Hi everyone, I’m Morag, I’m 24 and I’m currently single and it’s one of my biggest insecurities. I have been in a couple of long term relationships, the last of which ended a bit messily. So I am writing this because I know many other people have mixed feelings about being single and I want you to know you aren’t alone. Perhaps more importantly though being single doesn’t make you less worthy and being in a relationship doesn’t automatically make you happy. In fact being single can have a lot of positives to it. So here are my thoughts and advice as well as quotes from others about being single. This isn’t going to be a post about everything being perfect. I want others to feel less alone in their struggles as well as living the life you deserve.
This is a post all about being single in your 20s and beyond. It’s not an advice guide or a story about me, although there are elements of that, it’s more of a discussion. I’ll consider how being single can make you feel and how to manage negative emotions, as well as addressing the positives. There be some talk about my own life experiences and some input from other single people. I have chosen to keep them anonymous and just refer to them by a letter.
But most importantly though when you get to the end of this post I want you to feel empowered regardless of whether you are in a relationship or not. I hope you’ll take on some of the advice and words to help you take pride in what you have achieved in your life. You don’t need a partner to be happy.
I have wondered about writing a post like this for a while but something happened that inspired me into account. But the trigger for wanting to write this blog post one of my best friends, told me she is moving in with her boyfriend. I wanted to be happy for her, I was happy for her…mostly… But something was just eating at me and pulling apart my self esteem. Almost all my close friends are in relationships now and I feel a bit left behind. I don’t even think I want a relationship just now and I know my friends being in relationships doesn’t change anything for me but I can’t help it.
I can really struggle with intrusive thoughts and those thoughts are so good at playing on your insecurities. Being single can sometimes give strength to those intrusive thoughts and impact my mental health. My mind starts to tell me I am useless. But I am not useless and neither is anyone reading this. Especially not just because you are single. Nope. So here is a list of my thoughts, feelings, advice and practical approaches to finding peace with being single, especially in your 20s and 30s. Because you are not worth any less than someone in a relationship. I will intersperse my thoughts with quotes from other strong and independent, people from my amazing internet family about their experiences of being single. So in reading this post I hope anyone who has ever felt alone, felt a failure, felt uncertain, can draw strength from the words here from me and others. Because you are a wonderful person who is not defined by any one thing.
1) Talk to your friends about your worries about them being in a relationship. Not in a you should break up way, but rather so they understand how important your time together is. Then you can both make extra sure to prioritise that time. If your friend is aware you are feeling slightly insecure about things then they’ll understand why if you go through a phase of being more distant or snappy. But remember we all have room for more than one person in our lives. I know that when I have been in relationships I didn’t immediately dump all of my friends.
2) Try not to base your feelings off of comparing yourself to people you know. For example I find myself counting the number of my friends who are single, live at home etc. That can be helpful to remind you that you aren’t alone. However if something changes for one of those friends and your list gets smaller then that can bring back that panic and feeling of failure even more strongly than before.
S says… “I enjoyed being single, eating what I wanted, going wherever I wanted. No comprise was great! I did often feel lonely though, especially when other people would talk about plans with partners.”
3) Think about all the achievements you have reached in your life that have nothing to do with having a partner or other half. Rekindle a pride and confidence in yourself. Being single doesn’t prevent you from achieving anything.
4) Think about the advantages of being single. For example it can give you more freedom to follow your goals as you aren’t tied down. I can think about where I would like to live I don’t have to consult anyone, I can truly do what is best for me. Same goes for travelling. I adore solo travel and have done a couple of big solo travel trips around South East Asia. I didn’t need to feel bad for leaving someone behind and I didn’t need to fit my plans around others. I was able to fully immerse myself in the adventure.
R says… “I’ve been single for 4 years. I like the freedom that comes with it, but I do miss having someone there to support and care about. Whilst I do want a relationship, I’m not willing to just rush into one. Seeing people my age getting married and having kids, also knowing my mum desperately wants me to have a boyfriend, feels like a lot of pressure. My best advice is not to rush into another relationship. I’ve had amazing adventures to over 29 countries because I never felt pressure to wait for someone else. I gained a lot of self confidence through being single.”
5) Why do you wish to be in a relationship? I think for me it’s not necessarily that I want to be in a relationship just now, I probably don’t actually, but it plays on my insecurities of not being good enough; of being a failure; of having bag body image; of being another reminder of what I have lost since being ill. If I sit down and think about why I feel sad then I can challenge those emotions in a much more focussed and effective way.
6) The love you have for yourself is more important that the love of anyone else. It sounds so cheesy
7) Screw society’s expectations! This is your life don’t spent it trying to fit into someone else’s view of success. Don’t pressure yourself to achieve expected milestones. There are almost unlimited routes you can take and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. When the voice in my head tells me I am failing I try to say back ‘failing at what’? Because being single is not a failure. As we have discussed already it can actually be a gift.
L says… “I used to be really self-conscious about being single, like I wasn’t worth anything if I didn’t have a partner who loved me. Yet I found that I was unhappy in most of my romantic relationships. I generally feel freer when I’m single, and there’s a whole community of single but amazing people out there: take Leo DiCaprio, Mindy Kaling, January Jones. When all’s said and done, I’ve really enjoyed my life without an SO and that’s how I’m going to keep living. A partner cannot make me complete. That’s not to say I’m closed off to a relationship whenever I meet the right person, but I’m sincerely happy to be on my own.”
8) Whatever you feel is valid. We are always told that envy and jealously are bad and we should never feel that way. But I have found thinking like that just makes me feel doubly bad, I have the original emotion and then my judgement of it. Feeling jealous is totally normal and not something to be ashamed of. Let yourself feel and use the tools mentioned earlier. Don’t loose yourself in a mind thought battle.
9) Think about what you would say to a friend who is upset about being single. I know when I have been in relationships it never caused me to think negatively about any of my single friends. A relationship truly does not dictate your worth. Yes of course many people will go on to find relationships but that isn’t essential to find self worth. Write down what you would say to a friend feeling how you feel and then say that advice to yourself.
10) Being in a relationship does not make you happy. It isn’t a ticket to good quality of life. Your relationship status is such a tiny part of your life. I can think of several couples who are deeply unhappy. You can find happiness and work on yourself as you are now. Your life has purpose and meaning.
K says…“After spending much of my high school and early 20s falling in and out of relationships, I found that I quite enjoyed my own company and independence. My schedule, my habits, my way of stacking mugs in the cupboard are all my own and rarely interfered with. However, as I’m settling into my 30s, I find myself less certain about sticking it out on my own. As my best friends become wives and mothers, the support circle of strong single women is diminishing. I’m not entirely convinced that marriage is right for me, but I do think it would be nice to have someone to share dinner or watch netflix with. I’m happy in myself, and sometimes quite happy to be single, but there are times where I wonder what single life will look like in years to come. I’m not sure which I’d regret more: getting married or staying single.”
11) You don’t have to be lonely because you are single, in fact lots of people who are single have thriving social lives and great connections. Surround yourself with loving and caring people. Go on friendship dates, have those deep conversations, go on group holidays, exchange cards and gifts. You have people who care about you and want to spend time with you. Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t. I love having photos and memory items like train tickets around my room to remind me of good times.
12) Find something that gives you purpose and makes you focus on the outside world not just yourself. It is so easy to become very insular and self critical. I have found volunteering for a local homeless charity really helpful for me. It reminds me that I can make a difference to other people’s lives no matter my relationship status. I enjoy meeting new people from a wide range of backgrounds. Plus I guess as cheesy as it sounds it does make me appreciate what I have in life.
B says…“Single can be a good thing, unless all your friends have a guy that is! Good things about being single is you get a double bed to yourself and feel free to be you, no one waiting around! Be proud to be single, someone will come along! Go on dates and experience it, you never know it might be fate!”
12) Being single now doesn’t mean you’ll be single forever. Hopefully we all have years ahead of us and in that time we might meet someone or maybe we won’t. But don’t give up on yourself.
Okay so that’s the end of my thoughts and tips about being single. I hope some of them were helpful and reassuring. Being single is not a failing and living your whole life as a single person will not mean your existence has been less meaningful or fulfilling.
Part of the reason I wanted to write this post was because I felt quite alone in my friendship group being single. I worries about being the odd one out and that others would judge me as I was judging me. Hopefully what I have written so far will be reassuring you that none of that is the case. Putting together this post and talking to other single people has helped me feel less alone and so much more confident. I hope it can do the same for you. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments about being single, finding relationships and gaining confidence in yourself.
We are deserve to feel content in our own lives.