Our author delivers a wonderful manifesto in defence of young singledom. Today’s society is obsessed with relationships and romance, but our author reminds us of the freedom and self-discovery singless can provide. Why not trust yourself for a change?
Let’s be honest with one another here. You clicked on this article because you, too, are single, and are looking for some validation. I wrote this article because I am single. If I had a partner, I probably wouldn’t be writing this article, and I definitely wouldn’t be breaking up with them for some sense of morality or maybe the learning experience. Nevertheless, here we are, and I’m about to outline for you some of the reasons why being single in your twenties, or while you’re at university, or in your youth, or however you want to frame it, isn’t actually so bad.
1. Learning to validate yourself
It can be too easy to lean on relationships. Soon enough, you don’t feel beautiful until your partner tells you you are, you can’t stop being angry about your shit day until you’ve ranted at your partner about it, you can’t stop crying until they soothe you. That’s the problem: losing your self-sufficiency.
Relationships end but your relationship with yourself never will. Being alone forces you to learn how to make sense of your own emotions and work through them like an adult, rather than pushing that responsibility onto someone else. It means that if/when you decide, later on, to get into a relationship, you don’t need them around in order to feel like a whole person. Yes, it’s nice to have someone else who cares about you and wants to look after you, but imagine having that feeling all the time, not dependent on someone else’s presence.
But you can make it for yourself! Put yourself first, learn to validate yourself and work through your own emotions and you’ll feel all the fuller for it. You can be your own primary carer, rather than relying on someone else to do it, and that’s amazing.
2. More time to do the things you want to do
Whenever my relationships have ended in the past, I’ve always been struck by how much time I get back in my day-to-day life. Hobbies, solo beach walks, enough sleep – all these things are sacrificed in the name of spending time with someone else. Ever noticed how you can get to the library way earlier on Saturday mornings if you don’t go out Friday night? This is like that: no relationship (ie. the club), more you (ie. library) time.
Your twenties are when you should be working on yourself, on deciding who you want to be and what you want to be like. Why waste that time working on someone else when you could be doing things you enjoy? When your current relationship ends, you might be forty-three and wish that you’d put yoga classes before working on someone else.
3. Bucking the trend
Sometimes I think the people around me get into relationships for the sake of being in a relationship. It’s a status symbol. Those of us not in relationships must look on enviously as our friends and flatmates cuddle, hold hands, post disgustingly cute Instagrams, and so on. Those in relationships look down pityingly on their single friends, reminding us to just hang in there, your special someone is on their way!
TV shows, movies, and books all tell us the endgame of life is relationships. But is that true? We can be happy without relationships. Everyone’s got that Aunt who never married, or maybe got divorced, and she seems to love the single life, going to book group and knitting sweaters and pottering around her garden. Why shouldn’t we be that cool Aunt? She’s only weird because society says we have to be married by a certain age, grow old with someone. Bullocks. Book group is for everyone.
4. Learning what you actually value in yourself and other people
Getting some space from the whole dating world can give you a lot of insight into yourself. You can learn what you like about yourself, what you want to work on, and it gives you the time to do that. You can see what you’re not great at, and what you might want to look for in a partner when you finally decide it’s the right time for you. You can spend more quality time with your friends (platonic relationships are so undervalued)! You can make new friends too: go to parties and chat to people with no ulterior motive. The world is full of friends you haven’t made yet, and you never know when your new best friend might pop up.
Being single doesn’t mean you have to be celibate, either. Sleep with a few people, see what works for you, see what doesn’t. Try new things with people you might not see again. Sex is fun and doesn’t require a long-term partner. Also, explore yourself. Masturbation is stigmatised, but sexual stimulation is something else you can enjoy alone, learn not to rely on other people for. Literally, at this point – what do you even need a partner for!?
I don’t know if I’ve convinced you. But your twenties should be a good time in your life, a time you look back on through rose-tinted glasses which you then take off, because you don’t need them, you had enough fun then without any retrospective romanticising. Why waste your time being miserable that all your friends have partners, and you don’t? Why let that little stab of disappointment you feel when you go home alone (again) rule your life? Why not revel in yourself, in your youth, in your time and potential? You can do anything, anytime, anywhere, and honestly, a partner would only hold you back. Go get ‘em, tiger.