Come the fuck on, Bridget.
Over the last few weeks, I've been dishing out advice in my "How To..." series. We've looked at How To... Be NOTHING Like Christian Grey, How To...Spot Warning Signs In Your Relationship and of course, How To...Be Loved Up Without Annoying Your Single Friends. It's been quite the journey. Today, as promised, we're going to look at How To...Be Happy Being Single! Because, despite the fact that today is Valentine's Day and the entire world seems to be stuffing romance down your throat as though it's the most important thing in life, being single is actually okay. It's not unhealthy, it doesn't mean you're unlovable and it's not the worst thing that could happen to you. So, whether you're single by choice, or single because of some series of unfortunate events (did you go out with Lemony Snicket?!), this is the blog for you. And hey, if you're all loved-up, maybe this is also the blog for you, too. It's a lesson the whole world needs to hear now and then, after all.
So, how can you be happy being single? Here's how...
1. Get to know - and love - YOU.
It was, but go for it. You won't actually go blind.
The great thing about being by yourself is that you don't have any pressure to behave a certain way in order to impress a partner. Want to watch Les Mis in your pyjamas at two o'clock in the afternoon until you have a combination of tears, mascara and snot all over your face? Go for it. There's nobody there to judge you (there's also nobody there to hug at the end, but that's what cushions, cats and dogs were invented for).
Having time by yourself allows you to do the things that you want. And the more you do that stuff, the more you start to realise what it is that makes you tick. I'm a self-confessed over-analyser, but I will happily admit to spending much of the time I have to myself, pondering who I am and why I react to things in the way I do. I'm not having an existential crisis or anything, I'm just getting to know me. The more you get to know yourself, the more you understand yourself. And the more you understand yourself, the less hard you are on yourself, because you get it. The upshot of all of this navel-gazing is that you eventually become a much more rounded person, who knows what (s)he wants out of life and that can only be a good thing if and when a romantic partner eventually comes along.
I mean, think about it. If your self-analysis has caused you to realise that you're someone who's very sensitive, it makes sense that you might want to avoid choosing a particularly tactless, aggressive type of person to get shacked up with. Getting to know yourself means you inevitably get to know what sort of partner you would be best suited to and hopefully, that will mean that when you next dip your toes in the dating waters, you'll be better prepared. Like a Scout.
Following on from that...
2. Remember that it's better to be single than in a bad relationship!
Whenever I feel a bit down about being single, I remember my last relationship. Regular readers of this blog will know that my ex was, to coin a phrase, an abusive fuckwit. If I'm ever thinking "aw, I hate being alone," I remember what it felt like to lie in bed with him next to me, snapping that I was a "disgusting slut" (for trying to initiate sex), "needy" (for hugging him) and "selfish" (for telling him I loved him - go figure the logic on that one). Nothing - and I seriously mean nothing - feels more lonely than being in a bad relationship.
You might think it's better to at least have a partner, even if it's someone who doesn't make much of an effort to treat you well. To that I say:
You might not believe it at three in the morning, when one side of the bed is cold and you're tempted to text an ex, but it is always, always better to be on your own than try to subsist in an awful relationship, just so you can say you have someone in your life. Put your phone down. Roll onto the other side of the bed. Maybe fart a bit to warm it up. But seriously, don't ever think you'd be better off in a bad relationship.
In case you still don't believe me, I wrote a semi-autobiographical novel about my experience of an abusive relationship and you can buy it here. I'm a million, billion times happier on my own than I was when I was going through that crap every day, believe me.
3. Fill your time with FUN stuff.
A recent bit of "me-time."
From some of the stuff certain "friends" (and I use the term loosely for people like this) have posted on Facebook in the run-up to Valentine's Day, I get the impression that they think single people lead very miserable existences; weeping into their Cheerios in the morning, frowning their way through the working day and then crying themselves to sleep at night whilst listening to Celine Dion.
The fact is, a person is a person, regardless of their relationship status. And as a fully functioning human being, you have the capacity to plan stuff. If you happen to be single, why not plan stuff that's fun? Embrace the fact that you can do literally whatever you want (within reason - don't go getting arrested just to prove to your coupled-up mates how crazy you are).
Have a night out with your fellow single friends (or make your loved-up mates leave their partners at home for the evening). Eat out at a nice restaurant. Go on holiday. Play The Sims all day whilst wearing your pyjamas. Basically, do whatever the heck makes you smile. You don't have time to mope over being single when you're busy making your life as awesome as it can possibly be.
4. Exercise self-care and admit when you need a bit of support.
Last year, someone in a relationship actually mentioned me in her Valentine's post to her boyfriend (in which she uploaded photos of the cards and presents he'd bought her, because nothing says "romance" more than showing that stuff off on social media, obviously). It was basically: "Haha, look, you're single and I'm not." Needless to say, we're not friends, anymore.
It's not healthy to be consumed with rage and bitterness towards couples, but it's absolutely okay to sometimes feel a bit down about your single status, especially on days like today (Valentine's Day, if you're reading this in the future, on a Moon Base or something). If you do feel a bit crappy about not having a card or a present, or even just someone you're so comfortable with that you can fart in front of, maybe today is a good day to avoid the likes of Facebook. You don't need to see that Steve bought Julia a bunch of long-stemmed roses, a box of those chocolates they had for the first time on that holiday they went on last year and a cuddly rhinoceros because oh never mind, it's an in-joke between me and Steve, okay?! So, step away from the website and look after yourself by doing something nice. For me, it's going to involve popping to Tesco to buy red velvet cookies. Yes, they are a thing and yes, you need them in your life.
Also, remember it's totally okay to feel a bit sad at this time of year, or any time of year, for that matter. One of the key ways to be happy being single is, ironically, to accept that there might be days when you're not. When you feel low, talk to someone who'll cheer you up, or do something that makes you feel good. Or, think of that ex who had really bad breath and be grateful you never have to kiss him, again. Something to that effect, anyway...
5. Remember there's more than just ONE form of love!
So, you don't have romantic love in your life. But I bet you have other forms and those are all just as important. Your family, your friends, your pets, even just your casual interests can inspire a form of love. Your life doesn't have to be devoid of emotion or meaning, just because you don't have someone that you get to see naked on a regular basis. Learn to get the most out of the other relationships in your life. Spend quality time with friends. Say "I love you" to people you care about and show it with your actions. Love attracts love and filling your life with other forms of it can be just as meaningful as any other kind of relationship.
At the end of the day, the most crucial thing to remember is that you have to get to know yourself and ideally like yourself, too. Not because "you can't expect someone else to love you if you don't love yourself" or other such cliches, but because it's important. You're you and you're the only version of you that there is, so rather than spending your time feeling sad that nobody else appreciates your brilliance in a romantic sense, just go out there and live your life in the best way you can.
If love happens, great. If not, there's always chocolate.