What it really means to be single
As part of The Single Girl's Club online book club read for October, the quote from John Kim’s book 'Single On Purpose' stuck out to me: “We don’t know how to be single.”
And it got me thinking. What does it mean to be single?
According to Kim, it's being okay with being with yourself. When you look up the "single" in the dictionary, it's defined a being alone, unpartnered, or without romantic partnership. And when I took to Instagram and asked some of my followers there was a resounding sense that being single meant being lonely.
To me, being single is the state of being alone, which means independent, and not having the presence or direct influence of other people around you. Whereas being lonely is distinctly different from being alone, where by being lonely means lacking a sense of love and belonging.
For more on loneliness, you can check out past episodes of The Single Girl's Guide to Life podcast and listen to Episodes #6 "Why Am I So Lonely?", #45 "How to Stop Feeling Lonely When You're Single" and #56 "Reasons Why You Feel Lonely When You're Single".
But for today, I want to talk about being single, in the realest terms of what it means, of being alone, unpartnered and fending life for yourself individually.
Being single means being FREE
Doing what you want, when you want is an important and obvious feature of being single, whilst acknowledging there can be some financial and practical constraints, but this element of freedom goes far beyond this.
Being single means that you are living independently of other people, of the pressure and influence they have on you, and the obligation you feel to attend events with your partner. You might still experience elements of this with your family instead, though chances are, you're noticing the energetic shift between when you feel you can do what you want, versus when you feel obliged and, over time, you'll shift towards more of having a choice and leaning into the freedom and autonomy that being single brings.
Around all of this is the general amount of time and energy you have being more than those in relationships. You might choose to fill it with more activities and projects that then make you as busy as your coupled up friends, but day to day, you don't have the time consumption of a relationship, which can be mentally draining to navigate too!
Here's three reflection questions to gauge how much you take the advantage of the freedom of being single:
How do I spend my time?
Do I live my life the way I want to?
What things can I do now that I couldn’t so easily do / without checking in with a partner, if I was coupled up?
Being single means PUTTING YOURSELF FIRST
This can often be mistaken for being "selfish", and that we're selfish for not having children. But your wants and needs are the most important thing when you're single.
Of course, you want to maintain friendships and other connections and that does require compromise to some degree, but the wants and needs of any two people should have a good amount of overlap for a mutual compromise to occur and where a friendship naturally happens because of a compatibility and complementation.
Putting yourself first also means standing up for yourself. You don't have someone protecting you, backing you, or encouraging you as a default. Part of being single means you're going to develop a thick skin to not take everything so personally, and to learn how to communicate your wants and needs which, at times, might upset others but it's about prioritising yourself.
In order to know how to put yourself first, you have to know yourself. You have to develop this sense of confidence in yourself. And it’s very possible that if you aren’t able to do that because you aren’t living the free life as mentioned above because even without a partner, you might be living a life that isn’t for YOU.
Use these three question to reflect on how well you put yourself first:
When was the last time I put myself first?
When was the last time I didn’t put myself first but should’ve?
What do I need to stand up more for myself in?
Being single means BEING OKAY WITH BEING ALONE FOREVER
If you aren’t okay with this concept, I’m afraid you may be living your single life ina state of fear
Being single and living life to the fullest means a full and complete acceptance that your life may stay this way (it’s very unlikely by the way - if you want things to change, you can make them change and even if you’re not trying, life will change things anyway) but being single means
Am I okay with the idea of being alone?
What aspect of being alone do I feel uncomfortable?
How can I make my life as fulfilling as possible even if I’m alone forever?
Listen to the full episode of The Single Girl's Guide to Life with Chantelle the Coach here: