Life passages happen in order…usually. Kids grow up, go to school, graduate, go on to college or begin a job, find a partner, get married and have kids. These passages are dictated or expected by society. As society changes these passages may change, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Younger people are marrying later and later, and more and more are remaining single. If you’re a single woman or man over thirty, you may or may not want to marry, but one thing is for sure, you will be asked when you are going to marry. You will actually feel pressure to marry, especially if you are a woman.
I counsel many women who feel defeated, frustrated and judged due to their single status. Exploring their feelings further, it becomes apparent that it isn’t really their life they feel badly about, but the way others perceive them if they aren’t married. They can be the president of a corporation, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher or an artist, but there is a nagging feeling in the back of their mind in regards to their not having a partner.
Experts agree that, especially for women, relationships are important. The key to happiness is not so much marriage, but rather the amount of significant relationships you have in your life. Men too are more and more affected by their relationships, especially after the age of thirty-five. Older men (over 40) tell me repeatedly that it is not the sex they crave, but the intimacy. You can maintain a single lifestyle and have healthy relationships and intimacy in your life.
Clients often ask what is it that causes others to judge their lifestyle as void of meaning just because they are single? This question is complicated because there are many reasons. Parents especially seem to experience a sense of relief when their children are married, because they believe their child will be taken care of and this affords them a sense of peace. Many older people look forward to grandchildren, and assume the next step that when their child is married they will have kids. Parents also may worry if their child is not able to be in a marriage or monogamous relationship with someone else, what it reflects about their own parenting skills. Married friends want other friends to marry because it makes them more comfortable for going out, and enjoying one another during couple activities. There is nothing more threatening than inviting your single friend out with you and your spouse every weekend. Most of the reasons people pressure others to get married are self-serving, but single people being asked why they aren’t married or with someone don’t consider this. They instead judge and criticize themselves as to why they aren’t with someone.
If you opt for the single lifestyle, it is important that you fill your life with friends, relationships and interests or hobbies you love. Every happiness scale includes these three elements for happiness as well as several others. Below are ways you can choose singlehood and have a full, meaningful, and interesting life you love. Technology has changed the way we communicate, but the human heart continues to derive happiness the same as it always has. What we decide in our minds dictates how happy or unhappy our lives are whether single or with someone.
Your attitude and what you choose to believe is a key to living single. If you let others shame you or make you feel less than because you aren’t married, you will make a miserable single person. Build a life others envy instead of pity.
“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln
Live in the present as much as possible. Most single people are happiest when they leave their single status for the future to determine. Plan for your retirement as if you are going to remain single so you will have enough, but live very much in the present. Do each day what you value and love most. We are most attractive and content when we are happy.
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed-door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” Helen Keller
Give back and make someone else happy. Every happiness scale shows the importance of volunteer work. It helps people feel connected, needed and included. Being single, these feelings may be more difficult to make. Therefore, when you focus on helping or giving back to others you complete your need for relationships and inclusion.
Do something or act. Very often when people are asked what made them feel most alive or happy they responded that they took a risk, did something even if they regretted it, or had an adventure. When single people are asked what makes them feel like they are missing something they often say there is no one to do things with. If you are single you have to take adventures, and that can be scary. Join a travel group or singles group. Any group to get you out and do something will help you love your single life more.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Mark Twain
Be grateful. Your relationship status is never as important as your ability to be grateful for what you have. Others cannot resist grateful people. They find themselves wanting to give more, be more and live more. The single one ingredient for being happy single is to be grateful for your life.
No matter if you choose single or not, it will be forced upon you through life at some time. It may not happen until you are old, or it may happen unexpectedly, but it will happen. Knowing who you are, and what makes you happy and feeling good in your own skin, are keys to being happy. You cannot be an effective partner for anyone until you are complete within yourself. Celebrate your singlehood; get to know yourself so when and if you join another, you will have two complete people instead of two halves. –Mary Jo Rapini