For whatever reason, you are living your life uncoupled at the moment. You may be in between many relationships, having just gotten through a major break up or divorce or you are a “lifer” committed to you and only you. For whatever reason, you currently know who left the milk on the counter and are the sole responsible person for making your bed and cleaning the cat litter.
Let’s talk about what’s great about being single, shall we?
A personal sense of empowerment. Complete freedom to be exactly who you are. The time to truly learn about and honor yourself. Then why the hell, does everyone look down on your lifestyle choice (or circumstance) as though you are a lost puppy that needs an owner? People can be well meaning. They assume everyone is happier if they have a partner. Yes, there is research that suggests that if you are married that you tend to live a longer, happier life but that’s not exactly fair is it? I see many people who can’t stand to be single. It makes their skin crawl. They hop right onto match.com before the wounds are even covered from a previous relationship. To me, as a therapist, it isn’t important to me whether you have a partner to go home to or not — it’s all about how you are using this time being single.
If you are crippled by the thought of lonely nights at home and constantly want to only focus outside yourself onto potential partners, I suggest you are not using this time well. Being single means that you have the luxury of time to explore yourself, figure out what you really want as an individual and have some life experiences to figure these things out. I am a firm believer that you only attract partners that are as healthy as you are. Therefore, if you never learn to find peace on your own, why will it be a surprise that you end up in a fucked up codependent relationship with someone who doesn’t appreciate you?
Being alone is scary. It can be hard to learn to live with yourself and love yourself as much or more than you are expecting a partner to but I suggest you take the leap and “date” yourself awhile. This may mean taking classes on your own, joining a book club, going out to eat or to a concert by yourself — basically doing things you normally wouldn’t just for the sake of learning about yourself. Getting into therapy is almost always helpful during this time too. Not fun maybe, but a good way to assist you in not repeating the same negative dating patterns when you are ready to jump back into the game.
I’m the last person who will give a specific amount of time that I think you need to be on your own in relationships. It could be a couple of months or a couple of years. What you want to do is truly listen to your intuition and examine your motives when it comes to coupling back up. Too many people fall into relationships lured by infatuation and the possibility of focusing on someone else. Jeez, it takes the pressure off of working on yourself. If you can learn to trust your own judgement and get into your next relationship free and clear, it won’t matter so much how long that next relationship takes to find you because you’ll be too busy enjoying your own company.
Dr. Kat is the resident sexologist at Adam & Eve and also runs a private practice and media consulting business. She has a Doctorate from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Her professional affiliations include AASECT, SSSS, and the American Board of Sexologists. She also has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and completed a postgraduate degree in Marriage, Family and Addictions Recovery Therapy.
© Copyright Dr. Kathleen Van Kirk