Some people are cut out for relationships; others are happier single. But how can you know for sure if you're meant to stay single? There are some obvious signs — for example, if you're in a relationship, but you'd really rather kick it alone or with your girlfriends than hang with your partner, this could be a red flag. Then again, that could just mean that you're in the wrong relationship, or that you're more of a loner but you still like to have someone to snuggle with at night. Or even that you're not cut out for a relationship at this very moment, but you still are the settling-down type, and will be ready for that sooner or later.
I asked 15 psychologists, dating experts, relationship coaches and the like to tell me how to know, for good and for all, if you're the type who is meant to be single in the long run or not. How can you tell? What are the signs? What are the types of personalities that are just better suited for going it alone? There is no one particular formula, but there are plenty of telltale signs. Here is what they think about the matter.
1. You Like Things A Certain Way
Maybe you go on date after date, only to roll your eyes with your girlfriends later about how stupid, vapid, or otherwise annoying these people were. "You're meant to stay single if you believe you're too good for a partner," certified relationship coach Rosalind Sedacca tells Bustle. If you have the attitude that no one is really up to your standards and there's no one worth sharing your valuable time with, you might be happier alone.
Those who are best single feel that they are the priority in their life and will resent accommodating someone else, Sedacca says. "You're happiest when you're in charge, doing what you want and not being responsible to anyone else." Don't worry — if this is the case, stay single, she says. "It's what you do best!"
2. You Want To Do You 24/7
"I think that some people are meant to be single," psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. "They are confident, they love their lives, they love the ability to have no deep-rooted responsibilities that would keep them from doing things at the drop of a hat." If this describes you, put your hands up (and do the single ladies dance, but without the ring part).
"[Women who are meant to stay single] do not feel like they are missing out on something — in fact, they often think everyone else is," Martinez says. "They enjoy the experience of dating varied people, and to exploring life's many adventures. They are content with who they are, and how they are." So feel free to swipe happily on Tinder, and don't worry if you're not interested in any long-term relationships.
3. You're Happy
There is only one way to predict if you are meant to be single, life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle: "If you are happy being single." If that's the case, and you don't feel like being with anyone, then you're a single kind of gal. "If you're happy, then there's no reason to push yourself to be in a relationship just because society expects it," she says. "Happiness is not a one size fits all, and can only be measured by the person experiencing it," Rogers says. "So if being single makes you happy, stay single! That's all there is to it." Simple.
4. You Just Feel Like You're "Supposed" To Be Single
Contrary to what your friends, family or society might say, if you're happy being single, that's awesome. "There are some people, many of them women, who do have a sense that they should be single," psychologist, image consultant and dating expert Dr. Jennifer Rhodes tells Bustle. If that describes you, embrace it. "We live in a beautiful time where men and women have the luxury of choice, and staying single is no longer considered abnormal," Rhodes says. "[Being single is] meant to be if that person feels at peace, has lots of connections through friends and family and is fulfilled," she says. If you can check all three off your list, you're good to go.
5. You Like The "Rhythms Of Being Single"
If you're happy and have a fulfilling life, Dr. Ramani Durvasula, author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With A Narcissist , tells Bustle, and you're single and have no goal of getting into a relationship, that's great. A lot of times, people feel like they "should" get into a relationship instead of actually wanting to, she says. That doesn't have to be the story of your life, though.
"Being single is not societally dismissed or blasphemed as it once was," she says. "There are certainly temperaments that are better suited to being alone — some people are more solitary by nature, and may enjoy companionship from time to time, but actually prefer the rhythms of being single." Maybe you just like the way things are, and you don't want to change them.
"Some people are just better at solitary and in fact may even prefer it," she says. "Listen to yourself. Getting into a relationship because you feel like the world expects you to — but you don't want it — is not fair to either yourself or the other. Some people like life the way they like it — they may prefer order in their environment, a certain pace of life, travel or move about frequently, and do not want to make room for someone else on a consistent basis." If this is you, that's totally cool. So be it.
6. You Don't Wish You Were In A Relationship
If you're itchy for a partner, then you're probably not meant to be single, psychologist, author and speaker Karin Anderson Abrell tells Bustle. But if this is not you — if you are, in fact, happiest solo — then perhaps you are supposed to be single. "There are, in fact, many adults who prefer living la vida solo, but they know this about themselves, and are quite content with their circumstances," she says. "Psychologist Bella DePaulo researches and writes for this demographic. These individuals haven't 'given up' on finding someone — they truly prefer the single life."
So how do you know for sure that you're in this boat? "You know that you're 'meant to be' single if you're comfortable, content, and don't long for a spouse," she says. Simple as that. "If it's in your nature to enjoy independent time and you prefer making decisions on your own and you'd rather not spend the holidays at your in-laws, then you're probably a good candidate for living single."
7. You Always Feel Tied Down In Relationships
"Some people simply know they want to stay single," New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "They enjoy the freedom, and they don’t have any anxiety about missing out on being part of a couple," she says. "If you’re single, happy and have no regrets, it was meant to be."
As other experts say, it really is this straightforward. "A desire not to be coupled, and to be free, is an indication that someone would do best single," Masini says. "If you have trouble maintaining relationships because you feel stifled or tied down, over and over again, it is an indication you may not be suited for a coupled relationship." If so, just enjoy. There's no reason to force yourself into doing something you're just not that into.
8. You're Happiest Alone
"When a person is content in their own self, they have confidence in themselves to live how they want," relationship coach Melinda Carver tells Bustle. "They do not have to concern themselves with the impossible task of making someone happy, or to live under someone else's thumb." Instead, you're living life exactly as you please, and don't give two hoots about what someone else might want or think. "Being content with their life and living it their way is a joy seldom found by most people," Carver points out. If this is you, yay! Don't worry about expectations.
9. You're Ambitious And Nomadic
"It’s not common for me to come across those who say they are meant to be single, but when I have, they share certain traits: highly ambitious, goal-oriented and nomadic at heart," Cecil Carter, CEO of dating app Lov, tells Bustle. "Their biggest concern when it comes to relationships is someone holding them back in some aspect of their lives," he says. "If someone wants to know if they are meant to be single, they would need to regularly envision themselves in the future," he advises. "If they see themselves being single and focusing outside of relationships, perpetual singularity might be for them." This is a real thing, and it is totally acceptable.
10. You Have A Good Network In Place
"If you enjoy living alone and spending time by yourself, you would prefer not to have to negotiate for what you want with a partner, or your real love is your career, then perhaps you are better off being single," Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences , tells Bustle. "Whether being single is positive or negative depends on the personality," she says. If you love flying under the radar, doing your own thang, then you're well-suited for this lifestyle. "A person who enjoys solitude will do well," she says. "So will an assertive social person who can initiate the contact he or she needs and maintain social connections. "A depressed, shy, passive person, or someone with low self-esteem can get into trouble," she says.
So if you're single and loving it, that rules — but be sure to have a good network in place, she says. "If a person has a social circle and is active, being single is not a problem; in fact, it can be healthier than living with someone in a dysfunctional relationship," she says. "An active person's alone time is cherished and feels basically good." This only works, though, if you have non-alone time too. "A person who is isolated can withdraw into depression, paranoia and bad habits," she says. "An isolated person has no reality check in the feedback of friends and family." As long as this doesn't include you, enjoy your single life!
11. It All Depends On Lifestyle
"I don’t think anyone is 'meant to be' single," Samantha Daniels, Professional Matchmaker and Founder of The Dating Lounge dating app. But before you skip over this one, she adds something important: "Sometimes, people’s lifestyles are better suited for being a single person than a person in a relationship," she says. "For example, a person who travels all the time for work or pleasure, a true workaholic or a person who just prefers to be alone might be better suited as a single person." So Daniels' theory is that you're not necessarily "meant" to be single — it's not some sort of grand cosmic thing — but some people are happiest single and some are not.
12. You Couldn't Care Less If You Meet Someone
If you're not worried about meeting anyone, you're probably best suited to be single, Stefanie Safran, Chicago's "Introductionista" and founder of Stef and the City, tells Bustle. "You don't want to compromise; you like the places you like to go to and you don't want to change," she says. Nothing wrong with that. If you don't have any desire to settle down, make no mistake: You, my friend, are a single woman, through and through.
13. You're Fulfilled
"You are meant to stay single when you lose the desire to be in a relationship," relationship coach and transformational speaker Sherica Matthews tells Bustle. "As humans, we have been designed for relationships — whether friends, co-workers, children, neighbors, etc." But guess what? No one ever said that you have to be in love with someone. "It is not necessary that we all have romantic relationships," she says. "There are few people in this world who have no desire to be in romantic relationships or to experience sexual intimacy. If you fit into this category, then you were meant to stay single."
This doesn't fit everyone to a T, but if it works for you, that's wonderful. "If you have found complete happiness and fulfillment spreading your love to the world without the desire of a relationship, then you know that you are meant to stay single," she says. "At the end of the day, you are the only one who can live your life," Matthews says. "Don't let the pressures of society or friends tell you that you must be in a relationship, that you must be married. Do what's best for your soul and helps you sleep at night." If you're happy, don't knock it.
14. You Never Say Never
"My main piece of advice here is 'never say never,'" clinical hypnotherapist, author and educator Rachel Astarte, who offers transformational coaching for individuals and couples at Healing Arts New York, tells Bustle. "If being single works for you, then surely making a conscious decision to stay single is perfectly honorable," she says. "But to close the door to love just because no partnership has been in your life so far? That's like turning around just before the finish line of a long-distance race simply because everything you're running by has looked the same for the past t1 miles."
Astarte emphasizes that being single is perfectly reasonable and rational if that is truly what you want, but that you should never slam the door to a potential relationship shut just because you have decided that this is the lifestyle you want to lead. "The distinction is an important one: Choosing to be single is one thing; resigning oneself to single-hood is something else entirely," she says. "Remember that you are in charge." If you're happy alone, that's great. Just don't think it's the only option for you if, in fact, you are unhappy.
15. You're Exploring Your Purpose
Maybe on some grand karmic level, someone is 'meant to be single,'" life coach and psychotherapist Dr. Jennifer Howard, author of Your Ultimate Life Plan, acknowledges to Bustle. But there may be more than meets the eye here. "Maybe they are here this life to join a religious order, or help children in Africa, but most of the time, in my experience, if someone is willing to explore the question, there are deeper reasons why we aren’t in a happy, healthy relationship," she says.
Ask yourself these questions, she suggests: "What are you innermost longings in the area of relationship in your life? Have you explored this deeply? Are you single because you don’t want to deal with some unknown reason, childhood trauma, or hidden inner thoughts and feelings?" If you've explored all of this, and you're still happiest alone, then — namaste. Self-knowledge is worth it, though, she adds: "To have abiding happiness, we’ll want to know ourselves, all of our inner stirrings about what is most important to us, our life’s purpose, and why we are here." If you're already there and you're single and happy, then you, my friend, are meant to be single on that grand karmic level.
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