9 Signs You're Happier Single Than In A Relationship — And Why That's Perfectly Fine
Whether you’ve tried coupling up and realized you prefer your own company, are recovering from a breakup and need some time to regroup and date yourself, or have dated here and there and haven't found “The One,” there are so many reasons why people choose to stay single.
In fact, several studies show that there are more singles today than ever before. According to 2017 data from the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of American people under 35 choose to be single. But while pop culture would have you believing that everyone who's single is out there looking for a life partner, plenty of people have other priorities. In a recent Bustle survey, 60 percent of people who said they are single and not dating also said they're currently prioritizing self-care.
Society tends to treat being single as a "phase," but for some, it's a life choice — and a valid one at that. “Some people are genuinely happier single than in a relationship, and that can be normal and healthy,” Antonia Hall, psychologist, relationship expert, and author of the Sexy Little Guide books, tells Bustle. "For some people, being single allows life to feel full and satisfying as it is.” She also stresses that just because you’re single, it doesn’t mean that you have to be lonely or unfulfilled.
“The beauty of life is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and as long as life is filled with activities that bring you genuine contentment, you’re doing it right,” Hall says.
If you're not totally sure where you stand, here are some telltale signs you're happier being single than in a relationship, according to experts.
1. You Like Having Complete Control Of Your Time
Relationships are all about compromise, but when you’re single, you and you alone get to control your schedule. Aside from work and other responsibilities, when it comes to how you spend your time, you’re a free agent. And if that's your favorite part of being single, and you're not ready to give it up, know that you don't have to.
“You may be happier single than in a relationship if you prefer having complete control over how you spend your time,” Heidi McBain, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of Life Transitions: Personal Stories of Hope Through Life’s Most Difficult Challenges and Changes, tells Bustle. “For example, you can go for a really long run and don’t need to check in with a partner about what they would like to do. You can also do other activities you want to do, from staying home and reading all day to going to see one group of friends after another.”
Margaux Cassuto, relationship expert and matchmaker at Three Matches, also says that enjoying having ownership over your schedule is a clue that you’re happier single. “Your personal schedule is sacred, and if you can’t stand deviating from it for any reason or anybody, that’s a sign,” she tells Bustle. “It’s fine to value your own time and plans and recognize that versus unsuccessfully squeezing someone else into them.”
2. You Enjoy Seeing Who You Want, When You Want
When you're single, you can see who you want, when you want. But when you’re part of a couple, your time gets divided among many commitments — friends, family, co-workers, etc., as well as your partner’s friends, family, and co-workers, too. If the thought of that seems daunting, you may be happier single. “You can spend time with friends and family who you truly want to see, not ones you are obligated to see,” McBain says.
3. You're Focused On Personal & Professional Goals More So Than Anything Else
Everyone has goals, and for some, there are plenty of things that take priority over romantic relationships. “You may be happier single when you are working on a personal/professional goal that is on your bucket list and you have your eyes on the prize,” Cassuto says. “Meaning, you don’t want to be distracted by anything, and especially anyone, so you embrace your single status to achieve your personal best.”
Hall, too, thinks personal and professional goals can trump relationship ones for some. “You may be exploring your passions and are grateful not to have another person demanding your time and attention away from other things that have meaning for you,” she says.
4. You Feel Like You Need To Be Alone To Be Who You Really Are
Jill Sherer Murray, writer, TEDx speaker, and founder of lifestyle brand LetGoForIt.com, says a key sign that you’re happier single is when the thought of being alone feels better than being with someone else — physically, mentally, and emotionally. “When you’d rather be doing anything or be anywhere else than with a date or your significant other, it’s a sign you need the freedom to be who you are, without compromise,” she tells Bustle. For some, this may be a phase, like if you just got out of a relationship. But for others, it may be a more long-term feeling — and either one is perfectly OK.
5. You're Enjoying Exploring Your Interests
Even if you're in a relationship, it’s important and healthy to have your own interests outside of it, too. When you prefer being single, chances are, you have even more time to figure out what activities make you the most happy. “You can travel and spend time exploring things you never gave yourself the chance to do or possibly wouldn’t be able to do if in a relationship,” Thomas Edwards, founder of The Professional Wingman, tells Bustle.
6. You Get Excited When “X” Person Is Not Available To See You
Think back to when you were casually dating or in a relationship with someone: if you were more excited to spend time alone versus when you’re with them, you may prefer being single. “When we’re in fulfilling relationships, we want to be with our partners, and to share our experiences with them, such as travel ones,” Sherer Murray says. “So if you’re feeling relieved and not disappointed when your partner tells you [they're] going away without you, that’s saying something important and you should listen: It’s time to make a break.” She says the same goes for preferring to do other things alone, like watching Netflix.
7. You Prefer To Make Guilt-Free Decisions
Similar to controlling your schedule and deciding how to spend your free time, when you’re happily single, you can also make guilt-free decisions, Edwards says, without having to consider anyone else. If that's something you're not willing to give up right now, you may be happier single.
“While this might seem harsh at first, having this experience will make it so much easier to make decisions considering someone else if you’re in a relationship down the line,” he says.
8. You Don’t Make A Lot Of Time To Date
Yes, you may be busy juggling work, your social life, your family, and other obligations. However, if you don’t make dating a priority, you may prefer being single — and that’s totally fine. "Dating can be exhausting,” Sherer Murray says. “But if you’ve filled your life to the brim, there’s not much time left for love. Sometimes, if we’re not very introspective or attuned to our own guts, we don’t always understand that it’s time to cut the ties from dating or a dating partner.” According to Sherer Murray, filling your life with everything but dating is the only sign you need that you’re more suited to single life right now.
“If you’re leaving little time to give a relationship the care and feeding it needs to thrive, let alone survive, pay attention to that,” she says.
9. You're Still Learning Who You Are
When it comes to being happier when single, Edwards believes it’s mostly about loving your freedom. “It’s not just simply being out of a relationship, but what that freedom can provide,” he tells Bustle. “You have more time to get your sh*t together and become the person you want to be."
Cassuto is also an advocate of “doing you” and concentrating on self-love. “Whether it’s a result of a negative event or because you deserve it, you are taking care of yourself — it’s perfectly fine and can be far healthier to stay single.”
Amie Leadingham of Amie the Dating Coach, a master certified relationship coach, says that if you feel like you need more time to get to know yourself, you may be happier being single. "If you’re in a self-discovery phase, your independence is so important, as you are learning about who you are and what you want,” she tells Bustle. “This is a perfect time to just date yourself for a while and make YOU a priority." She also stresses that being in a relationship should never be a need to complete you; rather, it should be a want and add value to your already awesome life.
“You can be lonelier in a bad relationship than being single and having the freedom to do what you love in life,” she says.
There you have it — signs you’re happier single than in a relationship, whether you’re single temporarily or long-term. After all, at the end of the day, you’re your best company, so you may as well enjoy it as much as you can.