“Is it normal to be single for a long time?”
My friend Logan asked me that question recently, and I’ve been thinking about it.
Here’s my answer:
And not only is it normal, it’s potentially a very positive thing.
Here’s why it’s normal to be single for a long time
Our society is obsessed with status and labels.
Many of us are raised from a young age to believe that outer success equals inner success.
This applies to our job, wealth, physical looks, and also – yes – our relationships.
Being single is seen as a curse or kind of disability.
Don’t get me wrong:
Being single can be related to being depressed, mental health challenges, or giving up on life.
But it can also be deeply empowering and a real advantage.
The difference lies in how you use it.
Being single can be your worst curse or your greatest blessing, but the benefits are definitely worth your time to pay attention to.
Here are the benefits of being single for a long time
1) Becoming the best you
One of the best things about being single for a long time is that it gives you lots of opportunities to work on yourself.
Relationships can look full of glitz and glamor from the outside, but even the best ones are full of frustration and disappointment.
And even a match made in heaven involves compromise and less time for yourself.
Being single gives you the one superpower all couples and parents long for: free time!
Being single isn’t just about finding inner peace or being mentally stable, it’s also a genuine chance to have the time and focus to work on your physical fitness as well.
Couples – on average – are fatter.
“A survey by UK researchers found that 62% of respondents gained 14 pounds or more after beginning a relationship. This weight gain appears to be a direct consequence of typical date-night activities.
When asked to choose their primary bonding activity, 30% of respondents chose ‘watching television’ and 20% chose ‘eating out.’ If you’d like to concentrate on improving your mind and body, then singlehood might be for you.”
2) Learning to never settle
Many people you see around you who jump in and out of relationships like they’re stuck in a popcorn maker are doing one main trick:
Not being irresistible;
Not having a secret romance formula;
Not having amazing luck;
One of the bad sides of being single for a long time is that you run the risk of becoming a perfectionist for whom nobody is ever good enough.
But on the other hand, one of the major upsides is that you learn to never settle.
Unlike those who run from relationship to relationship, you’ve learned to hold your ground and be comfortable with yourself.
“Hope for love, pray for love, wish for love, dream for love…but don’t put your life on hold waiting for love.”
She’s exactly right. Being single can be your biggest power booster.
And that inner strength and comfort in being alone will save you from many horrible relationship disasters and wrong turns that you otherwise might have made.
Because you’ll have time to fully know what you’re looking for and hold out and focus on your own life until you find it.
As Berkely International Matchmakers notes, being in a relationship often involves compromise that can seriously set you back in your life and career goals:
“Whether it’s ditching your workout for a date or holding off your master’s degree in a far-off university because you don’t want to move away from your partner, personal goals are easily put on the back burner.”
3) Pursuing authenticity and self-sufficiency
Being single gives you nowhere to hide.
You can spend extra time or work, at the gym, with friends, or with family, but at the end of the day, you’re left with one constant partner: yourself.
The great thing about this is that being with yourself can be a blessing, not a curse.
Not only can you learn to enjoy being around yourself and those close to you without needing romantic intimacy and validation…
It can actually become very empowering.
You become the most authentic person you can be, and seek out a can-do attitude instead of looking at what’s wrong.
Ironically, this proactive approach often draws a new partner towards you as well, because the world senses innately that you’re a person with more to give than you want to take…
And that’s powerful.
Important research by Professor Elyakim Kislev at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem shows that being happy when you’re single depends a lot on how you use your time.
While some single folks felt left out, resentful, and left behind, others “took responsibility for their lives and were satisfied with their social ties as a substitute for marriage,” according to Kislev.
4) Earning more income
This should probably be even closer to the top:
When you’re in a relationship it’s expensive.
When you’re single you have more time to earn that bread.
I’m no materialist, but in this ol’ world of ours, money is important.
Without money, idealism and good intentions can have a hard time taking flight; with money, your wildest dreams and intentions can begin to manifest.
When you’re single for a long time it gives you potentially lower expenses and more room to be in control of all your finances.
This gives you the chance to start building a personal empire and career that will make you proud for years to come – and provide the kind of nest egg that will make your future partner swoon.
Now none of us want to end up with someone who loves us for money – I get that – but money definitely doesn’t hurt!
5) More time for friendships
When you’re in the thick of a relationship, friendships tend to fall to the side.
Or you get that even weirder variety: couple friendships.
Based on past experience: no thanks!
Here’s the thing:
Being single gives you time to focus on non-romantic friendships (or even romantic ones, hey, I’m not judging).
Friendship is a situation where you don’t have to stress about the drama and heartache of relationships…
It’s a place you can be yourself and stretch out a little.
“A study published in the journal Contexts found that people who had always been single were more attentive to their friends and family than married people,”
“According to research published in the journal Information, Communication & Society, single people also have a more diverse range of people they consider close friends. They also apparently put in more effort to keep sibling relationships strong.”
6) Respecting the time of others
One thing I’ve noticed about many of my friends who are often in long relationships is that they come out of them really emotionally beaten up.
They’re traumatized, sad, and – frankly – a little worse for wear.
They’ve just spent months and maybe years with people they didn’t even love but who made them feel that much more awful about themselves and their life.
Their next relationship pushes them that extra mile until they’re even more ground down and then: guess what…
They find someone that seems good on the basics and they settle even though they’re not in love!
One of the worst things about serial relationship people is that they don’t respect the time of others.
As harsh as it sounds, those relationships where couples stay together despite knowing they’re wrong for each other are wasted time.
They’re also times that both people are “off the market” and keeping someone else lonely.
Staying single until you meet someone you really like shows respect for others’ time.
7) Learning to recognize your own value
One of the best things about being single for a long time is learning to recognize your own value.
You no longer seek validation or celebration around you and begin to drill down to the real purpose of our time here on this planet: putting our energy and efforts into productive and cooperative tasks.
You begin to see being single for what it is:
Not a symbol of being outcast or unwanted, but a symbol of a larger purpose related to all humanity.
Not a sign of weakness or being blemished, but a sign of rarity.
“When asked why I am single, my reply is simply; I consider myself a black pearl rare in my authenticity, adding a mysterious beauty to the select few who can recognize & even fewer who appreciate my worth.
So instead of dating, I throw myself into working in the field. If my Boaz recognizes me amongst the black rocks…great!
If not, the magnificence of my rarity will simply radiate onto those working the fields as well in the form of teaching, which is what I do.”
What is exactly the most beneficial attitude of all!
8) Practicing radical self-honesty
Like I said at the beginning, being single isn’t always a cakewalk, and sometimes it can point to issues you have to work through.
But here’s the secret:
Everyone has issues they have to work through.
And doing so in intense relationships actually just makes it even messier because the equation gets twice as complex and tied up in other people’s drama.
Practicing radical self-honesty as a single man or woman cuts through all the bullshit and gives you the superpower of always telling the truth to yourself.
This will guide you so well in every avenue of life.
And one of the biggest truths you’ll learn is that being single does not have to mean being lonely.
“Even when you’re single, you’re never really alone. You’re still in a relationship with yourself.
So spend your single years getting to know who you are, what you like, and what you want out of life,”
writes Elizabeth Entenman, adding:
“The more you can get to know yourself, the more you will fall in love with yourself, and the easier it’ll be to get to know and love someone else in the future. Having a romantic relationship isn’t always all it’s cut out to be.
Living a full vibrant single life is much more fulfilling than only being in a meaningless relationship.”
9) It makes you more desirable
As someone who used to often feel insecure about having mainly been single for long periods of time, I was surprised by a recent admission from my girlfriend.
When she started dating me and found out I had been single for a long time and focusing on my career and self-development she found it really hot.
I thought for sure she was just buttering me up, because like I said it’s something I’ve been insecure about for quite a while.
But she really meant it.
“Being alone has given you ample time to realize what’s important and what’s not. You don’t let yourself get distracted by drama or silly things, and always have your eye on moving forward toward your goal. If only everyone could have that crap in order.”
As Chatel goes on to note, the time alone – if used correctly – actually makes a potential partner more self-sufficient, responsible, and less needy.
This is why being single for a long time can be such a blessing in disguise.
It actually gives you time to realize your own power and potential and bypass the wasted years and divorces and horror stories that other people build up in their search for external fulfillment and finding another person to plug the hole they feel inside.
What about the bad sides of being single?
There’s plenty of bad sides to being single if you let them be bad.
What I can say about loneliness and feeling left behind due to long periods of being single is that it’s OK to feel that and accept that you feel that.
Just don’t focus on it or indulge in it and let it become part of your inner narrative and “story.”
There is always some benefit to be gained if you know where to look, and if you knew for certain that you’d meet the love of your life in two months you wouldn’t think of being single the same way.
What if I told you that – in a way – the real love of your life is you?
Pretty profound right…
But actually, it’s true. And the path to finding true love and intimacy is all about integrating and loving yourself at the same depth that you crave for the world or another person to do so.
This isn’t some emotional thing about positive self-talk or coming up with how you’re not really that bad.
It’s about change on a cellular, deep level…
Change you can feel in your bones and love you can hold on to with certainty:
I am worth it;
I am enough;
I am here and I’m truly excited about my life journey!
You won’t have to talk yourself up or try to fake it, because the enthusiasm for life will really be pouring out of you in everything you do.
And even the times of despair and rage will have a value and worth to them and all be part of the process.
Part of your growth far away from victimhood or the search for perfection and deep into the roots of real-life and finding real love.
Making the most of the single life
We’re bombarded with so many messages daily that prey on our instincts:
Sex, food, mansions, fast cars, makeup, anti-aging…
And yes, love…
That most elusive of experiences that all the bards sing about and the movies keep shoving in our face.
But by presenting love as a kind of emotional consumer product, marketing gurus have warped our minds.
Love isn’t something you get; it’s something you give.
Love isn’t something you look for; it’s something that shines through at just the right time and soaks into your pores like a jungle mist or a mountain sunrise…
The single life isn’t always aces, but it’s rarely as dark as it looks.
And if you find the bright spots you’ll soon realize that this solo journey is an amazing ride!
Like the singer Lana del Rey says:
“Who are you? Are you in touch with all of your darkest fantasies? Have you created a life for yourself where you can experience them? I have. I am fucking crazy. But I am free.”
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.