People used to ask me “why are you single?” It’s a question most singles have been asked at one point or another and there really is no great or right answer. I once thought people asked that question to provoke deep and meaningful thoughts on self-reflection but it really isn’t the case. This is especially highlighted as your age increases and if you have a blossoming career. If we succeed further in our careers compared to our personal lives, does that mean we are underachievers when it comes to building intimate relationships?
Being single has taken on a new meaning in contemporary society. People are taking longer to establish careers and spending more time in school to get a degree. This is a far cry from when singles were thought of as a flawed bunch who were left behind after all the goods ones were picked. But we now believe in being with someone who provides the whole package. We wait for fireworks and sparks to fly because anything less than that in our minds would mean we are settling. We may not be doing ourselves a favour with that strategy, however. Love is learned because you learn to accept the flaws inherent with any human being.
So what’s left for single people if love is not in the cards (at least for right now)? Being single allows you to have the freedom to build on skills, friendships and interests. But it can also be lonely at times. It leads you to reflect on your own flaws and insecurities. It makes you question how other people somehow manage to find that special someone while a lovely person like you is still searching. Yes, it can get ugly sometimes when you’re single, and that is the truth.
Perhaps a possible point of salvation comes when you receive a distraught phone call from a friend at midnight about their relationship woes. It is at that point you thank your lucky stars you are not in an unhappy relationship. Relationships are hard work and test your patience at times. Those who enter into it with high hopes but realistic expectations are often times the happiest. In fact, recent research suggests that married people are no happier than single people. It all comes down to the level of support in your life, whether it’s from a spouse, friend or family member.
The great thing about life is that the story ends only when we stop turning the page. Being single is a chapter in life that pushes you to discovering who you are as an individual. It teaches us important lessons and that you are the only author writing your own experience. It gives you a sense of control and freedom that can be exhilarating. I’ve also recently learned that being single has certain perks like securing a prime spot at the movies since the number of seating is odd in each row. These are often the same reasons that make getting into a relationship challenging for those who have been single for a while. Learning to integrate someone and sharing the limelight can be difficult because you have to shift your focus to integrate someone other than yourself into your life.
You may long for the great love or the next great relationship to enter your life but the key to staying happy while you’re single is to open your heart. Learn to love the aspects of being single, believe that you may not be single forever and that even though you haven’t quite found that special someone that you are still loved by those who are close to you. Because of that, you are never truly single.
Amy Yew is a researcher and therapist. Tell us what you think and submit any questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also tweet your thoughts on Twitter @AmyYew.