POV: You’ve recently gotten out of a relationship with someone you thought you’d be spending the rest of your life with, and now you find yourself, well… single. You’ve been fed fairy tales since you were a little kid that basically taught you that being single is the worst thing you could possibly be (oh, and you’re also heartbroken), so naturally you’re feeling a bit crappy. Our society seems to revolve around love and relationships (Exhibit A: the dozens of dating show franchises currently running), and while being in a fulfilling partnership can feel amazing, newsflash: Being single isn’t the end of the world. Actually, solo life can be great!
Other than the fact that you can focus more on what makes you (and only you) happy, being single teaches you how to appreciate your own company, gives you the space to reflect on your past relationships and figure out what it is that you want moving forward, and is a great opportunity to strengthen other forms of connections — such as those with friends and family — as well as explore interests you’ve always want to try.
If you’re newly single and having a hard time adjusting to singlehood, here are some tips on how to be OK with being single because although it might hurt right now, it gets better. (Promise.)
What Are The Benefits Of Being Single?
You might be asking yourself, “Are there any benefits to being single?” And the answer is: Yes, there are plenty!
For one, being single allows you to have more time to strengthen your connections with friends and family. “People tend to think of singlehood as you’re alone or you have less connections, when actually you get access to different forms of connection,” says friendship expert and author of the forthcoming book Platonic, on the science of making and keeping friends, Dr. Marisa G. Franco. “Singleness is actually the jackpot of friendship.” Not only do single people tend to spend more time with friends, but research shows that single people tend to have more friends and higher quality friendships than those who are married.
Other than having more access and time for friends, being single also gives you the space to reflect on what went wrong (or could’ve gone better) in your previous relationship, so you’re able to be more mindful when dating in the future. “I would say the number one benefit [of being single] is that if you have a history of toxic relationships or, in general, you’re seeing a negative pattern in your dating history, being single gives you the chance to reevaluate what’s going on so you’re able to be more intentional moving forward,” says Pricilla Martinez, relationship coach and founder of Regroop Coaching. Rather than going from one partnership to the next without taking the time to do any of the inner work to explore in what ways you can be a better partner and what qualities you desire from a future SO, being single is an opportunity to get to know yourself better and heal from past relationships.
How Do You Become More Comfortable With Being Single?
If you’re used to having a partner or recently got out of a long-term relationship, suddenly being single can feel uncomfortable at first. The silver lining is: Once you get past that initial rut, you realize that being single isn’t all that bad!
Getting past those first feelings of loneliness might be one of the hardest parts after a breakup, so one way to become more comfortable with being single is taking stock of who’s in your life, outside of the relationship, and what they bring to the table, explains Martinez. “The problem isn’t that you’re single,” says Dr. Franco. “The problem is that you’re disconnected or alone, and those two things are not synonymous.”
The truth is that there are plenty of people who love and care about you outside of your romantic partnerships (and most likely were there for you even before that person came into your life).
One surefire way to bypass those feelings of loneliness and perceived rejection is to create what Dr. Franco calls a “social infrastructure,” both during and after the relationship. “What this means is creating groups and scheduling times to hang out with your friends. For me, that looks like a bi-weekly dinner. This way you don’t necessarily have to reach out if you already have social interactions set into your agenda.”
Reaching out to your friends and family post-breakup, especially when your ex served as your main support system, can be nerve-wracking. But once you realize there are people willing to help you navigate through those difficult emotions, being single becomes a lot easier.
How To Make The Most Out Of Your Single Life
So you’ve come to the conclusion that being single isn’t the worst thing ever, and you want to live it up while you’re still solo. Here are some expert tips on how to make the most out of your single life.
1. Fill Up Your Calendar
After a breakup, you might experience some initial shock as a result of suddenly being on your own. A great way to cope with that uneasy feeling is to fill up your calendar, says Martinez. Texting your BFFs to schedule a Sunday brunch is always a good idea, but don’t be afraid to also reach out to folks outside of your immediate friend circle.
“Push yourself to call at least two to three people a week, people you haven’t spoken to in a while, and try to start up those connections again,” advises Martinez. “When you’re filling your calendar with speaking to new people, there’s a lot of interest and anticipation there. You also don’t necessarily have to speak with this person about the breakup you just went through if you don’t want to, because there are so many other things to catch up on.”
2. Focus On Your Mental Health
Other than filling up your calendar with friend dates, another way to combat negative emotions and care for your mental health after a breakup is by pursuing activities that make you feel good, such as exercise and therapy, says Dr. Franco.
3. Pursue Your Own Interests And Goals
Being single allows you to pursue interests and goals that would be harder to do if you had to consider a romantic partner, says Dr. Franco. Maybe you’ve always wanted to backpack across Europe, but weren’t able to because you had to consider your partner’s schedule. Now you can finally take that trip, solo!
If you’re interested in hiking, you can join a hiking group through apps like Meetup or Facebook. If you’re a big Rosalía fan and want to understand what she’s singing in MOTOMAMI, sign up for that Spanish language course. Not only are these great opportunities to explore your interests, but they’re also prime spaces for connecting with new people.
4. Revisit Old Favorites And Create New Memories
Maybe you used to love going to your neighborhood diner because they had the absolute best buttermilk pancakes, and now you can’t even look at pancakes (let alone go back to that diner) because they remind you of your ex. Well, let me let you in on a little secret: Eventually you will be able to go back to that diner and savor those buttery soft pancakes, and you’ll create new memories with friends, family, and other people in your life.
“When you start creating new memories there, it kind of erases those hurtful memories,” says Martinez. “Redefine what that place means to you. It doesn’t have to be, ‘Oh the place that I went to with my ex,’ it can become something new for you. When it comes to grieving a relationship, a huge part of it is feeling like, ‘OK, I’m not that person anymore, so I can’t do those things,’ but eventually it gets to a point where you can.”
The bottom line is: It’s better to be single than to be in an unfulfilling relationship. Rather than viewing singlehood as a lack of something, view it as an opportunity to pour love into yourself and better yourself for the next partner.
As Martinez says, “I think redefining what being single is and recognizing that it’s better to be single than to settle in a relationship will help you become more comfortable with it.” Because let’s be honest: You deserve better!
Gillespie, B. J., Lever, J., Frederick, D., & Royce, T. (2015). Close adult friendships, gender, and the life cycle. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32(6), 709–736. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407514546977
Sarkisian, N., & Gerstel, N. (2016). Does singlehood isolate or integrate? Examining the link between marital status and ties to kin, friends, and neighbors. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 33(3), 361–384. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407515597564
Pricilla Martinez, MS, life and relationship coach
Dr. Marisa G. Franco, PhD, psychologist and friendship expert