“If you can’t be happy being single, you’ll never be happy in a relationship.”
I believe in sayings. I believe in clichés. ’Cause for an idea to attain cliché status, it has to be used gazillions of times, by gazillions of people, over and over through the ages, and that rarely happens for an idea that hasn’t passed the test of reality.
That one at the beginning is an exception though.
Yes. Unfortunately for us, that one is a commonly held misconception. Humans are social animals. Humans are programmed by Nature to be unhappy if they’re alone for a long time. There’s a reason why the concepts of family and social groups started taking shape, even among the Neanderthals. And I don’t believe in going against Nature.
Why am I writing this article then – if being single is really as bad as it’s made out to be?
Because humans are animals, but that’s not all that they are.
Our animal instincts push to us to crave mates. But we also live in a highly evolved human society which – fortunately – offers singlehood its own joys and that’s what today’s post is all about.
#1. Be conscious of the gifts of being single
Have you ever spent a Saturday sleeping all day, waking up only to gulp down pizza pieces before you dived inside the sheets again? Or a night devouring the latest book by your favourite author till you could see the first rays of Sun?
You wouldn’t have any more of those days when you’re married.
Savour every moment of singlehood while you have it. One of the best aspects of being single is freedom. Be aware that you won’t have as much of it when you’re with someone. Make sure you’ve utilized every last bit of it before that happens.
#2. Self-sufficiency is the best form of freedom
I recently read a book by true crime writer Ann Rule where she describes her feelings a few years after a divorce, “All of it was unreal. Only a few years before, I had been … a typical housewife, a Brownie leader. Now, I was off to Hollywood to write a movie, with the FBI waiting for me.”
While the instance here is a bit extreme for most of us, the truth is that being single forces us to do things we never thought we could do on our own. This is true especially for single girls. From fixing a bug in your laptop to taking a biking trip to the outskirts with friends – use your single-dom to develop capabilities girls with boyfriends/husbands would never know. This way even when you finally find your Prince Charming you won’t need to be overly dependent on him – something most men despise.
#3. Couple-dom isn’t all that it’s made out to be
Let me take a leaf out of French novelist Marcel Pagnol’s book.
“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the unknown better than it would be and the known worse than it is.”
Stop having those starry-eyed daydreams about the ineffable virtues of couple-dom. They don’t exist.
Being in a relationship/marriage is not about:
- An undefined fantasy called “true love”
(Those taken together make maybe 0.5 % of it).
Humans crave companionship and that’s what a relationship is all about – having someone to share your worries, sorrows, dreams, joys, anguishes.
It’s also about sharing responsibilities (dividing up family finances in case of marriage).
It’s also about sharing tastes (watching movies you don’t like).
It’s also about compromising (moving states to stay close to them).
Next time you feel all romantic about having someone in your life, order yourself to remember these aspects too. ;)
#4. Watch who you hang out with
Stay away from people who might make you feel bad about your state of being single. Beware of those well-meaning “aunties” worried about your marriage-worthy age or snooty friends who presume to pity you for your singlehood.
Our society views being single as generally regrettable, and there will never be a dearth of people trying to remind you just how much. Don’t let yourself be influenced by their worldviews. It may not always be possible to avoid such conversations entirely. If you find yourself having one, politely but firmly let the other person know that you’ve decided to remain single for some time now (even if this is not true) to focus better on work, extra-curricular interests etc.
It’s all too easy to fall into the ocean of self-pity if you let yourself, and letting them pity you is the first step in that wrong direction.
#5. Being single is an opportunity to invest in yourself
Your future partner is going to be a very important part of your life, but they’re not going to be your life. While they’re away, invest in developing the other important aspects of it. Another great thing that comes free with being single, besides freedom, is time for yourself – like you’ll never have once you’re hitched. The best thing you can do with your single-time is to use it. Make a list of all the things you want to do and achieve in your life – reach specific career goals, travel to XYZ places, read certain books, learn French – write it all down. Use all the time you have to improve yourself – making yourself better placed for achieving these goals. Once you start doing it you’ll realize that the most fulfilling existence you can possibly have is one dedicated to enriching yourself, one that leaves you no time, energy or reason for self-pity.
#6. Being single doesn’t equal desperation
I know you’ll yawn when I repeat the following cliché:
“You can’t find love. Love finds you.”
But like I said, cliché’s are cliché’s because they’re usually true.
The worst way to waste being single is to desperately chase couple-hood. It’s like ignoring the magnificent starry night sky in your desperation for daylight. Besides coming across as emotionally needy is a major turn off for most people.
#7. Take a mature approach towards future relationships
Instead of chasing and waiting for love, spend this time trying to understand your own needs from a relationship. Believe me, it’s not easy at all.
Observe couples you know. Talk to non-single friends about their relationships. Combine all that you learn with your experiences from past relationships, your future plans, parental advice – everything that you would take into consideration while choosing a potential mate. Then make a list of traits you want in your partner. Against each desirable trait, note why you want it in him/her.
Have you noticed that I haven’t used the phrase “ideal partner” while talking about your list of desirable qualities? That’s because no such thing exists. Take it from me – one person can’t have the looks of Brad Pitt, the brains of Einstein and the wealth of Bill Gates all at the same time – your likely dream combination (replace that with the looks of Bipasha Basu and the culinary skills of your mother if you’re a guy). ;)
If you spend your single years creating a mental picture of an ideal partner you’ll either remain single for the rest of your life or set yourself up for a disastrous disappointment after you’ve finally fallen in love and the initial heady days are past.
No. When I say make a list, I’m not even thinking about the “nice to have” criteria, but the must have ones.
Are you a free-spirited open individual? Chances are you won’t get along well with a conservative partner, no matter how crazily you might fall for them in the future. Put that down in your list.
Do you believe in a “your money is my money and vice versa” approach, or you like your financial privacy and freedom? Observe, decide and freeze it.
Are you OK with living with in-laws (if you’re an Indian girl, that is)? Whatever the answer, make up your mind now and make sure to take it into account when the marriage discussions finally start.
What are your own unique/quirky/crazy ways of enjoying the state of being single? Let us know by leaving a comment.