Leanna Stockard, MA, LMFT

Have you heard messages from your friends such as, “So, have you met anyone yet?” or “How is your dating life?” Have family functions become constant family members asking, “When are you going to get married? I want grandchildren!” As a therapist, I have heard several clients share that they have received these messages while they have been single. Additionally, I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Mastering the Art of Being Single” by Katie Tomaszewski. In the article, Tomaszewski writes of her own experience of being single after divorce. While their feelings about receiving those messages have varied, I recognized comparisons between what my clients have shared and what Tomaszewski experienced.

Societal Expectations

Tomaszewski shares how society immerses in the pressure of being coupled. She shares how you can see these messages with couple’s discounts, club memberships, or other privileges. Single people often internalize messages of being “miserable, lonely, or desperate” and believe that there is something wrong with them when they are single. Tomaszewski states that this is the most challenging around the age of 30, where single people are often surrounded around friends and family who are newly married or starting families, leaving the single party to feel left out.

Take a second to think about what you currently expect should happen while you’re single. Does your head go to: “go out with my friends”, “engulf myself with work” or “date as many people as possible?” In my experience as a therapist, many individuals have an idea of what life should look like while we are single, and a lot of that life sounds to me like a distraction from being by themselves. Tomaszewski shared something similar, stating, “I became desperate and depressed, looking for someone – anyone – to save me from being alone.” While distractions may be helpful in the moment, distraction does not help soothe the underlying feelings that you may be experiencing.

Can You Be Happy While You’re Single?

Whether you have a fear of being single, feel uncomfortable continuing your life without a partner, or had an expectation for yourself to be married with children by a certain age, being single may be challenging. There may have been times in which we have felt that we “need” a partner in order to feel fulfilled, and that does not need to be the case! Your happiness does not depend on external circumstances; it depends on you, and what you make of your situations.

Tomaszewski shares the ways in which she was able to create happiness for herself while she was single. She essentially recommends dating yourself; take yourself out to nice dinners, buy yourself birthday gifts, and spend quality time with yourself. Put the same amount of energy into yourself as you would put into your relationships. Surround yourself with other single people who are happy with being single, this can help challenge the societal expectations of being coupled that you may be facing. Tomaszewski reports that what she has been doing for herself helps her take care of her soul, as if she would take care of the relationship that she could be in.

Being single has its advantages. This is your time to be whoever you want to be, and do all the things that you want to do. You are living life 100% for yourself. If you are struggling with the single life, whether you are newly single, or have been single for a while, it may be helpful to connect with a therapist! Contact Symmetry Counseling today to get in contact with one of our talented clinicians.