Being Single Holds Major Pluses!
By Alex DeWoskin, LCSW
Being single has somehow gotten a bad rap. If you are single, you probably can relate. This is particularly if you have reached a certain age and don’t have someone attached to your arm. When you share with friends you are single, how many of them turn into instant match-makers, saying things like: “Oh I have the perfect person for you” or “You just need to put yourself out there more – it will happen!”
Underneath these kinds of remarks, there is an implication that somehow you must be unhappy and by extension – flawed. Never mind the fact that according to research, nearly 47% of the population is unmarried!
Being Single and Society
I’ve written about single life in the past and explored why not being attached to another can be a recipe for happiness. Adopting this mindset, however, can be challenging in a world where a premium is placed on all things romance. Think about it for a minute. There are entire industries dedicated to the relationship and love business that influence our entire culture. Go walk over to the card section at your local pharmacy and you’ll see exactly what I mean. If that’s not enough, flip on your television and you’ll eventually come across entire television networks reinforcing the “relationship” message.
One of our goals here at Couples Counseling Center is to help our clients be the best person they can possibly be. Part of this involves assisting those we come into contact with depart from conventional, toxic thinking that strongly suggests being single is a net negative.
What follows are 10 benefits of being single that you may not have thought about. Some of these points might seem like common sense while others will cause you a moment of reflection. Read them all so that you are better able to absorb their collective meaning.
Let’s jump right in!
1) Ability to focus on yourself
When you are dating someone else, you necessarily need to focus on the other person’s needs in order to make the relationship work. When you are single, the opposite is true. In many ways it can be like dating yourself with the ability to do the things YOU want to do – without having to worry about a mate liking it or not. Some people think of this as a permission slip to be selfish. In truth, it’s more like a green light to focus on personal growth.
2) Ability to Travel
Many single people share with us they avoid traveling because they don’t have someone to hang with during a trip. While this is understandable, traveling by yourself has lots of pluses! You can go where you please, stay out as late as you want and meet new people in the process. And while many destination spots tend to be geared for couples, there’s also plenty to do if you are on your own.
3) No need to check in
A major relationship maintenance function is the act of checking in with a mate at various points throughout the day. This commonly happens through email, phone and text. When you are single, you don’t need to engage in these time consuming activities. You can come and go as you please and not have to worry about a mate thinking you are cheating or being unfaithful. Not such a bad thing – huh?
4) Chance to learn new skills
Have you always wanted to learn photography? How about learning how to play tennis or volleyball? One of the major benefits of being single is the ability to invest your time learning new skills. Let’s face it, when you are in a relationship with someone, finding clock hours to focus on these types of activities can be difficult. If you have recently broken up with someone, you might want to read our article on common losses after a breakup that can be turned into gains!
5) Deepening friendships
The older we get, the more we start to realize that friendships are extremely important. When we are romantically involved, it can be difficult to find the time to nurture and grow these relationships. This is particularly true if were dating someone codependent. When you are single – if even for a brief period of time – you have the golden opportunity to reinvest in and renew your friendships. When’s the last time you took in a movie with someone you went to school with? How about having a cup of coffee with an old buddy from yesteryear?
Contrary to what many think, being single does hold certain health benefits. According to governmental research, if you are single you are more likely to exercise. Other research suggests you are also less likely to gain weight. This makes sense when you consider how sedentary so many couples become after they settle into a routine. Do you want to focus more on toning up and slimming down? If so, there’s no time like the present!
7) Better night’s sleep
When you are in a relationship, there’s a good chance the person you are sleeping with will be fidgety. If you have ever slept with someone who tosses and turns all night, you know exactly what I mean. Researchers at the Sleep Counsel in the UK discovered that a massive amount of married couples sleep apart (aka on the couch) because they can’t deal with their partner’s nighttime body movements. Guess what – if you are single, you don’t have to worry about this!
8) Less stress on social media
Do you like to hang out on social media and provide updates throughout the week about all that is happening in your life? When you are in a relationship with someone, you necessarily have to be mindful of what you post because it can be taken out of context. Not so when you are single. You don’t have to worry about sending out the “wrong” message that can make a lover pissed off. Kind of cool, isn’t it?
9) The chance to save money
Conventional thinking holds that people in relationships save more money. While this may be true of couples who have been together for many years, this isn’t necessarily the case when the relationship first starts. There are lots of things to pay for during the beginning phase – like movies, dinners, gifts and mini-trips. If you are single, you don’t have to worry about these things and can pocket that cash!
10) Better self-esteem
Once you detox from the societal messages about the “need” to be attached to another, you can start to focus on the most important relationship of all – a relationship with you. This means getting to know yourself better, understanding what you want out of life and by extension – who and what you don’t! Over the course of time, this healthy self-focus fortifies your self-concept and can ultimately increase self-esteem.
Being Single Book Recommendation
One of the resources we recommend to our clients who struggle with this topic is the book, Being Singled Out by Dr. Bella DePaulo. What I personally like about this read is how the author cuts through all of the stereotypes connected to singledom, using scientific research to support key points.
DePaulo “tells it like it is” and causes readers to re-think many of their preconceived notions about dating and romance. She also directly speaks to the many myths of marriage. It you are looking for some reasons to celebrate being single, this book is for you!
So much about our self-concept is built upon what we think others think of us. It doesn’t help our self-view if when we have bought into the numerous single stereotypes. I hope what you have read here in some way helps to shift your thinking towards something more positive. In many ways – being single is a gift that you can’t put a price tag on. Ask some of your friends who are recently divorced!