Being single is one of the biggest demographic changes of recent years. The consensus by theOffice for National Statistics shows that 35% of the UK population of over 16s are now single, while the percentage of those who are married has been on a steady decline for over a decade.
In America, almost half the population is now unmarried, with almost a third of households (28.1 per cent) made up of people living alone, according to the Census Bureau.
A recent German study reports that modern day singles are happier with their lives than their historical counterparts — and getting happier as they age.
It’s all designed to make someone who is single feel somehow lacking.
How to navigate a coupled-out world as a single, and stay sane? Editor and lead writer Andrea Blundell explores.
Being Single and Feeling Good – How to Keep it Sane
1. Quit with the comparison.
The best way to kill your mood has got to be comparison. And yet our connected world constantly encourages it. Even if we all know that Instagram accounts present a curated and edited reality, we can still be inwardly comparing ourselves.
The secret comparison that gets overlooked is comparing our current self to other selves, past or future. Endless mind games where we romanticise a past relationship, or dream of how happier we will be with some ideal future partner, or what terrible future might befall us, should we choose to stay single? Kill any chance to enjoy our own company in the here and now.
2. Don’t fall into the ‘should’ trap.
There can be a lot of ‘should’s thrown at singletons. You ‘should’ date, for example.
But this is your life. And you are free to question traditional ways of living. You do not have to date. You do not even have to ever want to be in another relationship, or be monogamous.
And you don’t have to travel the world solo, go out every weekend, go whitewater rafting, or try any other apparent ‘single’ adventure. If your version of single is staying home and reading, then own it.
The more goal-orientated you become, the less you might find relatives and friends asking about ‘when you’ll find someone’. Often they are just wanting to see you happy. If you have good goals that have you passionate and excited, that gives them other things to ask about.
Not sure if you have self-compassion or not? Sit down and write a letter to a friend going through a problem, giving them support.
Now change the name at the top to your own, and read it to yourself. How comfortable does it feel?
Being self-compassionate means working to treat ourselves with as much respect and understanding as we do our best friends. What is one way you could let yourself off the hook about something, right here and now? And how will that feel?
8. Kill the cognitive distortions.
It might be all fine, your single life, during the week and at work. Then the weekend hits, and you feel lonely.
Another idea here is to record achievements. Some of us can unconsciouslyfeel like a ‘failure’ if we are single. We aren’t matching up to the expectations others have of us. Taking time to write down three to five things that you achieved each day, even if it’s small things like making a healthy meal, can train your brain into feeling successful.
Being single can be a very good thing. For some people, it’s their preferred state of being and how they spend their lifetime. And that is perfectly okay.
But if you are single because ‘everyone lets you down’ or ‘relationships are dangerous’ then this shows you are staying single to avoid hurt and old painful patterns being triggered. But these things need to be processed to be happy single, too. Otherwise they will trigger in other ways, like work relationships.
And if you have had a good time being single but have met someone you really connect with, who you can be yourself with, and who seems supportive ? It’s okay to stop being single, even if you have told others you won’t. Life doesn’t always go to plan.