Your Instagram feed may be studded with pics of smug couples (with eye-roll-inducing captions to boot), but your account features a constant stream of your solo adventures. You’re pretty much a pro now at going stag to weddings. Your besties are always trying to set you up with some random coworker, but you reassure them that you have 99 problems and that #thirdwheel life ain't one. Yup, you’re single AF and honestly, loving every minute of it. But does constantly being single make you bad at relationships?
There are many reasons why someone might opt to stay single for an extended period of time, from a hectic work schedule to healing from a recent breakup. That said, conditions can change, and someone who was previously happy to ride solo may suddenly feel eager to snag a significant other. And for some, being single for a lengthy period can trigger some insecurities around dating. You start to wonder: Will I be able to maintain a relationship after being on my own for so long? Will I know how to be a quality partner?
According to experts, the short answer is this: No, being single does not make you bad at relationships — in fact, it might ultimately make you better at them.
“For some, chronically single means an unwillingness to settle for what is right in front of you,” licensed marriage and family therapist Nicole Richardson tells Elite Daily. “People who move from relationship to relationship are not necessarily less lonely, they are just not alone as often.”
Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, licensed clinical psychotherapist, relationship expert, and author of the new book Training Your Love Intuition, agrees. According to Dr. Wish, there are many valid reasons why someone might choose to be single, such as focusing on their career, dealing with personal health issues, or caring for an ailing family member. She emphasizes that when you’re single, you can use that time to “fine-tune your knowledge about your emotional needs” in a relationship.
“It's not unusual for people today to postpone romantic commitment until they feel more mature,” adds Dr. Wish. “The benefits of waiting until important life and personal issues are more settled are that the person might have developed a greater sense of self, independence, confidence, reliability, and knowledge about what they need in an intimate partner. And, of course, there is always the element of luck: Some people make a good match early in life, some don't!”
When you’re single, you inherently learn to become more independent. You don’t rely on anyone else to entertain you, fulfill your needs or desires, or help you to make decisions. As such, you become increasingly self-sufficient — a quality that Richardson says can actually be beneficial in a relationship.
“Independent people who have a clear sense of self make the best partners,” she explains. “People who enjoy their lives and have good work/life balance are able to show up to new relationships with healthy boundaries.”
Being chronically single may spark some doubts about whether or not you’re “relationship material,” but the truth is, it may ultimately equip you with qualities and skills that could prove useful if you finally do decide to settle down with someone. For one, spending time on your own enables you to hone in on your own personal needs and desires. It gives you the opportunity to figure out what makes you happy outside of someone else — and having your own personal interests and ambitions is sure to make you even more attractive to that future potential bae. Moreover, being single gives you the chance to grow stronger and more independent as an individual, which can only make you a stronger partner in holding up your half of any relationship down the road.
The bottom line? There’s nothing wrong with being single for a lengthy period of time, and there’s certainly no reason why it should hinder your ability to make a relationship work. While romantic experiences can certainly help you to learn and grow a lot as a significant other, being single can also teach you a slew of equally important lessons that are bound to come in handy once you’ve found someone with boo potential — should you ever choose to forfeit your single status, of course.