By Danielle Kam
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being single, whether it’s by choice or not—and whether you’ve been single for 10 years or two months. Or maybe you don’t want a relationship, and don’t think you ever will. That’s totally valid! Nevertheless, sometimes not having a partner can feel less than ideal, whether that’s due to pressure we put on ourselves, pressure from others, or both. To help fight that feeling (and help you see that being single can be empowering), we asked experts to share their advice.
Get curious about your feelings
If you’re feeling bad or self-conscious about not having a partner, it’s helpful to get curious about why. Therapist Emily Fiorelli suggests asking yourself if you’re “holding yourself to expectations set by your friends, family, or the media.” If you realize that the source of your feelings is external, take charge of the narrative. Be honest with family and friends by letting them know that you’re comfortable and happy with your relationship status and you’d prefer to discuss other things in your life, like how well you’re doing at work or the marathon you just ran. You may also want to mute or unfollow people who constantly post their partners on social media.
Sometimes the source of these feelings is internal, and having a partner is a goal that you set for yourself. It’s helpful to remember that we’re our own worst critics and often judge ourselves for not meeting our own expectations. But rather than judging, try to examine what’s important to you. Fiorelli suggests asking yourself how you want to feel in your next relationship and where you need to grow in order to be ready for that. Figuring out these feelings can help you move towards your desires in a healthy way, rather than being upset that you’re not there yet.
Remember that being single doesn’t equal being lonely
Being single absolutely doesn’t mean that you’re alone. Consider the relationships that you do have: being a part of your family, feeling connected to close friends, feelings of belonging and support with colleagues or your team at work. Prioritize social connections, spend quality time with these people, and dig into the positive feelings that come up for you from these existing relationships, says Fiorelli.
Ask yourself what you want—and cultivate an empowered relationship with yourself
One of the benefits of being single is that you can work on your relationship with yourself and focus on your own growth and goals. Being single means you aren’t beholden to a romantic partner in any way, says relationship coach Monica Parikh. Take this moment to open yourself up to something new, take care of yourself, and get to know your needs better. You might like to find a partner, but what else do you want? Do you want to develop your hobbies? Learn a new skill? Travel? Working out what you want—and focusing on doing things that make you feel good—will help you lean into the single life.
Stop comparing and try on a new perspective
It can be difficult when it feels like everyone around you is in a relationship, especially if that’s something you want. But people get into relationships for any number of reasons at all sorts of stages of life. “When we spend our time looking outwards at what other people have,” says Fiorelli, “we often forget that where we are in life is valid and worth our joy, too.”
Psychotherapist Aimee Hartstein also notes that it might be helpful to give yourself a dose of perspective by talking to friends who have long-term partners and kids. “Spend time listening to how overwhelmed they might be,” she says. “You’ll never have this amount of freedom and independence again.” It can be helpful to remember that relationships often come with compromise and their own set of challenges.
Keep in mind that things often happen in unexpected ways
While it sounds clichéd, things tend to work out when they’re not your only focus. So while conventional dating may feel like the right path forward, it’s not the only way to meet a partner, says Hartstein. “A lot of relationships start out organically as friendships,” she says. “You can meet someone new any day and at any time. Commit to talking to people and being engaged in life as an alternative to traditional dating.” If you’re wanting a relationship, exploring new situations could help open you up to a whole new batch of potential partners.
If you’re feeling empowered to take your singlehood by storm, you can try Bumble’s Snooze Mode (your profile will be waiting if and when you’re ready to date). For now, embrace this time and enjoy YOU.