"Why are you single?" "It's a shame you're single." Women who aren't in relationships get comments like these day in and day out. In reality, though, there are plenty of valid reasons to be single, and we owe nobody an explanation for our relationship status.
Many of us learn from the age when we start watching movies and television shows that the ideal life is lived in a relationship. All people, but women especially, are taught that a fulfilling lifetime ends after you have gotten married and had children. While the children part never appealed to me, I internalized this fantasy of love and marriage more than I even realized. I spent my late teens and early 20s constantly in and out of relationships that were totally wrong for me because, though I didn't see it at the time, I found any relationship at all preferably to being single.
Yet, when I looked back at those years, I realized the happiest periods occurred when I was single. It made sense: during those times, I had an active social life full of variety, the freedom to make spontaneous decisions, meet new people, and take every relationship wherever it naturally went, and time to focus on my work and passions. And recently, when I asked a mentor for advice on getting into a relationship, he said, "You're too devoted a girlfriend to do that and give your career the focus it needs right now." I think he was right. Obviously there's nothing wrong with having a relationship, and no, having a relationship and having a career isn't an either/or situation; sometimes, though, we've got bigger proverbial fish to fry, and what those fish are is totally up to you.
Here are some reasons I'm completely over apologizing for being single.
1. It's Better To Be Single Than Be With The Wrong Person
When you're in an unhealthy relationship, you're constantly worried about what your partner is thinking and where the relationship is going. This stress can feed into every area of your life. It's a thousand times better to be alone than to constantly deal with someone who makes you feel bad or a relationship that just doesn't feel right. You may not have someone to cuddle with while you watch Netflix, but you'll have the energy to enjoy the show.
2. Single People Have More Time For Their Friends
You can absolutely still make time for girls' nights when you're dating someone, but since a relationship typically takes up at least a few nights a week, something's got to give, and often, that thing ends up being the time you spend with your friends. When you're single, you can take more time to nurture your friendships, which can be just as fulfilling as a romantic relationship.
3. Being Single Lets You Focus On Work
I've noticed I'm far more motivated at work when I don't have a relationship to distract me. Since I don't have a built-in source of happiness, I have to make myself happy by pursuing opportunities that excite me. Especially if you're still building your career, now is the time to pour your all into it. Opportunities you pass up now due to lack of time or energy could affect your career down the road.
4. Refusing To Settle Now Frees You Up For The Right Person Later
You know what would be awful? If you actually met someone who was worth giving up your single life for, but you weren't able to date them because you were in a monogamous relationship with someone else. Even if you want to end up married eventually, jumping into the next relationship that satisfies your checklist could prevent you from exploring a different one that could be truly extraordinary. As the woman pictured above in Humans of Bombay wrote, you want to save yourself for someone who is "special enough."
5. Phases Of Singlehood Make You A Better Partner
We've all got baggage to work out, and relationships can distract us from doing that work. For example, if you're dealing with insecurities, your partner's admiration can act as a bandage that prevents you from addressing the roots of your self-doubt. Being single also gives you time to become more independent and self-sufficient so that you're less dependent on future partners. Creating a fulfilling single life gives you the foundation for a relationship that adds to you but does not complete you.
6. Being Single Doesn't Make You Less Happy
This should go without saying, but in case it doesn't, here's some science to prove it: A study published in Social Psychological & Personality Science found that people who like to avoid conflict (and who doesn't?) are just as happy single as they are in a relationship, probably since relationships can bring a lot of conflict with them. People less avoidant of conflict did rate themselves as less happy when they were single, but that doesn't mean they have to be. There are ways to find happiness outside of relationships, such as through family, friends, work, and solo adventures.
7. Dating Is Exhausting
Let's be real: More of us would probably be in relationships if the process of reaching that point were not so damn tiring. Between combing through endless profiles, keeping message threads going that usually die down, quelling pre-date nerves, sitting through bad dates, and getting hurt after good ones that don't go anywhere, modern dating takes a toll on you. We don't all have the time for that, and the prospect of a relationship isn't worth the sacrifice for everyone.
8. Doing Things Alone Is Really Fun
A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research recently showed that people had just as much fun visiting an art gallery alone as they did with other people — to which I say, "duh." anyone who has travelled, gone to a concert, gone on a walk, or even just watched movies alone (so, basically, everyone) knows you can get more out of activities that way. You meet more people when you're out in public by yourself, you have time to think, and you notice your surroundings more when you're not distracted by somebody talking to you. Being single isn't just acceptable; it's fun. Even if you want to get into a relationship eventually, you may later miss aspects of your single life, so you owe it to yourself now to at least enjoy it and definitely not apologize for it.