By Stacey Rose, PhD, LCSW
“One by one they are dropping like flies, “a thirty something year old woman said to her girlfriend, referring to ‘good men’. This is an all too common conversation where people feel pressured to be in a relationship. It can be a challenge to be single in a couples world. “Everywhere I go, I see couples out to dinner, shopping, going to the movies, I just want to be in a relationship!” said one of my clients. I asked her what was so wrong with being single? She proceeded to tell me the following; “It’s not that being alone is so bad, especially when I’m at work and busy with my life. It’s the times at night that I look for companionship or on the weekends when my married friends are busy with their lives that I miss being with someone.” She went on to say how she wonders if she should have stayed in that last relationship, even though it wasn’t so healthy, just to be with ‘someone’.
We explored the pain that she felt as well as her reasons for ending that last relationship. I reminder her about having a healthy relationship with herself and she shook her head knowingly. Being single does not mean there is something wrong with you, it just means that you are single, for now. Being married. or partnered, does not mean you are happy either, it just means you are in a relationship, for now.
So, how do you go from single to partnered? You can choose from a variety of options. First, start with yourself. How well do you know yourself? Take the time that you have as a single person and get to know yourself. Go out to eat by yourself, go to a movie by yourself. Don’t stop living your life just because you don’t have someone at your side. Second, be clear about what your vision of a successful relationship would look like. Look at those around you and identify traits of their relationships that you admire. Make a list of your “requirements” for a healthy relationship. These are characteristics that must exist in the relationship in order for you to be in it. (For example, if you only would date a person who is a non-smoker, this is one of your requirements.) Third, let everyone you know, who really know you, that you are available and if they have any single friends, you are willing to go on a blind date.
Imagine when you were in college and asked to declare a major that you said to the Dean, “I don’t want to do that, my career will come to me.” How ridiculous does that sound? Relationships need to be thought out, planned and prepared for, just like a career. Think about what you want, need and require in a relationship. Plan for it by letting people know, and by putting yourself in situations where you could meet other like-minded people. Prepare yourself by becoming the best “you” you can be, inside and out.