5 Things You Can Only Learn When You're Single

As much as I complain (and bitch and moan and rant and freak out) about being single for most of my 20s, when I actually think about this time I’ve had on my own… I’m already thankful. I look forward to the day when I do meet someone I can tolerate past a second date, but having so many years and experiences solo has not only made me stronger, it’s taught me different things I couldn’t have learned if I was partnered up.

In fact, if you ask any psychologist or dating coach, they’ll tell you how essential it is to learn how to be 100 percent independent — financially and emotionally — before you enter into a long-term, committed relationship. “I think being single is an exercise that every person should go through at some point in their adult life. It is a time that gives us the distance and clarity that we need to get to know who we truly are as a person, and to firmly define what it is that we want in a future partner,” psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez tells Bustle.

So what can you learn as a single-something that you can’t gain when you’re in a relationship? These things:

1. You Get To Learn Exactly Who You Are

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While — of course — you learn things about yourself when you’re partnered up, Martinez explains that being single affords you the opportunity to look at yourself, your values and what you want, without considering any other feedback. “You are able to learn who you are as an individual, and not as a couple. This is an important differentiation. Who we are alone, as a unique human being on our own, is often very different than what we become, or what we allow ourselves to be in a relationship. This is your time to get a firm sense of self, and to promise yourself to never forget it, or let go of it, no matter who you are or are not with,” she says.

2. You Can Figure Out What You Want Objectively

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If you’ve ever been in one of those relationships that your gut tells you isn’t going to work out (no matter how much your heart wants to argue), you know what I mean here. When you’re part of a twosome, you might see the qualities and characteristics that you don’t exactly mesh with, but it’s tougher to rule them as deal-breakers because they’re tied to another person. “When we are in a relationship, we are too close to a situation, and possibly habits that have grown to annoy us. When we have this time to step away and get some perspective, we can make some clear and honest decisions about what we are really looking for,” Martinez says.

3. You Learn What You Really Want To Do

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Want to travel alone? Learn a new language? Splurge on something that is out of your budget — but you have been lusting after? When you’re single, this is the time to do it. Not because you can’t do these same things when you have a partner, but because you’ll be in a different headspace — and likely, more open — when you’re without one. 

“You can go and have any experience you want, whenever you want, and not have to worry about what someone else wants,” Martinez says. “This is the time to travel on your own, to take a class just for fun, to do as many activities that you want, as you will not always have the chance to just pick up and do what you feel like. It is not that a partner holds you back, it is that in good relationships, you make decisions as a couple.”

4. You Will Learn To Prioritize Friendships

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Though of course, friends matter at every stage in your life, when you’re single for an extended period of time, you learn to turn to those friendships more than you might if you had a partner. This helps you avoid being the type that disappears once they get into a relationship, and teaches you that no matter if you’re in love (or not), it’s the bonds you form with people that will get you through all of life’s difficult (and amazing) moments.

5. You Will Learn How To Be Independent

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Even in a relationship, being independent will help keep your union healthy, mature, and stable. As you mom always told you, no one can bloom in the shade! Plus, who doesn't want to be comfortable and happy doing things on their own?

Images: Fotolia; Giphy

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