If you’re feeling lonely this Valentine’s Day season… you’re not alone. Studies show that “the rate of single people… is constantly increasing. In the United States, 50.2% of the adult population – 124.6 million people – were single in August 2014” (Slonim, Gur-yaish, & Katz, 2015). While the causes of single-ness are vast and varied there are valuable lessons to be learned during periods of singleness. Whether you’re currently in the search for a relationship or not, these lessons you learn while you’re single will make you a better partner when you decide to jump back into the dating game.
Your happiness comes first
When you begin a new relationship, it’s easy to get lost in the butterflies and think that being in a relationship will make you happy. This isn’t always the case. “’Beginning a relationship improves self-esteem if and only if the relationship is well-functioning, stable and holds at least for a certain period (in the present research … one year or longer).’ People who started new romantic relationships that failed to last a year ended up with lower self-esteem than the people who stayed single” (DePaulo, 2018).
It’s also easy to lose track of yourself when you’re in a committed relationship. When you’re single, especially after a failed relationship attempt, you learn to put yourself first and to value what makes you happy instead of what you think will make your partner happy.
Financial stability and economic freedom
There was a time when women found themselves in less-than-ideal relationships because they didn’t have the economic autonomy to live on their own. That’s not the case today. “Economic and social transformations of the 20th century, alongside political movements that challenge traditional sexual and domestic relations, have contributed to changes in the status of women and provided both the material means and a cultural context in which choosing singleness is, for some women, a possibility” (Simpson & Simpson, 2011). Not only is singleness a possibility – it’s a great opportunity build up your savings, splurge on nice things, go on trips or subscribe to memberships you wouldn’t necessarily have the freedom to do in a committed relationship. Use this time to develop a budget and simply learn how to manage your money better and in the way that you want to.
You learn to build relationships
It seems counterintuitive that being single actually helps you nurture your relationships. While you may not be in a committed, romantic relationship, studies show that “[compared] to married people, single people are more likely to stay in touch with their friends, relatives and neighbors, and to exchange help with them” (DePaulo, 2017). They also suggest that the level of relationship satisfaction a person has when married (and presumably in a committed relationship) mimics what it was before marriage. Therefore, the better you are at building and nurturing relationships while you are single, the more satisfied you will be when you are in an actual relationship.
You develop your own interests
Whether that’s school, a career or a nonprofit – pursue the things you are passionate about! Chances are if you are looking to make a romantic connection, going out and doing those things you care about will put you on the path of those who have similar interests. Instead of chasing what you think someone else wants, be authentic and the right people will enter your life. As you build your life experiences you will develop a deeper sense of self and a greater depth of character. When you’re single you learn that the more you nurture your own interests, the more you have to offer to those around you.
DePaulo, B. (2017, November 1). Happy, Healthy, and Single. Alive: Canada’s Natural Health & Wellness Magazine, 45-49.
DePaulo, B. (2018, January 05). There’s Never Been a Better Time to be Single. Retrieved February 2018, from cnn.com: https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/05/health/single-people-partner/index.html
Simpson, R., & Simpson. (2011). Singletons/Single by choice. In M. Stange, & C. Oyster, The multimedia encyclopedia of women in today’s world. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/sagewtw/singletons_single_by_choice/0?institutionId=577
Slonim, G., Gur-yaish, N., & Katz, R. (2015, January 01). BY CHOICE OR BY CIRCUMSTANCE?: STEREOTYPES OF AND FEELINGS ABOUT SINGLE PEOPLE. Studia Psychologica, 57(1), 35-48.