Live Your Best (Single) Life While You’ve Got It
Updated: Mar 30
By: Jennifer Klesman, LCSW
Regardless of age, most of us cringe at the idea of being single. Society has taught us that being single means being lonely and unchosen. In movies, when girls get out of relationships, their friends swoop in to take them out for a good time, and by the end of the movie someone usually far better than their ex has shown up. So rather than sitting around depressed and grieving the loss of their last relationship, women are shown that the period after a breakup is brief because you will soon find someone better.
But being single is actually evolving and now is probably the best time in the history of civilization to be single. Gone is the stigma of an old maid who is barren and missed the ship for her marketable years as a romantic prospect. Granted, we all have goals and desires for our future, but sometimes those outlooks keep us from living in the present. The best way to change this is to really reframe how you see the single life.
Learn to let go of the “should be”
At 26, you “should be” engaged or married. At 30 you “should be” a mother already. At 40, you “should be” a homeowner with a family. Ask yourself: Who created these “should be’s” for you? It could have been parents, the culture we live in, the media, or just ourselves.
When I was graduating from high school, I imagined that I would have a boyfriend in college that would evolve into a long-term relationship. By 24 I would be engaged and ideally married by 25 or 26. I had planned to wait a few years before having kids to be sure my marriage worked, but to fathom waiting until I was 30 was not in the cards. I planned to be done with having kids by 30 so that I could focus on them. Teenage me just figured that my career would just happen sometime along the way.
In hindsight these are hilarious and ridiculous milestones to me because I was nowhere near ready for any of those major life changes in my early 20’s. I’m now 32, never married, single, and not really sure that I even want kids anymore. However, would I trade the last few years I’ve spent single to be married now? Not for the world. I held onto this timeline for quite a while before I realized that what I “should be” is happy now and not waiting for someone else to come along and make me happy. Make your own happy life that isn’t dependent on a partner to be content; friends and family can also fill that time.
Find Your Mantra
This is not necessarily the type of mantra that you repeat daily, but one that follows your values and that you can turn back to whenever the going gets tough.
“I am missing you far better than I ever loved you.” - How to Survive the Loss of a Love (Harold Bloomfield, Melba Colgrove, & Peter McWilliams)
“This longing will shorten my life.” - How to Survive the Loss of a Love (Harold Bloomfield, Melba Colgrove, & Peter McWilliams)
“There’s a guy out there who’s going to be really happy that you didn’t get back together with your crappy ex-boyfriend.” - He’s Just Not That Into You (Greg Behrendt & Liz Tuccillo)
I collected a lot of quotes when I was newly single to cope with the uncomfortable feelings of being on my own again - a place, at the time, I didn’t want to be. I admit that I never read Eat, Pray, Love; it just didn’t entirely feel up my alley as a book about finding myself. However, while browsing the internet, I found a number of the book’s quotes which I found spoke to me.
“I’m choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.” — Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)
“When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.” — Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)
“So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it. You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of him because then you’ll be really alone, and you’re scared to death of what will happen if you’re really alone. But here’s what you gotta understand. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with the doorway? It will rush in and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed. So stop using that boy to block that door. Let it go.” — Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)
Reframe and Enjoy This Time Alone and with Others
I’ve always figured that when I get married, I’ll never live alone or with my friends again. So why rush into where you’ll ideally be for the rest of your life? It’s like how as kids, we just want to grow up so quickly, but once on our own, all we want is to be kids again. While many people choose to live together for financial reasons or simply because it’s the “next step,” I find that by the time cohabiting people get married, there is very little new brought to the relationship other than the rings and the newly shared debt.
Embrace your friends and family. They’re what you’ve got when you’re single. So many people tend to turn their back on both when they get into relationships, either consciously or not. Then when the relationship ends, they’re suddenly left with this open gap where their life and identity had been. Most forgiving friends will still be there even after months of friendship neglect, but sometimes finding new ones is necessary. Single friends are some of the best allies to single people. They’re someone to go out and do things with. They’re your Friday night dinner plans, your wing man and confidant.
Become the Person You Want to Find.
Utilize this time that you’re single to really find out who you are and what you want to attract. It’s hard to admit that sometimes we don’t have the most attractive traits to those we want to attract; yet in some cases, we can change that. When returning to dating, if you want someone who is in shape, educated, healthy, loves to travel, successful, well-read, etc., then become that person. Go back and get that degree you wanted, learn a new skill, utilize your single friends, go to meetups, join clubs. No one else’s schedule is stopping you from moving to a new city, going on a trip, or changing any part of your lifestyle you’d like to improve. Being on your own can really solidify your values and goals so even when someone else comes along, who you are doesn’t change in response. As you become who you want to attract, while on that path, you may even find who you’re looking for or find yourself in a much happier place in life while you’re single.
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