Some people choose to live the single life forever.
It’s nice to have a partner you can cuddle with at night, but some people are convinced couples in long-term relationships are secretly miserable. Being single isn’t always a walk in the park, though. Especially when movies and television shows constantly seem to push the concept that you aren’t truly “complete” until you’ve found a significant other. People’s single lives are often portrayed as a sort of purgatory that they are forced to endure until they eventually find their soul mate. In fact, one 2008 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that single people are often thought to be unhappy by others.
But some experts say these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth. Another 2008 study also found that single people self-reported levels of well-being that were similar to their counterparts that are in relationships. And there are plenty of benefits that come with living your life free of a romantic relationship.
Listed below are six ways being single can improve your life, according to experts.
1. Your Mind Isn’t Cluttered – Relationships are mentally expensive. Believe it or not, intimacy and partnership take up lots of space in our heads. Even though much of this is happening unconsciously, there’s simply a lesser capacity for individually focused thought. Small things like worrying about our partners and, at times, ruminating on even the smallest quarrels, can inhibit people’s happiness and prevent them from living in the now. Being single is an act of purging the clutter and making room for new thoughts (and dreams) to breathe and grow.
2. Time To Get In Touch With Yourself – At times, people in relationships say they’ve lost themselves, and that’s large because we stop doing things independently. In relationships, people risk losing touch with themselves because they have less time alone to focus on their own personal development. Relationship expert Dr. Dardashti says a common complaint she hears from patients in relationships is that they’re feeling out of touch with their creative sides. When you’re single, you have more room for creativity. She says anyone can be creative AND be in a relationship, but for the average person, it’s hard to balance those two.
3. A Chance To Figure Out What You Want Out Of Life – Clinical psychologist and author Dr. Jenny Taitz looks at being single as your chance to figure out your own personal “mission statement.” She says it’s the critical time to figure out who you are and what you stand for. “When we’re not in a relationship we really have some time to get clear about what matters to us and what we value,” she explains. That is also one of the best times to re-calibrate and reflect on lessons learned from past relationships. What changes do you want to make? What associations, classes, or new attitudes would you like to develop? You now have the time and the ability to focus on the one consistent factor that will create the change you’re seeking.
4. It Could Be The Best-Case Scenario – Being in a relationship isn’t always the optimal choice for everyone. “If we think of three options, one option is to be happy when you’re single, another option is to be unhappy in a relationship, another option is to be unhappily single,” says Dr. Taitz. “Being single and happy seems like the only viable option for someone who’s looking for love and is not finding it.” To truly become happily single, Dr. Taitz suggests practicing mindfulness. “So much of happiness has to do with living in the present moment,” she says. Doing this will enrich other aspects of your life as well. “If you’re spending your single time ruminating about how you’re going to meet someone or what’s wrong with you, you miss that opportunity so you really want to be single with smart headspace.”
5. A Chance To Become Financially Responsible – One perk people often attribute to relationships is the ability for both partners to share responsibilities and financial burdens. However, experts say that being single can actually incentivize you to be more frugal and financially independent. “Sometimes when you’re single and don’t share expenses with someone else, you push yourself to advance and to be resourceful because you’re not relying on someone else to cover your expenses,” says Andrea Syrtash, relationship expert and author of He’s Just Not Your Type (And That’s a Good Thing). “This can be a great thing for your career and life.”
6. You Can Make Self-Care A Priority – Partnership can be wonderful. It’s great to have someone with whom you can share your ups and downs. But when single, you’re required to focus on the areas of your life that need attention. Areas such as working out, socializing with friends, taking time to focus on personal aspirations, and spending time alone – often get pushed aside in relationships amid our need to assist others. While single, no distraction pulls us away from our own self-care and personal development.