Part 3 - Myths About Being Single
Look at the prejudices and stereotypes many people have about being single. Almost nothing positive is ever assumed about singles. Our own negative attitudes lead to fears and anxieties about being single. That is why a positive attitude is your first line of defense. Because of the many prejudices society has against singles, it’s easy to believe that being single is boring, sad, depressing, unfulfilling, and a negative experience that should be avoided. These unrealistic statements only serve to make the problem some have with being single worse. If you believe such statements, then you have probably pursued relationships for the wrong reasons. Remember that you have to be happy with yourself first. However, it’s difficult not to buy into these myths. The first step is to recognize the myths and realize they are not true. Then we have the opportunity to resist them by being examples of happy singles. Think about your prejudices towards being single. What negative thoughts do you have?
Let’s pick apart some common myths about being single:
• Singleness equals loneliness.
This is simply not the case. The only single people who claim to be lonely are those who choose to be lonely. One of the reasons why singleness seems so scary is because of the term itself: Single. It has almost become a swear word in today's society. It creates the image of a lone person, going through life with no friends and no family. Is this what you think of when you hear the word "single?". “Being single” only means the lack of a marriage or dating partner. To call yourself lonely when all you lack is one person in your life is irrational. A lonely single is actually a selfish single because their focus is on themselves instead of on others.
• A relationship will help me feel better about myself.
A relationship is not an insurance policy for happiness, satisfaction, or fulfillment. A relationship will not magically solve or cover up your problems. Forget about all the perfect-couple images painted by the media. Relationships actually magnify existing problems and create new ones. Part of being in a relationship is learning how to solve problems. If you can't solve problems on your own, you won't be able to do so with someone else.
If you don’t feel good about yourself, then you need to work on that before seeking a relationship, as people generally don’t look for someone with low self-esteem. One of the key points that I state here several times is that you must be happy with yourself first. The purpose of entering into a relationship is to share yourself with another person; not to try to get from someone else what you feel lacks in yourself. Relationships (romantic and other) can't be all "take" - you have to give as well. Expecting someone else to fill your voids usually results in disappointment, a sense of failure, and resentment. The way you feel about yourself is apparent to others, and if you seek a relationship hoping that the other person will somehow improve you, you will actually end up driving that person away. You have to be happy with yourself before you can expect to get along with others. If you believe that you cannot be happy on your own, you will be less confident and more dependent on others for your happiness.
If you feel trapped by singleness and are looking for someone to rescue you, then you need to first work on becoming content as a single person and gaining more confidence in yourself. Become successful as a single first before worrying about success in relationships. If you’re not content with being single, then you probably won’t be content with a relationship either. Don’t make your happiness dependent on whether you are in a relationship or not. Life is too short to spend a majority of it feeling depressed over something within your control. You already have the key to unlock the singleness trap. You just have to choose to use it.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.”
• If I’m single and can’t find anyone, it means something is wrong with me, or that I’m a failure.
Being single can be very unsettling and can certainly make people ask themselves, “Is there something wrong with me?” The answer is no. Every one of us has something wrong with them. Nobody on this planet is perfect.
Failing at something does not make you a failure. Regardless of how many times you have attempted and failed, it does not mean anything is wrong with you. It simply means that there are changes that need to be made. However, you should try to look at what you have done and make an effort to change what you know isn’t working. Use this time to take an inventory of yourself and see if there are any personal areas you think you could improve in.
One site I came across used the analogy of a baby trying stand up by himself, hanging onto a table leg, and can't stand up. He tries it many times, many ways, until he can stand up. The result is that everyone around is proud of the baby accomplishing his goal. If the baby had not achieved the goal of standing up, would you think there was something wrong with the baby? Would you think he was a failure? So, why do we as adults think that we are failures when we find something harder to do later on in life? Just like a baby can learn the new concept of standing on his own, you can learn the new concept of being happy as a single person.
• Being single is unacceptable and I must be in a committed relationship as soon as possible.
You might think that committed relationships and marriage are the ideal lifestyle, but it’s not the only lifestyle. If you believe that being single is unacceptable, then you will end up seeking relationships just because you want one, because “it’s the thing to do”, or because “everyone’s doing it.” This often leads to unhealthy relationships, unnecessary stress, a worsened self-image, and emotional burnout. You are your own person. Your decisions should not be based on what everyone else is doing. Remember when your mother would say, "If everyone was jumping off a cliff..."?
David Hawkins wrote this in an article of his: "There is a faux love going around – attachment hunger. Or, what I like to call, the surge leading to the urge to merge. In these cases, loving feelings take on an urgency and desperation and therefore, instead of leading to 'enlarging and changing the self,' lead to distortion and narrowing of the self. This difference – that a loving passion enlarges us while an addiction inevitably diminishes us – is a crucial distinction."
Bottom line: Being single is not unacceptable by any means. What's unacceptable is seeking a relationship for the sole purpose of having one. It's also selfish.
• Singleness is meant to be a “waiting period” for finding the right person.
This may be true for some, but it’s not an across-the-board fact. If this is made the main focus of singleness, it actually becomes overwhelming. You may have heard the term “waiting for the ship to come in.” That creates the fallacy that one day, you will find that special person and then your life will suddenly become meaningful. The idea of “waiting” can give you the false impression that something is missing. This can have a serious negative impact on your life. You may put off certain plans and aspects of your life until you happen to meet someone. As time goes on, you’ll realize that you have been wasting your life away. It may get to the point where your only goal in life is to find someone, and you'll find yourself feeling unmotivated to take care of other things. Don’t put your life on hold just because you are single. You are the only one that decides how you will live your life. You can make the most of it, or you can let it waste away; it’s your choice. None of us knows what is going to happen in the future, and if you are presently single, this is a time of opportunity for you. Your singleness is what you make of it. It can be a good experience if you want it to be. So, instead of wasting time just waiting around for the “right one”, use your time as a single to get to know the person that is responsible for making you happy – that’s you.
• Accepting singleness is giving up or admitting defeat.
Accepting singleness is not a defeat; it’s a victory. Despite the way it sounds, accepting singleness does not mean resigning the rest of your life to an unhappy state of being single. Accepting singleness means that you have conquered your fears and anxieties about being single. It shows that you do not buy into the myths and stereotypes about being single. It is not easy to accept singleness and many people think they can’t do it, or will even refuse to do it. When you accept singleness, you are declaring that you are strong enough to do life on your own, and that you don't need another person for a crutch. It shows that you are independent. Accepting singleness means you can resist the constant feeling of needing to be a part of a couple, regardless of the influences around you. You are making the most of this time in your life instead of wasting time in unnecessary despair. Lastly, and most importantly, it means that you are happy with who you are.
• There are no advantages to being single.
As much as I didn’t want to use tired old clichés in here, the saying “every cloud has a silver lining” applies here. Remember that there are two sides to being single. As I mentioned earlier, it's easy to focus exclusively on the negative aspects of being single. This can lead us to the false notion that there are no advantages to being single. The fact of the matter is that there are advantages to being single, some of which are described in next section.