fitting into during their adult lives, known as a nuclear family. The universal mold of a nuclear family is composed of two parents and their children. Being part of a nuclear family often gives people a sense of comfort, belonging, value, and purpose. Having a partner to raise a family with can give each parent someone to rely on and having children can give each parent a sense of purpose and someone who looks up to them. This leads to a societal expectation that nuclear families serve a purpose to their community through procreation, education, and economic values.1 Without a partner, and oftentimes without children, single people are stereotyped as “lonely,” “selfish,” and less integral to their community.2 This creates a seemingly isolated atmosphere surrounding people who choose to live their life single. Despite these negative stigmas, there are benefits to enjoy which is why, despite certain stereotypes, many people are single not because they are “unlovable,” but because they choose to be.
It is common for people to say that they want to love themselves before they can begin to love anyone else. This can be a hard thing for many people to do. Learning to love yourself can be a long process, but being single allows time and space for growth. While in a relationship, you may feel obligated to prioritize not only yourself, but someone else as well. This can force some people in relationships to minimize their own well-being for their partner’s. While single, many people can act selfish and often prioritize themselves and their futures, without worrying about anyone else’s. Many people choose to be single before entering a relationship so that they can be sure of what they individually need to thrive and to be happy. Others are unmotivated by an end-goal of ending up in a relationship and choose to practice self-love simply to enjoy their own presence and to grow comfortable with themselves. Whatever the intention, prioritizing yourself is an important part of growing and is more easily done while being single.
The first step to learning to love yourself is finding what makes you happy. Practicing self-care is an easy way to do this. Self-care can present itself in many forms, but it always requires a focus on prioritizing yourself by doing activities such as:
- Finding a new hobby, or diving deeper into a current interest.
- Prioritizing your physical and mental health.
- Learning personal boundaries.
- Focusing on what makes you happy.
- Removing toxic people and situations from your life.
- Focusing on your career.
By prioritizing yourself you can fully invest in your happiness and your mental and physical well-being. Also, doing so can help increase both your confidence and trust in yourself and it is an important part of self-growth regardless of whether you’re entering a relationship or not.
Learning to Trust Yourself
Trust is fundamental in any relationship, including the one you have with yourself. People will often worry about the trust they place in others, such as with their significant other or friends. However, trusting others is much more difficult if you cannot trust yourself first. This can be an intimidating process because it requires solitude, self-reflection, mistakes, forgiveness, and time. Trusting yourself depends on self-confidence and being self-assured. There are several things you must do while learning to trust yourself:
- Forgiving yourself.
- Reflecting on what you truly want.
- Keeping promises to yourself.
- Believing in yourself and your abilities.
- Expressing your authentic self.
Creating a healthy relationship with yourself and your mental health takes practice and learning from your mistakes. The root of learning to trust yourself is being comfortable with this lengthy process. This process can help you to learn to rely on yourself and no one else. When compared to married people, single people have been found to be more autonomous than married people.3
Letting Other Relationships Thrive
One overlooked benefit of being single is that it allows time for you to focus on a variety of social connections. Those in relationships will spend more time on their significant other in an effort to form a closer bond with that person. As a result, their friends and other social connections can be neglected or distanced. Married peoples’ lives can oftentimes center on their family rather than their community. Single people, on the other hand, have the freedom to spread their time making multiple types of social connections. This can be from their friends, their extended family, or from people within their community. People who are single are often more involved in their community than married people.4 For some, these types of emotional connections can be more fulfilling, because they are able to reach a greater audience and do not rely on a select few people.
Investing in Friends
Rather than investing most of their time into a relationship single people can enjoy the luxury of spending time with friends. Spending more time with friends will strengthen those relationships, place greater value on them, and will create a deeper connection within them. Those in relationships can find that their significant other will fill a multitude of “roles” that a group of friends could satisfy instead. So single people can instead fills the roles of best friend, adventure buddy, dinner date, etc. into different friends, rather than expecting the same person to fill those roles as many people in relationships do. For single people, it is often easier to be friends with other single people because they have similar priorities and have no relational commitment to any one person. Groups of friends can fulfill the emotional connections a relationship offers. Groups of friends, or even two friends, can have the same traditions as couples do.
The Dating World
Dating does not have to be motivated by a desire to end up in a relationship. For some, dating is a fun way to meet new people. You can enjoy the presence of another and go on adventures like people in relationships do. Without a commitment to someone else you have the freedom to go on dates with multiple people. This can teach you what you appreciate in others whether that is future spouses or just friends. By not tying yourself to one person you can meet many people which helps you learn what you value in a relationship. Dating can even be done online. This method of dating is becoming more common, with 1 in 10 Americans having used a dating site.5 This is due to the ease of meeting new people that you would otherwise never meet. Online dating also lets single people decide whether they want to just go on fun dates, enter a new relationship, or find someone with which to simply hookup.
Being Newly Single
A breakup can be difficult for many reasons regardless of the length of the relationship. It takes time to transition from relying on someone else to discovering this newfound independence. There are many challenges to overcome such as navigating relations with an “ex” after the relationship ends and learning how to rely on yourself again. This process will take time to navigate, but understanding that being alone is okay will help ease the process. Take this time to define yourself as an individual independent of anyone else. Practicing self-care, as outlined above, can help you learn more about who you are and can help you learn to trust yourself.
Being single does not have to be a negative experience in a person’s life. Rather than spending most of their time focusing on a connection with one person, singles can spend their time with a variety of others including friends, family, and people within their community. The independence this allows will give you time to learn to prioritize yourself which can lead to improved mental health and an increase in the amount of trust you have in yourself.
- Hendrix, Lewellyn. “Nuclear Family Universals: Fact and Faith in the Acceptance of an Idea.” Journal of Comparative Family Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, 1975, pp. 125–138.
- DePaulo, Bella M., and Morris, Wendy L. “Singles in Society and in Science.” Psychological Inquiry, vol. 16, no. 2-3, 2005, pp. 57-83.
- Marks, Nadine F., and James David Lambert. “Marital Status Continuity and Change Among Young and Midlife Adults.” Journal of Family Issues, vol. 19, no. 6, 1998, pp. 652–686.
- Sarkisian, Natalia, and Naomi Gerstel. “Does Singlehood Isolate or Integrate? Examining the Link between Marital Status and Ties to Kin, Friends, and Neighbors.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, vol. 33, no. 3, Mar. 2015, pp. 361–384.
- Smith, Aaron, and Monica Anderson. “5 Facts about Online Dating.” Pew Research Center. N.p., 29 Feb. 2016. Web.