A fiery free spirit who enjoys the single life might not be your thing, but you can be happy if you’re not coupled, with these helpful ideas.
MagicEyes / 123RF Photo
Sometimes I hate being single. Like the other night when I woke up with my heart racing like I’d just ran a marathon. It was very scary! My doctor didn’t seem too concerned about it, so I didn’t worry. Until it happened again! All I wanted was to be held and reassured — but there was no one there to do that. Oh, how I hated being so alone!
Then I realized I wasn’t. Sure, there wasn’t anyone in bed next to me — and if past partners were any indication, he wouldn’t have reassured me or would have even made things worse by adding his own dose of worry. I do, however, have access to a medical clinic where I could get a second opinion. So, I made an appointment. They were concerned. I got an EKG (normal) and a physician assistant told me that she was going to kick this up in urgency given my family history.
Still, nights were scary. What if I needed to go to the emergency room? I finally realized I needed help and wasn’t asking for it because I was ashamed, as if I had brought this whole thing onto myself. I pushed myself to reach out on Facebook. The outpouring of support was amazing! I now have two offers from friends who are willing to go with me to appointments — and that’s from people I wouldn’t have ever thought to ask for help.
If you hate being single is there something from my experience that you might apply to your own situation? I think there is. There are two ways to untangle ourselves from those “I hate being single” ideas.
The first thing is to simply acknowledge the way we feel. In my case, that was scared and lonely. Feeling lonely tends to crop up a lot when we don’t like being single. Admit it: It sucks being alone when it wasn’t your choice! Often we fight those feelings, so an important first step is to accept them. They are what they are, no matter how uncomfortable.
Out of that acceptance, which tends to calm us down, we might see that we’re only alone because we think there’s only one way to not be lonely: to couple up. If we limit ourselves to that choice, we’re missing out on a lot of the connections and support that’s available, as I found out.
When we think the only reason we’re lonely is because we’re single, we avoid facing our loneliness and instead blame our singleness. Sure, one solution would be to couple up. In fact, this is the culturally prescribed solution. We’re immersed in a culture that suggests that coupling up is the way to avoid loneliness. It’s not the only solution, however! We can feel less lonely, as I have, by reaching out to our friends or even getting a pet. And there’s another aspect to all of this. One that’s often not acknowledged: couplemania, the overvaluation of the couple. We ignore how lonely it can feel to be in a coupled relationship when the other person isn’t a good match or even cruelly ignores us.
A solution for loneliness is a resilient web of connections — helpful whether you’re coupled or not. This web includes a variety of connections, from casual acquaintances to very close friends. Some of our friends might know about our most recent depressive episode, while others might not because we decided not to tell them. We get hugs from some. We go to the movies with others. The beauty of this approach is that it supports you whether you’re single or not. You can easily add a partner to the web!
A social network also takes the burden off of a romantic partner who is often expected to be there to meet our every need. We become stronger and so do all of our relationships when we don’t over-rely on any one person.
Okay, you say, I have tons of friends, I rarely feel lonely, but I still hate to be single!
Ask yourself why you hate being single. Or ask what you believe you would gain if you were coupled. Then remember the two ways we might dig ourselves into hating being single: 1) we’ve avoided looking at the underlying cause (like not feeling certain emotions or hiding from our friends) or 2) we are stuck in the belief that the only solution is to get coupled, even though there are so many other options to address our situation.
Using this approach, you might not give up on your preference to find a romantic partner because, ultimately, that’s what you really want. However, by stepping away from focusing so much on how horrible being single seems to you, you can enjoy the time that you are single, build a life that will serve you no matter what — and maybe even find that partner — or not. You might even discover that you actually like your single life — as unimaginable as that seems today.
Copyright © Rachel A. Buddeberg/2015 Singular Communications, LLC.
Rachel A. Buddeberg works to raise awareness about the cultural norms that stop us from living fully. She provides tools that bring intentionality to relationships and counteract internalized norms and past patterns. As a relationship coach, she offers one-on-one coaching using an iterative design process. This allows her clients to build sustainability and fun into their relationships, no matter what their level of intimacy. She combines training in permaculture, compassionate communication (NVC), philosophy, and social psychology into skillful guidance to support change. Everything she teaches is grounded in science and was first implemented into her own life, so her methods are well tested in the real world. To find out more about her work, please see www.yourlifeisagarden.com.