Whether you’re alone forever or newly single, not being in any romantic relationships right now is a great way to get to know yourself: who you are, what you like, even where you want to go for dinner. Here’s why.
1. You get to make your own decisions.
Whether it’s where to live for the next few years or what to order for dinner in the next few minutes, the choice – and any gastronomical or financial consequences – are yours.
Personally, regardless of my relationship status, I loathe the question, “So, where do you want to go to dinner?” With anyone besides the most compatible dining companion, it can feel like a reluctant compromise at best, an exhausting back-and-forth at worst.
But when you’re single? You never have to negotiate dinner with anyone. You can eat what you want, how you want, when you want. You can decide that this week is pizza week, or challenge yourself by making something from all of your leftovers together, or decide to check the expiration dates on your emergency food stash and make a plan to use and replenish the ones that are closest to going bad. You can listen to the same song on repeat the whole time you cook, too. It’s up to you.
2. Everything is your fault.
The best and worst part of being alone is the same: everything is your fault. If things go well, it’s your fault. If they don’t, it’s also your fault.
3. You get to manage your own bedroom and sleep hygiene.
Your bed can be your own. You can spread out, use all the pillows, pull up all the covers or toss them all off, and starfish across the bed if you want to. Always wondered about floor sleeping? Go for it. Want to teach your cat or dog the command “come cuddle”? The only allergies that will be offended are yours. Time for new pillows? Go get ’em, tiger. Look at a guide on sleep style and pillow loft and density to find your perfect match.
Even if you never lived with a partner, or if you share your space with children, family, or roommates, your bedroom when you’re single can be your sanctuary no matter what’s going on with the rest of your house. Get the sheets you want, or don’t; the nightstands and lighting you want, or don’t; fill it with books and essential oils and organic dildos or keep it minimal and clutter-free. Set 16 alarms or wake up with the daylight. Enforce a no-phones policy for yourself or fall asleep with multiple devices in both hands every night. Just claim your bedroom and make it your own.
4. You can get comfortable with yourself in ways you might not otherwise.
Growing and evolving don’t stop just because you enter a romantic relationship, but they often take a backseat. Even when they don’t, there’s one main thing it’s hard to practice when you’re in a relationship: sitting alone with yourself and your thoughts even when you don’t want to. What is it like to keep yourself company night after night? What is it like to feel the feelings that come up when you do so? What is it like to make your own fun?
What is it like to see all that as an opportunity, rather than as something negative?
Getting comfortable being alone with yourself is hard for many people. Loneliness can be painful. Keeping your own company – and loving it – takes practice. (No, scrolling on social media the whole time doesn’t count as keeping your own company.) Not having a partner to share your day or listen to your stories can lead to all sorts of unpleasant feelings, especially when you’re used to having someone around in that way.
But the truth is, whether you’re happily married, self-partnered for life, seriously dating four people, or anywhere in between, everyone needs to get good at being alone. It’s not reasonable to ask a partner – or multiple partners – to keep you happy and meet all your needs one hundred percent of the time. You must figure out what you need to be happy and meet your own needs first. You make your own choices, and you walk your own path, regardless of your relationship status.
Being single is about not just being okay with being alone, but also loving it.
Learn to feel the loneliness, allow it to be inside you, and know that it is just a feeling. It isn’t a fact. Decide to get to know yourself. What do you like? What do you not like? What have you always assumed you still like or still hate but haven’t checked in with yourself on lately? Do you like golf? Do you hate hiking? Do you prefer to spend weekends giving back to your community? What do you want to watch if no one else is around? Where do you want to go to dinner? Take yourself out for a spin and really gain a new appreciation and acceptance of who you are. No matter what your romantic future holds, you’ll be better equipped to embrace it.