I am single and have to admit that, like many other singles, I have mixed emotions about it. Sometimes the freedom to make many choices without consulting with someone else is a compelling argument for singleness. At other times it would be nice to have a regular life partner to share laughter, sadness and success. I realize that my single status is not unique. More than one-half of Americans are now living single and alone, and the numbers are increasing. Young singles may be living alone with the expectation of eventual transition to marriage at some point. There are many single adults who are now divorced and raising children without a partner. Others have made the choice to be single and alone as a lifestyle. Some are managing single life alone but would prefer to be in a relationship or marriage.
There are many ways that singles manage the experience of being alone after a breakup or divorce. Some people quickly become uncomfortable with being alone and immediately find another partner. Others may be angry and bitter or discouraged after a difficult divorce and build emotional walls around themselves to keep from getting hurt again. In some instances singles fill their schedules with as many activities as possible to keep busy or bury themselves in their work.
Being single and alone can be an emotionally difficult experience for some and quite comfortable for others. When singles are unhappy living alone it feels as if everyone else is coupled - walking two-by-two through malls, going to movies or dining out. Many singles say that they feel awkward going to many places alone because there is societal pressure to be coupled in order to fit in. Many believe that the solution for loneliness is to find a relationship. But being lonely is not exclusive to single life. It is important to realize that people in relationships can become emotionally disconnected from their partner and feel lonely too. While it is certainly tempting to try to find another person to remedy feelings of loneliness, depression or anxiety finding someone a few months after a breakup limits the opportunity for learning from the experience.
It helps to adopt a more positive outlook about the advantages of being single. Singles have many more options because they often have more time and are able be more spontaneous and flexible than couples who must adjust to their partner’s habits, schedules, personalities and preferences. The ultimate goal for singles is to achieve some balance in life between work, recreation, people and being alone.
Some suggestions for living single and liking it are:
Adjust your attitude about yourself. Just because you are single does not mean that you are less attractive, interesting, funny or intelligent than people who are in relationships.
Page 2 of 2 - Face your fears. Find out what you are afraid of and conquer it head on.
Consider the many advantages of being single - more freedom, financial independence, and more chance to develop your own identity.
Form social networks of friends or connect with organizations that can provide some companionship and help if you need it.
Learn from the past but don’t get stuck there.
With a little creative thinking single people can learn to enjoy their single lifestyle and thrive.
David Gannon, Ph.D., Psychological and Family Consultants, Canton, Ohio.