Movies, TV shows, songs, plays, even commercials are all selling love. Actually, “selling” is kind of a soft word, it’s more like they’re pushing it on us. They’re like drug pushers – they’re love pushers! And while I’m more the cheesy action fan myself, I’ve seen enough romantic comedies to understand why so many people believe that romantic love makes the world go ’round.
From Jerry Maguire’s “you had me at hello”, to Johnny’s “nobody puts Baby in the corner”, and Mr. Darcy’s “you’ve bewitched me body and soul” (yes, I’m aware this line would be really creepy if said in this century)… you get the point. We’ve been conditioned to believe that life and true happiness starts when your prince charming walks (or gallops) into your life. According to Hollywood, love equals happiness. And I’m not here to refute that logic, but after many a long conversation with single friends feeling the pressure, I decided to address the issue. Let’s consider for a moment that perhaps romantic love does not equal happiness. I’m not an expert on happiness, but if you want my opinion (and since you’re reading my blog, I’ll assume that you do), here are my tips on the subject.
1. Be happy with yourself. This is obvious and should be relevant whether in a relationship or not. Whether you are newly-single, looking to be in a relationship, or are intentionally single for a time, you are most likely a pretty decent human being. But since I don’t know who you are, I can’t say that for sure. Regardless, learning to be happy with who you are can be a long process and not quite as simple as it sounds, but figure it out – nothing will be worth it if you don’t.
2. Keep active. An added bonus to being single means that you can be as selfish as you want in this regard – your time is your own so make the most of it. Take up hobbies and try new things. I like to read and write but in the past I’ve also taken up cooking, running, climbing, hot yoga, and more. I’m also a huge movie fan so going to the cinema is a regular thing for me as well. If you’re uncomfortable seeing movies alone, find another friend who loves movies as much as you, or find a small indie theatre – either no one will notice, or in my experience, there tends to be a lot of singles seeing movies on their own at these places. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Don’t be afraid to do things on your own. This is probably the biggest challenge for sad-singles. Fact: If you don’t do the things you want to because you don’t want to do them alone, there is a very real possibility you’ll end up on your couch every night. Which, in my opinion is a single’s guide to depression, not happiness. If you’re not sure where to start, make a list of things you might be interested in trying and then put them into action (see point two).
4. Make friends! Perhaps more importantly, make friend groups. This isn’t as lame as it sounds. Making friend groups is a great way to fulfill certain needs. For example, if you’re a music lover, make friends with people who like to go to concerts, or, if you’re religious, make friends at your church who you can have coffee nights with. This logic is also true of team sports and book clubs, if that’s your thing.
5. Have your own “go-to” places. This is easier if you’ve lived in the same place all your life, but if you’re like me and are constantly traveling, I try to find cafes, restaurants, theatres (or usually, libraries), to frequent. I try to get to know the names of the employees and before long, it feels like a home away from home. These places also come in handy for the nights you just don’t want to be alone in your apartment.
6. As the old song says, go find somebody to love. As much as you may want to ignore it, love is fundamental to your happiness, but this doesn’t have to be romantic love. This can be evident in your relationships with friends, family, God, or even strangers. Try spreading the love by doing some volunteer work. As silly as it may sound, on some of my lonely days in Malawi (they will happen), I would visit the animal shelter near my work in Blantyre and play with the dogs, they didn’t get many visitors and the puppies were just so eager to have someone around. Those little guys instantly lifted my spirits.
I want to make a note here that you should be fully aware of the reasons why you are committing to being single. You don’t have to justify them to anyone else but yourself, but you should know what they are. If you’ve been hurt or heartbroken, being single for a while might seem like a good idea but you shouldn’t live in the past. I encourage you to use this time to heal and move on. Whatever your reasons may be, keep them in mind for the day when they may no longer be relevant. Committing to a single life doesn’t mean that you have to turn away every Romeo. If you’re interested, don’t turn him down just on principal. Being single is meant to feel like freedom, not a prison, so learn to appreciate it.