Single. In our society, unfortunately, to be single is equated with being miserable, being less, being incomplete. We seek our “other half”. There are extraordinary, under-valued and unexplored benefits to being single. Let’s look beyond the slightly patronising: “you won’t be single forever” or “you have to love yourself to find love” (which you do, but that is not to say that a relationship is your reward for patiently waiting). We need to discuss that sometimes it is worse to be in a relationship than single. Sometimes we are striving for something which would actually have a negative impact on our lives. All of this is understandable – there are societal pressures which are perpetuated in the media from childhood in fairy tales, and sometimes by our own family’s expectations. I do not mean to appear overly critical about the act of loving another person, or devalue the experience of being in a relationship, or indeed seem to cynically imply that love only exists in fairy tales. I do not believe or feel any of those things. I do, however, think that there are enormous, glorious, undiscussed benefits to being single. I do not believe that my own self-love would have been discoverable if I was in a relationship. This will not be true for everyone. For me personally, I accessed self-love when I realised the exhaustingly overwhelming capacity I had to love someone else. That this person could no longer be the receptor of this love meant it was simply floating out into the abyss – of no use to anyone. I then realised that I could try to turn that love toward myself: date myself.
This may not translate to everyone. For me, I was able to be far kinder to myself, and treat myself as a loved-one, not an enemy. For some, this may be a far-off idea, something which feels extremely inaccessible at the moment. However, if you are single, I cannot recommend enough taking a moment to consider your status as a possibility – an incredible possibility to learn more about yourself and feel that knowledge (perhaps in time even that self-love) seep into every area of your life. For some people being in relationships is entirely encompassing. Some people may be aware of that in themselves. Other people may not realise the degree to which being in a relationship is affecting them. Whenever you experience something – good, bad, sad, funny, scary, interesting – is your first thought discussing it with your significant other? If so, I would ask: are you processing your life experiences yourself or do all of your experiences go through the lens of another person? The answer may be “yes, I do process my life experiences all on my own as a matter of fact!” if you are in a relationship, in which case that is wonderful – keep doing that! My worry is that sometimes I notice in people that I love that they cannot see how dependant they are upon another person. Sometimes dependence can be so muddled and tangled up with love that people can behave badly, people can be unhappy, trying to keep hold of love, unaware that they are losing themselves in the process.
If you are single you have the incredible opportunity to receive everything that happens to you, understand it, form your own opinions on it, and explore your own mind. You have the opportunity to expand who you are as you realise how much you are able to see, and feel, and discover on your own. I truly believe that being single at some point in your life will make you stronger. Being able to be alone and being able to understand your own mind is infinitely valuable: you will be able to offer so much to the world if you give yourself the chance to know yourself. There is nothing wrong with being in a relationship. It can be a beautiful addition to anyone’s life. But it should be that: an addition, nor a solution or a task to be achieved. You do not need another half. You are not a half. You are a whole and you deserve to be treated as one, by yourself and by others. So, if you are single, you should consider it a beautiful blessing; a wonderful opportunity to learn more about who you are, without the tinting of anyone else.
If you ever need a little reassurance, check out my Self-love Poetry insta - @drawn_out_words