Given this blog started out its life as a place for me to hit the big time as a dating blogger, the title of this post seems a little ironic. However, I have grown and evolved since 2016, and what I really want to achieve with my writing these days is to help others. As this is an area I have made leaps and bounds in this year, I thought I’d share my newfound wisdom with the world wide web.
In the past, I’d fall into one of two categories. I’d either be single, and miserable about it. Or I’d feel more relaxed about it, put dating on the backburner… but then end up not meeting new people. Then stagnate, not learn anything, then fall back into the former category… and the cycle would continue. You get the picture.
The happy place (in my opinion) is to be happily single, and dating responsibly. Sounds like an oxymoron, but it really isn’t, although much easier said than done. But here are some of the practices I use to help stay in alignment.
Colouring myself in
There’s no doubt about it; society is definitely set up for couples. Think about it. We celebrate engagements, hen dos, weddings, baby showers, yet beyond birthdays, nada for single people. I used to spend my days working in jobs I hated, some with a commute from hell, hoping a man would swoop in and save me from the 9-5 and I could spend the rest of my days in homemaking bliss.
But guess what, even with the best will in the world, marriages don’t always last. So you need something else. Now, I want to help others. Through my writing mostly. So that’s my new life goal. These days I work much closer to home, am back by 4.30 every evening, I read, spend time with friends, and as my new Twitter handle suggests, write.
Pruning and cultivating my other soulmates
We’re sold this idea of The One: this one magical person who is the sole solution to all our problems and needs. Yet, studies have actually shown that we need 4-5 people for adequate companionship. Our soulmates aren’t just romantic partners: they’re the best friend you watch football with; the brother you’re close to; the work friend you go to the cafe with.
In the past, I’ve had “friends” that were more like acquaintances, and met my fair share of toxic people. Now I’m pickier about who I spend time with, and have some amazing non-romantic soulmates. Zeyneb, who I have been to cities and counting with after swearing off holidays with friends. Chelsey, the loyal younger sister I never had. David, my writing companion. Emily, my Selco buddy I instantly clicked with. And more.
Not going on dates for the sake of it
I don’t know about you, but I really hate it when people say things like “Give up with dating apps! It’Ll HaPpEn WhEn yOu LeAst eXpeCt It!” Many couples these days meet on an app. However, dating for the sake of dating is not the way forward.
I used to cycle through dates in a process I affectionately referred to as “churning them out.” And guess what, most of them turned out to be a waste of time. I got to the point where I’d resent the £5 I spent on a drink in a bar.
However, a lot of the time, if you slow the process down, you can screen out “duds” over message- or if in doubt pick up the phone. Now, if I’m going to spend an afternoon or evening with someone, I want to at least know I get on with them.
Focus on the journey, not just the destination
The best thing about The Unexpected Joy Of Being Single in my opinion, is that it wasn’t just about being single and happy, it was also about getting better at dating. People think you have to pick one or the other, but the two actually work together.
The other week my brain fell down the “WHY AM I SINGLE I HATE MY LIFE” rabbit hole. But I managed to snap myself out of it by focusing my attention back to personal development. How far I’d come in the past couple of years. Steps I could take to go further.
It’s about the journey, not just the destination. If you go on a couple of dates with someone and they announce they don’t want anything serious, and you make a dignified exit, while in the past you’d have persevered and ended up reliving an early Taylor Swift song, you may not have met The One, but you’ve made progress. So celebrate that. And the great thing about personal development is that it never stops. Even in a relationship, always be growing.
Savour the waiting
Sometimes I think to myself, what if I met the love of my life tomorrow? Part of me gets excited, but then a part of me also thinks “oh damn, I wish I’d done this when I was single!”.
Imagine a fairy has fallen down from the sky and told you you will meet the love of your life in 6 months time. What are the things you’d regret not doing? Do them now. Work on yourself, forge strong friendships, take that solo vacation.
Take pleasure in the small wins. Sometimes I look at my cousin with her husband and two kids and wish that was me, but when I hear about the night shifts she works after spending the day looking after her son, I appreciate my free time, sleep, and fun with friends. You only live once, so cherish each day, regardless of relationship status.
The Unexpected Joy Of Being Single, by Catherine Gray
I recommend this book everywhere because it’s amazing. The author goes back through her life, from the making of a “love addict”, to finally learning to source single joy. The book flips the relationship = happy single = sad narrative on its head, and also explores how to date in moderation and attachment theory.
How To Be Single And Happy by Jennifer L Taitz
This book is written by a psychologist accustomed to treating patients who are at their wits end over their lack of a love life. It delves into how to nix unhealthy habits like ruminating (story of my life) and obsessing over a past love, and building a life you enjoy that’s in line with your values.
Which practices do you use to be single and happy? Let me know in the comments!