Our attitude towards being single takes on many forms at various stages of our lives. There are phases where you just love it—the luxury of not having to answer to someone, the ease of argument-free nights out, and the freedom to spend an entire day (or weekend) on the couch, completely guilt-free. These phases usually happen when you are young or fresh out of a breakup.
But then there are the stages where you hate being single. You’re tired of the nights out (and lonely nights in), over the search, and maybe starting to slightly panic that you haven’t yet found The One. This is not a fun stage. It’s full of sorrowful looks and tough conversations at family gatherings and unwanted advice from almost anyone who notices you are without a ring. I know this because I’ve been there.
If you’re currently struggling with your single status, here are three steps to help change your mindset.
1. Take A Step Back
First, take a deep breath and let’s analyze why you are tired of being single. It is critical that you open your mind and be honest with yourself about this. What are you attaching to your single status? It is most likely either a meaning or a fear. You think it means you are unattractive, uninteresting, or unlovable. Or maybe it plays into a fear that you’ll still be single next year, in 10 years, or on your deathbed. There is a reason it is bothering you, and that reason comes down to how you feel about yourself or your life. Identify that reason.
Now, many of you will answer something along the lines of, “I want to get married and have children.” And I will argue that isn’t the reason you are unhappy being single; that is fueling a fear. Let’s really look at it—does the fact that you are single right now mean you won’t get married and have children? No. If you are still single tomorrow, does that mean you won’t get married and have children? No. If you are still single next week… you see my point. So often we use the present as proof that our feared future will come true, but that just doesn’t make sense. The fact that you are single right now predicts nothing about the future. It only describes the present.
It’s important to identify what you are attaching to being single that is making you uncomfortable. Once you know what it is, you can question it—ask if it is true. (Hint: the answer is “no.”) Your relationship status does not define any aspect of you or your life. However, how you feel about it provides all kinds of valuable insight.
If you don’t like being alone, that means you don’t like hanging out with yourself. Really think about that for a minute—you don’t like hanging out with yourself. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever be in. It sets the stage for every other relationship in your life. You have to first figure out why you don’t like being single in order to work through it.
Heads up, your answers won’t be pleasant. They almost always tie back to feelings of unworthiness, that you aren’t enough. Now, the good news is that isn’t true, but the bad news is the hardest person to convince it isn’t true is you.
So here comes the advice you’ve gotten a hundred times that’s likely going to result in an eye roll and heavy sigh. Stop focusing on finding The One. I know, I know, you’ve been there, done that. But here’s the thing—have you really done it? More often than not, when we attempt to listen to that advice, we start going to the gym more, reading more, getting together with friends, or however we define self-care. But why are you really doing all that? What do you want to happen? You are hoping that by not focusing on finding The One, he/she will then magically enter your life (cue some Romcom reference). So in reality, you have just found a backdoor way to remain focused on finding your someone, not focusing on yourself.
I mean you need to really focus on yourself with no hidden agenda that will result in finding your happily ever after with someone else. I mean finding your happily ever after with you. First, revisit how you spend your time. What are the things you enjoy doing but never make time to do? What have you always wanted to learn or try but haven’t yet? Are there big challenges—like running a marathon, writing a book, getting a degree, making a career change—that have always been in the back of your mind? Do them. Get back in touch with yourself, who you are at your core and what you enjoy doing. And if you catch yourself thinking, “I’ll never meet anyone doing that,” let that thought go and go do whatever you want to do. Do things for YOU.
Next, go internal. Break all the attachments you have to being single, including the fear that doing all of the above is taking precious time away from dating. Question your thoughts and assumptions until you can remove all the meaning and fear you have surrounding your relationship status. Don’t just make peace with being alone like you’d be settling; find a way to know you would have a happily ever after with yourself. Find a way to know that you are enough. That is true self-love.
Maybe that means therapy or maybe it means a lot of time spent just thinking. Maybe it means taking a break from dating and maybe you can do both at the same time. It looks different for everyone and it’s your call. Do whatever works for you.
3. Reframe Dating
Once you are ready to re-enter the dating world, look at your attitude towards dating in general. While in a tired-of-being-single phase, you can easily find yourself hoping every day is the day you meet him/her, and that every date might be your last first date. That is A LOT of pressure to put on any given day and any given date. It causes a rollercoaster of emotions that only feeds into the panic and fear you are trying to remove.
There is a healthier way to approach dating that won’t throw your psyche for such a loop. Think of dating as expanding your network. You are simply meeting someone new. Yes, maybe they will end up being The One. But they also might end up being a great business contact or know someone who could help you get your dream job or be your connection to an incredible new group of friends. There is a lot any given person has to offer. Stop approaching the situation like there is one thing and one thing only that matters to you. Instead, get curious about who they are and open your mind to all the ways your lives could intersect.
Ultimately, life is about connection, but so often we don’t truly connect because we don’t try to really see each other, nor do we really reveal ourselves. Practice actually wanting to know the person sitting across from you and share who you are without it being filtered by hidden hopes they will like you or your aspirations for life will perfectly align. Remember, you are enough. You don’t need this date to be the beginning of forever. This date is simply an opportunity to share and connect with another person, and that is always time well spent.