From steamy romance novels to rom-coms, the “if you’re single, you’re doomed” narrative depicts relationships as the ultimate key to happiness. There’s so much pressure to be in a relationship that it’s often regarded as the only way to feel complete. That’s ridiculous. Read on for ways to combat loneliness and embrace your singlehood to create a life you love, regardless of your relationship status.
The lowdown on life as a single woman
Single women are happier than their married peers. That’s not just something they tell themselves to feel better for being solo, it’s actual science. A study by data analysts Mintel found that 61% of women are happy being single and 75% of single women haven’t been actively dating or looking for a relationship for the past year.
Relationships are hard work and women tend to do most of it. Perhaps one of the biggest upsides to staying solo and the reason women are so much happier that way is that we tend to do most of the heavy lifting in relationships. “There’s evidence that women spend longer on domestic tasks than men and I think they also do more emotional work — so they still do more housework and cooking and things as well as more emotional labor,” Professor Emily Grundy, of the University of Essex, told The Telegraph.
Being a single woman doesn’t mean being alone. One of the reasons so many single women aren’t really bothered about a romantic relationship is because we have so many other amazing people and things in our lives to keep it full. “Women tend to be better at having alternative social networks and other confidantes whereas men tend to rely quite heavily on their wives for that and have fewer other social ties,” says Dr. Grundy. “Certainly there’s a common finding from a lot of studies that women who don’t have a partner tend to do more social activities and more friends compared to women with partners whereas with men it’s the reverse — men without a partner tend to do much less of that.”
Single women live longer too. Professor Paul Dolan of the London School of Economics, a leading happiness research expert, has found that not only are single women happier than those who are married and have kids, but they also enjoy longer, healthier lives. While coupling up is beneficial for many men as it helps them “calm down,” the same can’t be said for women. “You take less risks, you earn more money at work, and you live a little longer. She, on the other hand, has to put up with that and dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children,” Dolan told Elle Australia. “You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children—’Bless, that’s a shame, isn’t it? Maybe one day you’ll meet the right guy and that’ll change.’ No, maybe she’ll meet the wrong guy and that’ll change. Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner.”
How to create a life you’ll love
Start a Gratitude Journal. Practice noticing the good aspects of your life and singlehood. Multiple research studies have shown that acknowledging gratitude and being thankful has measurable benefits for just about every area of our lives, from feeling more happier and boosting immunity and health. Every day set a time to write down a few things for which you feel grateful for, no matter how big or insignificant they may seem. The goal is to notice and give thanks for a person, event, thing, or moment, and then notice the positivity that you’ll feel after practicing the daily ritual for a few weeks.
Practice Self-care. Take time to treat yourself. Instead of waiting to be asked out, take yourself out on that dream date. Utilizing the five senses during self-care can be empowering and beneficial to your health. For example, for touch, you could take a warm bath or for smell, you could light a candle to self-soothe. Take time to make a list beforehand of self-care ideas that you could do when you start to feel lonely or need a pick-me-up. Research has shown that engaging in a self-care routine can improve your quality of life and well-being in the long run.
Grow your support network. One of the most important factors to long-term happiness and to help you embrace being solo is having a strong support network. Simply put, a support network is a group of people made up of friends, family, and peers that you can connect with and turn to for encouragement. To help you feel less isolated and lonely, especially when you are single, consider joining a club or organization to meet people that share your interests to grow your support system.
Build your confidence. Use your time solo to help boost your confidence. Confidence is the belief in yourself and your own abilities and strengths and can be a key component when you’re ready to get back to dating. Before you jump back into the dating world, find ways to cultivate your confidence so you feel more secure in yourself. To improve your confidence, find time to practice positive self-talk, and create ways to develop self-compassion by being kind to yourself. This can also mean to stop comparing yourself to others. Consider taking time to create a list of things that you love about yourself, whether it’s a characteristic of your personality, a physical trait, or a quirk that sets you apart from other people. Refer back to this list when you are feeling down and need self-assurance.
Get outside. Take a mental health day and get outside in the sunshine. Numerous studies have shown that taking time to enjoy nature can have a positive effect on your mental and physical health. Find an activity you actually enjoy, whether it’s hiking, biking, or a simple stroll around the neighborhood. Join a group that matches your exercise of choice and you’ll be amazed at the impact raising your heart rate can have on your overall well-being.
Indulge in hobbies you enjoy. To create a life you love, set aside time for yourself to pursue activities you enjoy. One of the biggest benefits of being solo is having the freedom to explore new hobbies or interests. Hobbies are a great outlet to release stress, unwind from your daily routine, and learn a new skill. Now is a great time to step outside your comfort zone and finally take that class you’ve been eyeing. By exploring your passions, you might discover a talent you didn’t know you had, foster new connections along the way, and add even more interesting parts to your personality.
Set Goals. When we’re in a relationship, we often don’t take time for ourselves and the goals we want to accomplish. Take this alone time to make a list of short-term and long-term goals. Then, break these goals into smaller, more manageable steps. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish and achieve, without placing such an importance on romantic relationships and status.
Volunteer. Volunteer for a cause or issue that you’re passionate about. For example, if you want to help animals, sign up to volunteer at your local animal shelter. You’ll get a boost of happiness in addition to building professional skills. Not only are you giving back to your local community, but you might meet a group of like-minded people that share your interests. And you never know, you might even meet a potential match while volunteering for the greater good.
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