The Art of Being Single

Wait, what?

Talking about being single on a dating and relationship blog?

With people getting married later in life, half of marriages ending in divorce (and plenty of other relationships not working), and women living longer than men in average, most women end up spending many years of their lives being single. And men too.

Even if we'd rather be in a relationship, there is an art to living our single years gracefully and productively so that we feel content in the here and now of singledom and at the same time prepare ourselves adequately for a future happy and healthy relationship.

During my single years, I focused on articulating my life around the five points below to feel happy regardless of my relationship status. This focus resulted in great contentment while being single and it allowed me to bring a great foundation of happiness and health into my marriage.

1. Creating an excellent regimen of self care:

By now, you know that by self care I mean all the practices that build and nurture the four elements of our life force - Body, Mind, Heart and Spirit. Establishing and maintaining such regimen takes a lot of patience because it takes a few cycles of trials and errors and the building of discipline. It's hard to turn off electronics and go to bed early. It's hard to plan and cook meals for one person. It's hard to consistently engage in practices facilitating the processing of emotions. It's hard to exercise regularly. It's hard to find and commit to a spiritual practice that fits our belief system. Basically, it's hard to give up on immediate gratification for the sake of long-term wellbeing.

When we are single, we have more time to explore what self care means to us, to try and fail, to commit and fall off the wagon, until we find out which self care practices work for us and how to make our self care regimen evolve throughout all seasons of our life, so that it continues to support us as our circumstances change.

2. Nurturing long-lasting friendships:

Being part of great friendships is one of the most delicious aspects of life - single or coupled - but friendships are especially important when we are single because they allow us to share our joy with others, support one another, and look after ours and our friends' emotional wellbeing.

When we are single, we have more freedom to try new activities where we can meet new friends and we have more time and energy to nurture our friendships. It's a season of life to truly commit to our friendships and to choose to keep our commitment alive throughout our next relationship.

3. Improving our financial fitness:

Financial stability is essential to our wellbeing. It's stressful to worry about money, and it's not ideal to start a new relationship in financial distress. Getting our finances in great (or at least better) shape when single is a wise investment for your future self, single or partnered up.

When we are single, we have more freedom to decide where to spend less, how to increase income, how to deal with debt, and how to save more. Singledom is a great season of life to improve our financial fitness, so that we can bring financial stability into our next relationship.

4. Doing that special thing that we always have wanted to do:

It can be tempting to postpone doing that thing that we have always wanted to do until we get into a new relationship. Problem is, building a new relationship takes time and energy and requires making compromises with a new person. Who knows if we will have time and financial resources to invest in that thing that we have always wanted to do when we will be in that new relationship? Who knows if our new partner will be up to do it with us? What if children come along sooner than expected?

Being single allows us to plan and realize our most important project while we have the time and freedom to do so!

5. Cultivating independence in anticipation of future interdependence:

This one is more an ongoing reflection than a to-do item. It's about cultivating a level of independence that allows us to function well as a single person, but that is flexible enough to be turned into the interdependence that a future relationship will require.

  • How much of our needs can we fulfill by ourselves (with the support of family and friends)?
  • How much of our needs will stay unfulfilled until we are in an intimate relationship?
  • Which needs that we can fulfill ourselves will we be willing to allow another person to fulfill for us in a relationship?
  • Which needs will we be willing to fulfill for another person?

It's important to reflect on these questions for several reasons:

  • As a single individual desiring to be in a relationship, we must be able to take care of most of our needs (with the support of family and friends), while accepting that some will remain unfulfilled for a while.
  • Although we might be fiercely independent as a single person, our future relationship will require of us to become interdependent with our new partner. This means allowing another person to fulfill some needs that we are perfectly capable to fulfill ourselves while stepping up and fulfilling a part of our new partner's needs, even if the new partner is technically capable of fulfilling them.
  • Being too attached to our independence will make building a new relationship difficult since a happy and healthy relationship requires voluntarily relinquishing a bit of our independence. Conversely, expecting a new partner to fulfill all of our needs would make building a happy and healthy relationship equally challenging.

Cultivating a level of independence compatible with a future interdependence makes us functional as single individuals while allowing us to comfortably transition into a future happy and healthy coupled life.

Even if you don't rejoice in being single, you can choose to live your single years gracefully and productively, by creating and nurturing a foundation of happiness and health that will greatly benefit your singledom as well as your future relationship.