Being single is treated like having a deadly virus sometimes. In reality, though, it's not that bad. At all. In fact, there are times you should be single for a while, so you can get your life in check and become your best self. In fact, there are even many who swear by the single life with no shame in their games at all.
Even if your ultimate goal is to settle down with someone and build a life together, there are still many valuable things to gain from a period of single living. When I worked with couples as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I spoke with people who were so afraid of being single that they tolerated crappy relationships and swallowed a lot of unhappiness.
Being single for a while can help you avoid that fate. It can give you strength, make you independent, give you time to focus on your goals, and offer time to build strong friendships. Those are all important things to have under your belt when you're looking to form a healthy partnership with another person.
So how do you know when it's time to take a break and play the solo game for a while? Well, the main answer is that you want to. But here are some other signs it might be time to just be single for a while.
1. You're Not Independent
There's nothing wrong with dating if you're not financially independent. If there was, nobody would start dating until their 30s. But you do need to be a certain type of independent before you enter into a serious relationship. The kind that can say "I don't need you. I want you, but if I lost you tomorrow, I could stand on my own two feet." This is the most freeing feeling, and it will keep you from sticking with a bad relationship because you can't live on your own.
2. You Don't Know How To Be Alone
If you can't be alone, then the last thing you need to do is get into a relationship. Don't do it. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Fight all your instincts to couple up with the first person you meet. People who can't be alone tend to form co-dependent relationships, and tend to make choices that are more about keeping their partner than doing what's best for themselves. It almost always leads to a hot bed of mess and drama and bad feels. Healthy people are OK being alone. They may not like it, but they can do it.
3. You Have Serious Trust Issues
I wish I had a dollar for every time I said that healthy relationships are built on trust. It's so true, though. If you've been hurt, or if you have some trauma in your past that you have not dealt with, you might instinctively build up walls, keep people at a distance, avoid deep intimacy, and live in fear of being hurt again. Those are all problems in a relationship. You should be aware of your trust issues, have an understanding of how they affect your relationships, and have a plan for actively working on them before you get into a relationship.
4. You're On Your Grind
Yes, you can have a relationship and have goals. But sometimes you have such big goals that require so much focus, that it's better for you to just keep your eyes on your grind. Especially if you know you'll have to move, travel a lot, work late hours, do school, so work, do an internships, and try to somehow sleep all at the same time. There's no shame in being goal-oriented and not focused on finding love. There's plenty of time for both.
5. You're Feeling Selfish
There are very few times in life when things get to be all about you. In a relationship, you have to do a lot of compromising. When you're single, you can basically do whatever you want with your time, money, and body. It's OK to want that. It's OK to have a period in your life, at any age, where you just want it to be all about you for a while. If you're feeling that way, you'll probably just cause drama in relationships, anyway, because you aren't in a place to take those relationships seriously. Your life, your rules. Be selfish if you want!
6. You Don't Have Many Strong Friendships
Friendships are so important in life. Out friends are our chosen family. We need them, in good times and bad. Plus, it can be harder to make friends when you get older, as you tend to spontaneously meet fewer people and have less time (and energy) to devote to socializing. If you don't really have friends, or you're letting your relationships with your friends fizzle, it might be a good idea to focus on building up your foundation of support people instead of your love life. After all, who is going to be there for you if a bad breakup happens?
7. You Just Had Your Heart Broken
There's a popular saying that goes like "the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else." When we're going through a breakup, we feel symptoms of withdrawal, like people who are dependent on drugs. We crave touch and feel-good chemicals associated with love and sex. Our bodies can literally trick us into thinking we need to be in a relationship. Truth is, the time right after a breakup is a really important time for healing and self-discovery. Better to skip getting into another relationship until you're sure your breakup feels have run their course.
8. You Just Suffered A Loss
In my experience, loss sends people looking for comfort in ways that may not necessarily be healthy. Death, in particular, and the deep well of emotions that come with it, can lead us toward relationships with people we know we should probably avoid. Even if it feels right at the time, odds are, when the feels from the loss fade, you'll now have to deal with the feels from being in a relationship you don't necessarily need or want anymore. Rough.
9. You Kind Of Suck At Relationships
Maybe it's not you. Maybe it is the other person. Either way, if you have a long string of totally unhealthy, train wreck relationships behind you, it might be time to take a breather and figure out what's been going on. It could be nothing except bad luck and jerk partners. Or it could be issues like low self-esteem, poor communication skills, unreasonable expectations, or poor conflict resolution. Take some time to really process. Being single is great for that.
10. You Don't Know What You Want
It's cool if you don't know what you want. Many people don't. But it's awesome when you do know. When you know, you can make goals and guide your life in the direction you want it to go. I'm not just talking about knowing what you want from a partner, but also knowing what you want out of life. If you have no clue what you're doing or where you're going, you could fall into the trap of letting your partner decide the course of your life, which can lead to regret and resentment. Often, it's better to be single for a while, as you figure things out.
11. You Have More Important Things To Worry About
Sometimes you just have more important things in life to worry about than finding someone to be in a relationship with. Maybe you have kids, or you need a job, or you have health issues, or you're taking care of family members. You can have a successful relationship in all of those situations, but you don't have to. Sometimes it's better to just be single for a moment until you get some things handled. Being in a relationship doesn't have to be a priority in your life at all times.
Of course, you're also welcomed to just say "I'm single because I want to be" and offer no justification. Your life, your rules.
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