Relationship Status: Happily Single
When people think of being single, the first stereotype that comes up is one of loneliness, sadness, and a desperate longing for companionship. In fact, sympathy for the plight of singles is now so widespread that it even has its own day. All of which is bizarre when you think about it? Plenty of people are in unhappy relationships or are unhappily married, but there is no Marriage Awareness Day.
The truth is that often society seems to place a greater value on relationships or the family unit. This is not to say that these are not worthy institutions, but some say that doing so tacitly lessens our value as individuals.
So whilst being all too well aware of the problems associated with modern loneliness, we want to take some time to examine the other side of singledom and the opportunities it presents:
Developing responsibility and resilience
There’s no two ways about it, life can be tough, and sometimes having a partner can help us through it. It’s always helpful to have a shoulder to cry on, either literally or figuratively. But being single offers you the opportunity to develop resilience and fortitude against the challenges that life throws your way.
That’s not to say that anyone is any the lesser for seeking support, but simply to point out what it can do for your personal growth. Imagine if, should you choose to get into a relationship again, how much stronger you will be for the experience of knowing that you can survive, if not thrive by yourself.
For example, rather than having to weigh up every purchase against the opinions or wellbeing of a partner, now every financial decision – great or small – is on you. That lack of a sounding board or safety net may seem scary, but the reality is that learning to keep your balance in an insecure world is one of the greatest skills you can have.
Developing a news skill
Even the best relationships can be hard work. They can take time and energy. Imagine having the time to take up that evening class, to learn an instrument or to volunteer in your local community. It offers a genuine opportunity to brush up on skills relevant to both inside and outside the workplace, meaning you can brush up your CV or find the next mountain to climb.
This is one thing that so often gets lost in the dialogue around loneliness. The extra time you have to yourself can either be a blessing or a curse, it just depends on how you choose to use it.
Develop and strengthen relationships with family and friends
Take the opportunity to make and maintain your friendships – old and new. Just because you are not romantically involved with someone right now doesn’t mean you don’t value the company of others. If anything it could mean the opposite. Family relationships are sometimes easy to ignore when you’re in a relationship, but they’re important, and all the more so when you need support.
Volunteering can be a great way to discover new interests whilst also expanding your social circle. It’s important to remember old friends as well. For all the pitfalls of social media, it can be invaluable for this. Don’t just ‘like’ the latest status update, send messages, call, reconnect.
The fact is that whilst healthy relationships are enabling rather than stifling, they also come with obligations. Being single makes you more flexible, and potentially more adaptable to large-scale changes.
For example: let’s say you used that extra time to learn a new skill and maybe that has blossomed into a whole new career path. You’ve been offered a dream job far away from home, perhaps even abroad. Something like this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Making major life changes like this becomes much simpler without having the obligations associated with a relationship.
Finally, aside from all the expectations that society puts on us, one thing remains above all else. Something that will be useful both within relationships and without. The most important thing you can do is learn to be comfortable in your own company because, simply put:
‘not having to answer to anyone else’ doesn’t mean you don’t have to answer to yourself.