There’s nothing quite like being single and looking, is there? It is one of the most frustrating situations a person can face. How many times do we want to lash out in anger when a person in a relationship tells us “it will all work out”? And we just want to scream, “No it won’t! Stop lying to me!”
One of two things tends to happen when we are single:1) The longer we are single, the more our self-worth and self-esteem decreases. We start thinking, “If it’s taking this long, then it must be me.” (which can lead a person to unhealthy relationship decision-making); 2) The longer we are single the more we become set in our ways. This can create an environment that makes it tougher to sustain relationships because we’ve become used to living for ourselves. Creating the space for another person can become more difficult in this situation.
On the surface it all sounds so simple — just go out and meet some people, pick one we like, and go for it. However, it’s just not normally this easy. Sure, meeting people is important, but also managing ourselves internally during this time is very important. How do we maintain our self-esteem? How do we maintain a sense of flexibility in our lives while we search? How do we get our family and friends to understand that just because they think we’ll be fine that it doesn’t feel that way to us?
The answer is, we have to do something that society can make us feel we’re not allowed to do: we must embrace being single.
“What?? I’m here looking for ways to meet someone and you’re telling me to embrace being single??”….Yes. It’s one of life’s true paradoxes. Embracing our singlehood in a healthy manner actually strengthens the environment for a positive intimate relationship. When we think about it, it’s really not easy to force ourselves to meet our future best friend. And one of the toughest issues when searching for a relationship is that we tend to be on our best behavior, rather than just being who we are. When embracing singlehood, people get to know us as us. What we tend to forget when our self-esteem is low is that our partner must not only pick us, we must also pick them.
It’s important to distinguish embracing singlehood from embracing isolation. We’re not seeking to embrace loneliness as much as we are looking to make the most of the opportunities that are in front of us: seeing friends, going to movies, going on hikes, going out to dinner, reading a book, etc. We need to learn about ourselves, understand our values and what motivates us in our lives, and allow others to visit our world while we also visit theirs. The hope is that in time someone will visit and want to stay, and that we will visit theirs and want to stay, too.
In addition, self-care is important. We may meet someone and want to stay in his/her world, but if we don’t take care of ourselves the feeling most likely won’t be mutual. Would you really want to go to Disney World if no one ever cleaned it or took care of it? Who wants to ride a ride covered in rust? For us, this isn’t only something like showering or doing our laundry (however, that’s also quite important), but this includes our emotional self-care. For example: if we have tendencies that we feel cause more trouble than good — getting easily irritated, angry, stressed, stubborn, etc., these are things we need to take a look at. Even ask yourself, “would I want to deal with these tendencies if I were my partner?” These are all things to look at when thinking of self-care.
It has been said that “choosing a relationship is choosing a set of issues,” and we all have our own issues, as do others. The idea isn’t to rid ourselves of issues or find a perfect person, but it’s to make our positive qualities shine and have our struggles (or “issues”) become a less prominent feature of who we are. By embracing our singlehood and taking care of ourselves, the hope is to make our world welcoming to ourselves, as well as to anyone who visits.