Secrets To Happy Singlehood

It’s only when you’re content that you’ll meet The One. Here, our expert shares a plan to help you do just that.

By Anna Harris

e’re not breaking ground here—you’ve probably heard this adage from smug marrieds enough times to make your blood boil. But, guess what... it’s true. “Being single gives you time to explore what makes you happy, which ultimately makes you a stronger, more well-rounded person... and a person new people want to be around,” says Sasha Cagan, author of cult phenomenon quirkyalone: a manifesto for uncompromising romantics. Here’s how to make it happen.

Step 1: Quiet the little voices
Let’s face it, society constantly reminds people that you need to be paired up to be happy—to be a real grownup. Just walk by any newsstand: No less than three out of five cover lines of women’s and men’s magazines promote sex or relationships, notes Rachna D. Jain, Psy.D., a life and relationship coach. “They can often make it seem that everyone’s involved in a
You need to redefine yourself as single by choice, at least for now.
really hot love affair except you,” she says.

So how can you tune out the static? Check your friends—are you hanging out with enough like-minded singletons? “Being with couples can often make it worse,” Jain says. “You may find yourself constantly comparing yourself to them.” And when Mom (or anyone else) asks for the millionth time why haven’t you settled down, be frank. Say, “I really appreciate that you want me to be happy. but your constant focus on how I’m not in a couple is not making me happy.” Enough said.

Step 2: Dig up the past
To be truly happy as a single, you need to redefine yourself as single by choice, at least for now—someone who doesn’t just settle for anyone. Along your journey as a single person, you’ve probably had your fair share of groan-worthy relationships. Use that knowledge to your advantage and (re)discover all the ways it’s better to be single and happy than stuck in a rut with a dud. Need a memory refresh? Review your relationship history—on paper. For each partner, list how long you two were together, what you liked and disliked about this person, and why it ended. If you only recall the good times (it happens), enlist some truth-seekers (a.k.a. your friends). Ask them to remind you of an unworthy boyfriend or girlfriend from your past. Soon enough, you’ll start to realize that it’s better to be free than, say, dating a freeloader.

Step 3: Work on a relationship…with yourself
Being single is a great opportunity to grow as a person—to appreciate yourself and your idiosyncrasies. “Just like all the other relationships in your life — with your family, your friends — it takes a lot of work to maintain a relationship with yourself,” explains Judy Ford, author of Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled and Independent. “The more you know about yourself, the more you know the type of person
Everything has a good side; you just need to learn how to spot it.
you want to be with.”

But self-realization doesn’t always come easy. You can get started with a few simple writing exercises. “Journals help you delve deeper into your feelings,” Jain says. “Start writing about a hot-button topic, like the get-married pressure you’re getting from Mom. By taking the time to describe why something angers you, you’ll start to understand yourself and your motivations better.” Positive, focused writing can have the same effect: Try listing your life goals and when you want them to happen, regardless of whether you’re single or married. Finally, realize that happiness can come from places outside relationships: Creative projects, travel, your career. Need a kick-start? Jot down at least five things that make you happy every day.

Step 4: Celebrate your singlehood
With new episodes of Sex and the City long gone, it seems that there’s an empty hole to fill—the one that glamorizes the single life. “Now all that’s left are shows like The Bachelor,” sighs Cagan. So create your own ways to celebrate singlehood, and live it up! And remember, everything has a good side; you just have to learn how to spot it—or reframe it, as Jain notes. If sleeping alone at night triggers a sense of loneliness, respin the situation in your mind to realize the benefits (you can eat ice cream in bed, sleep diagonally, snooze, snore... you name it). Finally, make a list of 100 things that you would like to do by yourself — things you could never do if you had a boyfriend or girlfriend — and start doing them. “When you’re single, you can redecorate your place at any time, take off on the spur of the moment, even have the whole crossword puzzle to yourself!” Jain says.

Anna Harris is a New York-based writer and editor who’s learning to love being single.
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