Being twenty-something and single in American society can be exciting, scary, liberating, and lonely – in a word, confusing. On the one hand, friends and relatives will tell you to live it up and experience all that you can before you’re “tied down” with a spouse and kids. But in the same breath they’ll say sympathetically, “I know you’ll find ‘the one’ soon. It’ll be worth the wait.” As though being single were some unfortunate temporary state of being, but if you can push through the misery to find your perfect match waiting on the other side, you’ll finally be welcomed as a full member of society.
So it’s no wonder that, with the constant pressure to find their other half, many young single people want nothing more than to be in a relationship. It’s especially difficult when everyone else in your circle is paired-up and you’re the lone single friend. Spending the majority of your time around happy couples can really pile on the pressure to throw off your single status and dive headfirst into a commitment, whether you’re ready for one or not.
But the truth is, relationships are just like anything else in life: we want what we don’t have. So keep in mind that, while you may desperately want to find your perfect match, your coupled-up friends likely envy your carefree single lifestyle. Instead of wishing for something you believe to be “missing” from your life, why not focus your energy on appreciating your singleness? I promise it’s possible, even if you feel like you’re seeing double everywhere you look.
Instead of resenting your paired-up friends or feeling awkward for always being the third (or fifth or seventh) wheel, focus on the perks of your status as the single friend. Whenever you’re feeling annoyed or lonely, remember all these positives of being unattached:
- You get to flirt! When you go out with your friends, you’re free to flirt with anyone and everyone you meet. And honestly, what’s more fun than flirting? The best part: you don’t have to fight with your friends about who gets the hot bartender – you always get dibs.
- Your time is yours. All the time that your friends are busy doing couple-y things, you can spend doing anything you want. If no one’s available to hang out on a Saturday night, don’t waste the evening moping that you don’t have a date. Instead, use the time to do something you love or work toward a goal of yours, whether it’s getting in great physical shape, starting a blog, or planning a trip to Italy. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend can seriously cut into your free time, but if you’re unattached you can spend that time on you and you alone.
- You get to have all the fun stories. Your friends who are in serious relationships don’t get to flirt shamelessly, or experience the nervous thrill of a first date, or feel giddy at the start of a new relationship. So they’ll want to live vicariously through you. This is your time in the spotlight, and you certainly don’t want to disappoint! (That means a little embellishment is completely acceptable — for the sake of the story, of course.) Take advantage while it lasts and enjoy this rare time when your friends are more interested in your life than in their own.
- You can be more spontaneous. If your coworkers invite you out for drinks after work, you don’t have to text anyone about your last-minute change of plans. Feel like taking a weekend trip to visit your old college roommate? No need to explain yourself or answer anyone’s questions. You can decide to teach abroad for a year or apply for a job across the country without worrying about how you’ll manage a long-distance relationship. Having a significant other certainly doesn’t prevent you from being spontaneous now and then, but when you’re unattached, you never have to pause or check in with anyone before saying “yes” to new plans.
- You’re in a perfect position to expand your friend network. Since your time is completely your own, you can spend it doing activities you love or trying out new ones. By putting yourself in social situations with people who enjoy the same things you do, you’re bound to make new friends. Plus, single people have a way of banding together, so if you let it slip that you’re unattached, you may find yourself with a new friend to spend Friday nights with when all your other friends are cozying up with their SO.
If you’re unhappy being single, you’re more likely to jump into a relationship with someone who may not be a good match for you. Not only is this a waste of your time and emotional energy, but it also means you won’t be available when the right person does come along. When you’re happy with your life, regardless of relationship status, you’ll naturally draw people to you. So stop focusing on what you lack and enjoy the perks of your current situation … because I promise a small part of you will miss it when it’s gone.