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Ah, Valentine’s Day. Red and pink heart decorations have been up since the day after Christmas, florists and jewelers everywhere are looking forward to their own Black Friday, and no matter where you turn, it seems that love is in the air. What about the people who aren’t coupled up?
TV, movies, and social media tend to insinuate that most people are in a romantic relationship, and singlehood is often misunderstood as sad, or representing something “missing” in a person’s life.
But being single can be great, and more than 40 percent of the respondents to a recent Student Health 101 survey said they are not currently in a relationship, whether short- or long-term.
So let’s shed a little light on why it’s sensational to go solo.
Plenty of Reasons to Be Single
Lots of people choose singlehood for a multitude of reasons. Some aren’t currently interested in a relationship. Some singles are recovering from a past connection or breakup, while others are waiting for the right person. “I am focusing on myself right now,” say 45 percent of the Student Health 101 survey respondents.
It can be a lot easier to concentrate on school, career, and personal goals without the distraction of dating. In fact, that’s how more than 60 percent of Student Health 101 survey respondents feel, and a 2003 study by Matthew Kopfler at Loyola University-New Orleans, in Louisiana, found that romantically involved students experienced higher stress levels when facing school deadlines than did their non-involved counterparts.
Dean M., a fourth-year student at University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, Canada, agrees. He says, “I found being in a relationship during midterms and finals more stressful.”
Almost 20 percent of Student Health 101 survey respondents say they don’t feel emotionally ready to enter a relationship. Some singletons are just going with the flow. “I didn’t choose [singlehood]. I didn’t not choose it, either,” says Sabrina J., a graduate of Georgia State University in Atlanta. “I’m confident enough in myself to feel like I don’t have to have a guy just to have a guy. If the right one comes along, okay! But it’s not a conscious choice, and it never has been.”
It’s Great to Be on Your Own
There’s plenty to enjoy about single life. Great thing number one? “Freedom,” say Student Health 101 survey respondents say. This is a time to focus on your true one-and-only: you.
When not tied down in a relationship, you may have more time to devote to exploring your likes, strengths, pet-peeves, and challenges.
Focusing on your own needs can help you identify your core values, and how you’d like to apply them. Perhaps you’ll take this knowledge and apply it to school, career plans, or something else that ignites your passion. Self-awareness is also important if you decide that you would like to be in a relationship at some point.
So, if you’re single, create plans to learn new things and better yourself. Embrace this opportunity to concentrate on doing what you want to do with your life.
Rachel A., a junior at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, suggests, “You really get to find out who you are when you are by yourself.”
Spare Me the Romance, But Not the Relationships
You may not be in a romantic relationship, but you still need connection. People who are single can have very fulfilling platonic friendships. Humans are social creatures who rely on friends, family, and loved ones—even if not in love.
It’s important for everyone to form trusting relationships. “Closeness is never instant, for anyone, and takes time to build,” explains Dr. Irene Levine, professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine in New York, New York.
“As you begin to know [someone], slowly peel back and share parts of yourself, [like your] history, aspirations, etc. This may make you feel like you are taking a leap of trust, and you are in a sense, but it’s the only way to get close,” she says.
Friendships can sometimes even be deeper for the un-betrothed. “I have noticed that when you enter a [romantic] relationship, oftentimes something is lost, and usually that is your friendships,” says Rachel. “I think one advantage [of singlehood] is time to develop some awesome friendships.”
To develop close bonds, spend time with other people—talking, hanging out, eating, or playing. As Sabrina notes, “The way you trust people is to do things with them.”
So while some people may be focused on their partners this Valentine’s Day, there are many others who will celebrate the holiday with family and friends.
This is a great time to write each other notes of appreciation, share some chocolate, or head out for a special activity.
In fact, all throughout the year there are plenty of reasons and ways to show the important people in your life that you care.
- Recognize the benefits that come with being single.
- Devote yourself to things that make life more fascinating to you.
- Set aside time to hang with friends and develop deep platonic bonds.
- Get together with your friends or family on Valentine’s Day. You can enjoy chocolates, watch a movie, or have a low-cost gift exchange!
- Make nights on your own special by playing your favorite music or concentrating on something you love to do.
Fun Valentine’s Day Ideas
Here are some affordable V-Day ideas:
- Cook with friends and family. You can even go grocery shopping together.
- Organize a game night with Valentine’s Day trivia, board games, and prizes!
- Volunteer. Offering your time and energy to other people can really bring on warm feelings.
- Have a movie night with fun snacks.
- Leave homemade valentines and little gifts (e.g., lollipops, temporary tattoos, a flower) for friends or family members. You can sign the notes anonymously or “from your secret admirer” to keep them guessing.
- Visit a special chocolate or ice cream shop and sample some new flavors.
- Get dressed up for dinner, even if you’ll be at home or the local diner. Or have a fondue party!
- Spoil yourself for the day. Treat yourself to something nice that you’ve wanted to buy or do.
Organize or attend a V-Day event. What began as a one-woman show by Eve Ensler, this initiative is now an international movement to end violence against women and girls. To learn more, CLICK HERE.
Get help or find out more
Psychology Today, Living Single
Onely: Single and Happy Blog
DePaulo, Bella. (2006). Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After, St. Martin’s Press. Cagen, Sasha. (2004). Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, HarperOne.
Ford, Judy. (2004). Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled and Independent, Adams Media.