The reality is that whether we're absentmindedly scrolling through our Instagram feed or Facebook or we're out with our friends, someone else will ALWAYS be in a relationship. And the other part of that reality is that you might not be. You fall into the single category, which also means you may very likely be on a minimum of three dating apps just to avoid this "harsh" reality. My intention is not to sound insensitive; I just want to reframe what it could actually mean to be single. And how this has historically been receiving a bad reputation, or has developed into being an unwanted experience, when it otherwise could mean something completely positive for the way we continue on in our dating or non-dating lives.
I have heard countless times from countless people that they wholeheartedly plan on being alone forever simply because they are alone right NOW. No, I am not attempting to minimize the years that you may have been single as a result of bad break-ups. I'm not trying to minimize the times you've gone out with friends, only to discover that you're going home to a sub-par late night taco from Taco Bell (that you are surely to regret the next day) while your friends return back to their significant others, or venture off with the guy they've been eye-fucking across the bar all night. I get it; this isn't the most enjoyable experience. However, how much of this experience is negative solely because of the messages we get from society about being single?
Yes, shitty date after shitty date can become exhausting. No one wants to sit through another failed attempt at finding a connection while mentally preparing and planning on getting back on a dating app the second you get home to try again the next night. And maybe this is a problem in itself: forcing or creating a connection when there really is not meant to be one. The right relationship will not require so much effort and so much work. It's OKAY that things didn't work out with your date or in your relationship. I've heard someone once say something along the lines of, "I go into every date thinking that he will be the one that I end up with." 1) That sounds like a shit ton of pressure for both you AND your date, and 2) Think about what this automatically sets you up for feeling if the date DOESN'T go well. Feeling like not only the date failed, but that you failed.
Are timelines realistic?
To avoid being hypocritical, let me admit that I was once the queen at creating timelines. And according to that timeline of mine, I should have been married and been on my merry way to motherhood. The reality is: I use a garbage can as a hamper because I'm too lazy to go out and buy a new one, and I set off my fire alarm weekly from burning my french toast. Yes, of course I want to get married still some day! However, a timeline won't do anything positive in helping me get there. When we hear ourselves or our friends say that we MUST be in a relationship in order to "stay on track and be married before 30" let's take a step back and think about what this is actually doing for us right NOW. Essentially, forward-thinking or future-planning only takes away from enjoying anything we have in the present (which very well may be an individual we could potentially have something with, but are blinding ourselves from seeing). If somewhere along our teen and young adult years we have consciously or subconsciously created these timelines and these rules for ourselves, then we most certainly have the power to change and re-create them.
Every relationship has a purpose
The mindset around break-ups is usually negative and depressing (and followed-up with a justifiable excuse to order any and all fast food for the next week straight to the couch that you haven't moved from; no, I don't speak from experience for this one. But, I like to imagine in some movie-esque like way that this is actually what happens). So, you may say you hate being single for whatever reason. Simply put: ya might be single for just a bit longer, but does dwelling on this (temporary) fact really change anything? Rather than sitting in a pool of self-pity, use the single life as a way to look at what did work in your past relationships, or past dates, versus what didn't work. What usually happens when we move on from one relationship to the next is that our next date is eerily similar to our recently "failed" relationship. And this isn't a coincidence; we tend to fall back into relationship patterns that feel familiar and that we've become comfortable with. Being single allows you to not only take a break from this, but to actually discover what you want your next relationship to look like.
You're not actually alone
When did spending a night alone at home become such a frowned upon choice? The word choice is important here: to actually CHOOSE to be alone. Sure, in the past I've definitely made plans for dates that (in all honesty) felt like a waste of my time and their time. So why did I go in the first place? To avoid being alone by myself. Because of course spending a few hours drinking a few beers and having a few semi-good conversations was surely more worth my time than figuring out what I liked to do apart from dating (you sense my sarcasm, right?) I used to spend so much time depending on a relationship to fulfill some "void" in my life at the time, which only left me unable and unwilling to create a sense of fulfillment on my own. At the end of the day, a relationship can only mask what's actually going on or what you're actually experiencing for so long.
Your relationship is of course meant to be a big part of your life; however, this does NOT mean it is supposed to constitute and define your whole life.