If you’re unattached and looking for love, there’s one piece of advice circulating around the blog-o-sphere that’s particularly annoying: You should love being single. It’s not enough to be okay being single while you try to meet people. No, you should love it.
Here are some of the best reasons why: You get to go on endless first dates at fun places. You don’t have to deal with in-laws or a partner’s messy kitchen habits. You don’t have to shave or wear nice underwear. Wondering what to order for dinner or pick on Netflix? It’s your choice every time. And you get the bed all to yourself!
I’ve pushed the “Enjoy your single time!” mantra myself. That’s because your relationship status shouldn’t influence whether or not you enjoy your life. You have to learn how to be happy on your own because you can never depend on another person to supply your joy. Plus, no matter how blessed you are with friends, family and significant others, there are going to be times when you’re staring into the abyss of a solo Sunday. It’s an important life skill to figure out how to be content with your own company.
But that doesn’t mean you have to love it.
There’s a big difference between making the best of your single years and pretending you’re happy with life as a “me” when you really want to be part of a “we.” There are some people who are “single by choice,” and they really prefer their freedom over negotiating with another person. But taken to the extreme, some sellers of singledom actually make you feel guilty if you just want to share your life with someone – as if wanting romance, intimacy and closeness were traits of the dependent and desperate.
What if you could freely admit that you want a sweetie? Maybe you could even break every relationship advice rule and say you need one. Yes, some days you’re impressively self-sufficient and can live in the now and take comfort in all the other blessings in your life. But on other days you crave companionship and affection. You can’t stand the idea of eating one more burrito bowl at Chipotle by yourself for dinner. You’d trade the ability to sleep diagonally across your bed by yourself for the pleasure of waking up next to someone. You’ll gladly watch his TV shows or her kids’ soccer games just to spend time with someone who gets your jokes, laughs at your quirks and knows just where to nuzzle your neck.
There’s something refreshing about meeting people who wear their hearts on their sleeve and actually say that they long to share their lives with someone special. It’s honest. It’s vulnerable. It’s human. They don’t clutter the chance of a connection with boasts of being so amazingly satisfied with single lives full of work travel, marathon training, dogs, kids and home renovation projects. I remember chatting with a guy friend who gave me this post-date report: “This girl told me about a dozen activities she had planned for the weekend that I wondered how she would ever be able to fit someone in her life,” he said. “It was almost as if she was too good at being single.”
That’s an extreme case. You can be really great at being single and still manage to admit you’d like a little romance without worrying about it being seen as a character flaw. So love your single life! But give yourself permission to need love too.
About the Author:
Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist and the author of Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Slate and Salon.