Sophie Watson, 02.06.2017

7 things that being single can teach you about love and relationships

It’s perfectly possible to be single and happy about the situation. But, if you’re single and you don’t want to be, it can feel more hellish than happy. Society’s pressure to couple up and settle down can make you feel like being single means missing out on the fulfillment that those in relationships seem to find so effortlessly.

Of course, before you plummet into a sad-singledom spiral that would make Bridget Jones proud, it’s important to remember two things. One, relationships are never as effortless as they look from the outside – happy couples have learned the lessons that make their love work. Two, being single can actually teach you some of these lessons about love – lessons that can help you ensure your next relationship is one of the good ones.

7 love lessons you can learn by being single

1. You don’t need to be in love to be loved

It’s easy to slip into a thought pattern where not having a lover equates with being unlovable. Yet, being single reminds you that love isn’t just confined to romance. Indeed, without a partner to automatically turn to in times of need or celebration, you begin to notice how much other love is all around you: it can come from friends, family – even from yourself. By noticing the value of this platonic love, you’ll not only find yourself happier being single, you’ll be a better partner when you do meet someone – for, rather than relying on them to bring love into your life, you’ll be inviting them to share the love you already have.

2. The only person who can heal your old hurts is you

Anyone who has been through a breakup will have run into advice telling them to get back in the saddle, the logic being that a rebound relationship stops you thinking about the heartbreak. Yet, in practice, these relationships are more likely to add fresh hurts than they are to heal the old ones. Healing can’t be done for you by someone else; you have to allow yourself the space to process what went wrong, and how it’s going to be done right in the future. And that’s something that’s best done when you’re single, with no romantic distractions to stop you reconnecting with who you are and what you want from life and, eventually, love.

3. Pleasing yourself is a vital part of lasting happiness

Of course, being single isn’t all quiet reflection. It can also be really, really fun. While being in couple teaches you how to compromise, singledom teaches you how to please no-one but yourself. You have time to find out what it is you really like; whether that’s discovering new hobbies, or figuring out what makes you tick emotionally and physically. Not only is this a pretty great thing to learn for your own benefit, it will stand you in great stead for your future relationships. After all, if you know how to make yourself happy, you won’t have to depend on a future partner to do it for you. You can instead work together for mutual benefit.

4. You can be happy about love and still be single

Pop culture cliché says a single person among loved-up couples has to be bitter. And, if you’ve only ever been on the couple side of that scenario, you might assume that it’s true. Yet, being single teaches you that the situation’s not that simple. You learn that your attitude about love is in your hands: you can choose to dwell on the (perfectly normal) flashes of envy that you may feel, or you can choose to see these couples as proof that happy relationships do exist. By opting for the latter, you discover that finding this positive attitude gets easier and easier to find – and that your happy frame of mind ends up making you extra attractive!

5. You can complete yourself

It’s a tale as old as time. Two single people finally find their ‘other half’ and all the clichés come true: they complete each other, the final piece of the puzzle slots into place, etc. It’s romantic, sure, but it’s also simplistic – and not overly healthy. Expecting someone else to make you whole (and vice versa) smacks of co-dependency. And, while you can learn this lesson as part of a couple, it’s so much easier when you’re single and forced by necessity to work on completing yourself. Being single shows you that you can be whole without romantic love, which in turn lets you focus on finding a partner that complements rather than completes you.

6. Being single is far better than being with the wrong person

Being single gives you the chance to discover how amazing the solo life can be. You have freedom to make major life changes as needed and power to please yourself without compromise. You realize that being single is not scary, and that embracing it will bring you so much more happiness than you would get from settling for the wrong person. And, should you meet someone who makes you want to change your single status, you’re in a position to act on it – you’re far better placed than the person in an unhappy relationship who must first go through a breakup and heartbreak before they can think about dating again.    

7. Finding the right person is a marathon, not a sprint

In film and tv, being single is often treated like a difficulty that must be overcome as swiftly as possible. In reality, though, it’s anything but. It’s a time to find yourself, to work out what pleases you and what you want to be. It’s a chance to really get to know - and to love - you. Given all that, why would you want to give it all up for anyone who is anything less than extraordinary? This is perhaps the best thing that you can learn from being single: that your single status is not something that needs to be cured by the first flirty man or woman to come along. You don’t have to settle.

This doesn’t mean that you have to stop dating, or that looking for love somehow invalidates all that you’ve learned during the single life. It simply means that being single teaches you how wonderful you really are, and that, rather than making a match out of desperation or convenience, you deserve to wait for the love that truly suits you.

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