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Dating Yourself: the Benefits of Taking Time to Be Single

Being single is often looked at as a problem to be fixed. It has a negative connotation and is referred to as “being alone”. When you tell people you’re not in a relationship they automatically start listing off their single friends they could set you up with, or tell you “things will get better”. It is assumed that if you’re single, you must not be happy. And maybe you’re not.

Being single can be hard- there’s no one to rub your back when you get home from a long day, no cuddles during the night, and no one to take when you’re offered a plus one to a party. Plus there’s relationship propaganda like Valentine’s Day, romantic comedies and your own married/engaged/taken friends that may make you feel like you’re missing out on something.

I say, it’s time to get a foam roller, enjoy the fact that you can sleep better without a sweaty, snoring or covers-hogging person next to you, and take a friend as your plus one to the party or rock it solo. You can learn to enjoy your time being single, and will even benefit from the experience. Here’s how:

  1. Prioritize yourself. The truth is, when you’re in a relationship sometimes you have to compromise your wants and needs to fit with those of your partner. When you’re single, that’s not something you have to worry about. Pretend that you are dating yourself- make YOU your priority. You want to order in some pork-fried rice or wake up at 8 am on a Saturday to go running? You totally can and don’t have to worry about a partner who’s a vegetarian or who likes to sleep in on the weekends. Do what makes you feel comfortable and happy. Being single is kind of like a free pass to be selfish!
  2. Spend time with friends and family. Being single does not mean you are alone. Most likely there are plenty of people in your life that are ready and willing to spend time with you that you just haven’t made the effort to connect with, maybe because you were enveloped in your last relationship or wallowing in self-pity. Make a list of everyone you know with whom you could see yourself hanging out, from friends to coworkers or even that guy at the gym who sometimes spots you. Then invite them to do something.
  3. Spend time with yourself. The social media culture can make us feel like if we don’t have plans on a Friday night or spend all our free time with others, we must be lame. Don’t buy into that- having alone time is valuable for developing a good relationship with yourself. Have a me-date that involves cooking your favorite food, relaxing with your favorite show, and of course wearing your ugliest yet most comfy sweatpants.
  4. Travel. When you’re single and don’t have kids, it’s easy to pick up and travel whenever you have the money and can get the time off. You don’t have to coordinate schedules with another person or worry about having to visit their family or going where they want. You can take that trip to Vegas for your friend’s bachelorette party without having to worry about what your partner will think, and won’t have to call them every night to assure them you haven’t cheated.
  5. Work on self-improvement. When in a relationship it is easy to lose perspective of who you are as a person on your own. Being single helps you strip away all the problems that might be more the other person than you, and really focus on the stuff that is yours. You have more time to prioritize and spend time with yourself- might as well use it to better yourself too. Read a spiritual or self-help book, go to therapy, or take an “Eat, Pray, Love” trip.
  6. Be brave. It can feel daunting and weird to not rely on the crutch of having a significant other, but it can also be liberating. Go out and do things on your own, like lunching by yourself or joining a book club. Pursue your hobbies, such as joining a running group and signing up for a 10k. Try new things that may be out of your comfort zone but that you’ve always wanted to try, like skydiving or getting a tattoo. When there is no one to ask their opinion, you have to rely on your own judgment- and that is empowering.
  7. Don’t settle. If you are okay and happy being single, you are less likely to settle for a person or relationship that isn’t great for you. Don’t just go out with the next person who asks you on a date, or get into a relationship with someone with whom you know it won’t work just because you don’t want to be “alone”. When you learn to appreciate yourself, value your alone time and can do things on your own with pleasure, inviting someone into your life to share this with you will be that much more special. You won’t need them- you will want them.

Whether you are a serial dater, chronically single or anywhere in between, taking the time to appreciate your relationship with yourself is an endeavor that can benefit your wellbeing. As Orson Welles said, “We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.” However, using these tips can help you recognize that you are not alone- you have you.

Author: Grace Norberg, AMFT

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