I love dating. From Hinge and Bumble to speed dating and singles night at the local health food grocery store (yes, it’s a thing) — you name it, I've tried it. I very much enjoy the pattern of casually dating around. As a genuine curious spirit, I am content with this cycle of having multiple partnerships and experiences. But when I tell people I am 27 years old and have never had a serious relationship, I find many people respond with the one thing you should never tell a single person: “Aw, that’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with that, your time will come!”
Yes, so often being single brings a pity party I never invited into my atmosphere. Thank you, Nancy, I appreciate the reassurance that there’s nothing wrong with me, but please stop telling me my “time” will come. As it turns out, I am actually not anti-relationship or afraid of commitment, I am simply living my life the way I want to live it. For me, dating around has exposed me to many different types of people, places, and activities. I continue to explore what I value in a partner and am grateful for every experience, good or bad, because it’s guiding me on the path to living my truth.
“One of the biggest benefits to being single is that you learn to truly understand yourself, your preferences, and why you have them; to develop a deep love of life and to fully understand what you enjoy,” says Behavioral Relationship Expert, Tracy Crossley when I sat down with her to discuss embracing the single life and overcoming this type of feedback, which, unfortunately, is all too common. Other upsetting phrases I frequently receive as a single person are, “Have you tried therapy?"; "You’re a pretty girl, why are you single?"; "It’s going to happen when you stop expecting it"; "You’re too independent for a boyfriend.”
So often, there is an emphasis that equates being single to being lonely or unfulfilled, but living unattached actually gives you the freedom to have varying levels of intimacy with different people. It allows time to experiment with who you are, what’s important to you, and it can diversify your perspective in life.
Embracing The Single Experience — & The People You Meet Along The Way
I once dated an older man, who I bonded with over our mutual love for hole in-the-wall cocktail bars and uninhibited sex — which led me to discover some of my now-favorite sexual positions. Funnily enough, at the same time, I was also dating a virgin who was very faith-driven and challenged me to dive deeper into thought, emotion, and creativity. While nothing serious came of either relationship, I still value those two experiences equally and have grown tremendously because of them. “The more courage you have to be accepting of everything about yourself, to be responsible for your choices, to experience more… and to cherish what you give your time to will give you a real sense of empowerment,” Crossley says.
Stepping Outside Cultural Norms & Values
I hear all the time that my “biological clock is ticking,” yet another offensive comment and concept that can actually lead people to choose specific paths in life out of fear. If you are worried about having children but haven’t met the right person to procreate with, it then becomes important to understand your body and what the biological clock actually means (talk to your doctor or check out at-home tests like EverlyWell). More importantly, it's crucial to know your options. Freezing your eggs, hiring a surrogate, going to a sperm bank, adoption, or having a baby with a friend are all very common solutions to consider if you choose to have children. “No one should ever settle,” Crossley says. “It leads to unrest, dysfunction, and eventually the deterioration of the relationship. You will (most likely) second guess yourself and your ability to trust your life choices in general when you choose out of fear.”
Settling into a commitment that doesn’t feel good to you because society says it’s time, or rather — having a relationship for the sake of having babies can make you lose sight of yourself. Some believe if they get married, life will fall into place. Perhaps it will, but getting married is not the only path to real happiness. “No one should ever do anything because of what society says to do," says Jamie Bronstein, Licensed Therapist and Relationship. "When we do things based on shoulds we are operating out of fear. We should always operate from love. Make the choice that comes from your heart, your integrity. Remember, you are the expert of you.”
Emotional Landmines You Should Avoid When Dating
While I am enjoying my current single, empowered dating life, I’ve learned and am working on being aware of any feelings or red flags that arise from staying in this comfort zone.
- Perfectionism: The idea of possibly choosing the wrong partner will keep your walls up
- Fear of rejection: Trust yourself, that you have the emotional resiliency to handle disappointment
- Avoidance: When you resist anything that signals emotional intimacy, be honest with yourself and your emotions
- Past relationships: Revisit what happened and what you felt so you can properly recover
It is deeply rooted in today's culture that being single is the result of something negative the person is doing, which is entirely untrue. By recognizing the social pressures at play — whether you’re single or in a relationship, the language can slowly start to shift from being a pity party to an enlightening conversation about self-awareness. When you embrace solitude, you are more open to growth, allowing the space to uncover your passion and purpose.