My friend Jamie married for the first time in her mid-40s. “I was totally happy and loved being single,” she told me as we chatted over coffee recently. But when she finally met her husband-to-be ten years ago, she was smitten: “He was the most charming and goofy person I’d ever met.”
More people are single than ever before. In Canada more than 25% of homes have only one occupant and the age of marriage is at its historical peak. For some people, like Jamie, being single was a happy experience. But other people are miserable alone and feel they will only be happy as part of a couple.
Jamie never viewed being single as a failing: “The best advice I could give to single people is to get over the fear of being alone. That means developing a better and more positive relationship with yourself. Self-love and confidence are attractive qualities, and perhaps makes you more selective about who you choose to mate with.”
So, what are good ways to be happy solo while you find “the one”? I asked Jamie and a few other friends to chime in.
- Explore Your Community
Living alone doesn’t have to be lonely. One recently separated friend moved to the heart of downtown where there is a vibrant street life, and she can walk to cafes and theaters. She also carefully selected an apartment with a bustling common area. She often hangs out with others watching sports events on television or playing ping pong. While she lives alone in a bachelor apartment, she has a built-in a social life steps outside her door.
- Join Group Activities
Many friends have joined group activities such as ball hockey or dragon boat teams where they have to make a commitment to show up—or risk getting booted out. Inking activities into their calendar ensures they allocate time for exercise and socialization, all good for their physical and mental health. It is too easy to make excuses not to go to yoga class or out for a run when you are not accountable to others, so joining a “group” has proven to be a better strategy.
- Pursue A Purpose With Passion
Being single can make it easier to dedicate more hours to both paid and volunteer work, and pursue a purpose with passion. One friend rejects the notion that people “complete each other.” Rather, she believes that intellectual and financial independence is equally important for both single and married people. Being “married to work” is not a bad thing in her opinion. Finding something you love is as important as finding someone to love—and makes you more interesting to yourself and others.
- Treat Yourself Well
Many people take care of others better than themselves. For example, one survey found that close to 70% of singles only have one home-cooked meal per week. One divorced friend religiously plans, shops and prepares meals and sets the table for one, knowing she feels better when she makes this effort. Being single is also a good time to work on good “mental hygiene,” according to another friend. She believes that addressing one’s issues including managing negative thoughts (like resentments about past failed relationships) perhaps through counselling is critical before entering a new relationship. Becoming psychologically fit and self-confident is good preparation for any new relationship.
Take away? Flying confidently solo is the best flight pattern for finding “the one.”