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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

How to be okay with being single

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCT chapter.

I hope that you didn’t open this article hoping for answers, because the truth is, I have no idea how to be totally okay with being single. I am a ‘relationship person’ (as I have been described) and also find myself in a society that really stresses the importance of having a romantic partner – so really, there is a lot of pressure to find a partner! I’m not usually single, and if I am, I usually get into another relationship as soon as possible. To be clear, I don’t think I’m participating in rebound-culture. I do make sure that I’m ‘over’ my previous relationship before jumping into another one, and I do genuinely like the people that I date. If I didn’t, what would be the point, right?

But I am now finding myself single after coming out of a long-term relationship, and I have absolutely no clue what to do with myself. So, this article is coming from a place of learning, on my part, how to be okay with yourself and how to be okay with being single after being a former-relationship-person.

1. Don’t download dating apps for validation from others

Sorry if you feel targeted by this one, it’s entirely directed at myself. Yeah, I’m not too proud of this one. If I’ve matched with you on Tinder, I’d advice you scroll past this one. No, seriously, please stop reading; this is embarrassing. Don’t judge me, if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve been in the same boat at some point. Or if not, feel free to laugh at my lack of self-esteem, that’s okay too.

Downloading an app like Tinder and creating your own profile is a wonderful way of convincing yourself that you’re ready to get into another relationship, although you might not actually be ready. When learning how to be okay with being single, I’ve found it profoundly unhelpful to sign up for dating apps. I genuinely swiped right on every profile just hoping that someone would ‘match’ with me. Did I want to talk with them? Not really. Did I plan on meeting up with anyone? Of course not. Did I just want to know that I was considered as desirable by others? Yes. Don’t judge me.

To be clear, whatever your intentions are for being on a dating app, even if it is just for validation, that is totally okay. , I was quite overwhelmed by these apps, and I didn’t enjoy using the app to cure my loneliness, because it didn’t work. Unfortunately, these sources of achieving validation aren’t cures to loneliness, although they might distract from your feelings for a while. It felt very depressing to me, and once I realised that these apps were just causing me pain, I deleted them very quickly. I also felt bad for the people who messaged me and wouldn’t get a message back. Sorry, all of you, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with you, it’s my fragile mental state and appalling sense of self-worth that was the problem.

2. Maybe steer clear of the romcoms…

We all love a good Romcom, you’re lying if you claim you haven’t enjoyed at least one Romantic Comedy movie in your life. Even the most hardcore Romcom-haters enjoyed Me Before You. So why am I trying to direct people away from this delightful genre exactly? Well, I think if you’re single, they can start to become a bit depressing to watch. The narrative almost always concludes with the idea that you need to be in a romantic relationship to reach your true potential, or to be truly happy. After a breakup it’s easy to fall down the Romcom hole, and you’re stuck watching ‘broken’, ‘incomplete’ or generally unhappy people find ‘true happiness’ and purpose in pursuing a romantic relationship with their one ‘true love’. In reality, I don’t believe we need another person in order to be happy, in fact that whole co-dependence thing between partners that Romcoms endorse is quite problematic…Just know that you don’t need a romantic relationship to be truly happy, and even if you don’t feel happy in the moment, it isn’t because single life is inherently bad.

In fact, maybe steer clear of some Disney movies as well…I know we all love a good Disney movie to make ourselves feel better after a difficult time, but maybe try pick a movie that doesn’t insinuate the fact that we need a Prince Charming to save us. That eliminates quite a few films…I apologise. Maybe stick to Frozen, where the ‘true love’ that Anna needed came from the love of her sister instead of her potential romantic partners.

Have I taken the fun out of watching Romcoms and Disney movies? Probably. But feel free to ignore my advice completely, it’s not like I’m a professional.

3. Keep yourself busy

There’s no time for self-pity or to feel the crippling loneliness of your condition if you keep constantly busy! I kid I kid, but really, keeping busy and picking up new hobbies can be a great distraction and a good step in your healing process. Catch up with those friends you haven’t seen in a while or start learning crochet because you’ve always wanted to and never had the time before! It’s the best time to pick up new hobbies to fill up your time. Just make sure that you’re focusing on yourself and prioritising your health, both mental and physical. Don’t repress your feelings into oblivion, make sure that you’re being kind to yourself and that you’re healing, and give yourself some time to reflect on how you’re doing. Matter of fact, take yourself out on dates in your newly found free time. You don’t need anyone else to buy you flowers, you can buy yourself flowers! Plus, this way you can ensure that they’re the flowers that you really want. So really if you think about it, it’s a win-win situation.

4. Understand that being lonely and being single aren’t the same

In the previous point I made jokes about repressing your crippling feelings of loneliness, however these are mostly humorous, and I think it’s important to remember that just because you are single, it doesn’t mean that you’re alone. After being in a relationship for so long, it can be easy to equate the loneliness of a breakup with the concept of singlehood in general. But being single shouldn’t be seen as being synonymous with being lonely. You don’t need to have a romantic partner to not be lonely. We have many relationships with everyone around us, such as our friends and our families who can make you feel less alone.

As explained by Elite Daily, “The truth is that there are plenty of people who love and care about you outside of your romantic partnerships (and most likely were there for you even before that person came into your life).” If you’re feeling lonely, it’s okay to reach out to these other support groups that you have in your life. They’re there to help you up when you’re down, and to remind you that you’re not alone and that you don’t have to feel isolated in your sadness.

A lot of this article is just me kidding around and adding in a few tips that I think might be helpful. But as an end note, I would just like to say, practice some self-love. In the wise words of Ru Paul, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the heck are you gonna love somebody else?” If you can love yourself and treat yourself with kindness, you’re all set my friend. You don’t need another person to help you feel complete. And if you’re still working on loving yourself like I am, surround yourself by the people who love you the most, like your friends and family, and bring some of that positivity into your life. If you’re feeling bad, just know that you’ll get better, and you won’t feel like this forever. Good luck reader, I wish you the best.

Film and Television Studies Honours student