Enjoying the single life is no doubt healthy (you should enjoy every relationship stage) and certainly there are numerous benefits and upsides. Finding happiness and solace in being single only makes you a better candidate for long term love – codependent folks aside. (Some of us can’t bear to be single for longer than two weeks.)
Now – like anything else, there are also downsides.
Looking back on my three-year single life stretch – and I’ve written plenty about it, even here and here – I realize how I conditioned myself to deal with men who for one reason or another, turned out not to be serious candidates. To an extent, a successful dating life requires a “don’t care” attitude. Otherwise, you spend too much time wondering why he or she didn’t call, why they lied, why you didn’t vibe, etc. Major time waster.
So as far as down sides, the first one is:
1. Don’t care attitude
Being callous sounds negative, but during single life, it’s necessary. You’ll meet great people (trust me, the world is filled with them), and you’ll also come across liars and jerks. That’s par for the course. Your attitude should be “Nexxxtttt!!” And keep it moving. As long as you’re considerate to your dates, or friends, or options – or whatever, you’re allowed to only be bothered when you want to and shut off when you don’t.
As easy as it is to get comfortable with that mindset, relationships require you to show up and be present and to engage with your partner even on your worst days. And hopefully you find solace in doing so because they’re your best friend. Pick up the phone and be receptive because you never want to take hearing his voice for granted.
2. Relishing free time and space
Having space is great! But unless we make room, our lovers get left out in the cold. Making space might entail decluttering your closet, especially if you’re in the “pre-engagement” stage and he or she spends weekends (or weeks in the case of a long distance relationship) at your place. Making room might mean allowing your lover to accompany you on shopping trips (I enjoy clothes shopping alone.) or cook beside you in your kitchen. Some people even shower together! It goes without saying that you should toss out as much emotional baggage as possible and make room in your heart too.
3. Hoarding information
Any successful relationship requires transparency so I’ve learned. There’s so much information we could divulge, but likely have no real reason to as a single person – sexual health and marital and mental status aside. We all have a story. The person you decide to settle down with will have a vested interest in knowing everything that makes you tick, your fears, your triumphs, the history behind all your bodily scars, etc. My partner asked me very early on about my “real hair” and I was caught off guard! It was important to him. Like really important. If you’re a black woman, you know good and well enough that we have a complex relationship with our hair. He kept bringing it up until I showed him my hair in its natural state (I.e. an afro). “I want to know you in the natural state as the creator made you.” He’s particular and I appreciate that. Anyway, hoarding information could be detrimental to a solid union. You have to be transparent even when it’s uncomfortable.
4. Being free spirited
Free spirited is code word for not waxing or shaving your personal parts. Unless of course, you’re in a friends with benefits situation or you just enjoy being bare (or itchy). In a relationship, again, you have to compromise. They like it, you suffer…
Free spending might be under the same umbrella. If your budget or funds are jacked up, but you’re still shopping til you drop, none will be the wiser. Get into a serious, committed relationship and start talking future, and your significant other will at some point want details about finances. (As a sidenote, financial savviness is great, even if you plan on being single forever.)
Again, embrace wherever you are right now because it’s all part of the process. Just bear in mind that transitioning to committed life can take some conscious effort, just as transitioning in any other area of your life does. Behaviors that serve you well in one stage, won’t necessarily serve you well in others. Therefore, you may need to recondition your thinking.
I wanted to include a BONUS downside to being single, but this is what I have for now! I could add embracing loneliness, but that might be a given. Yes, the single life gets lonely if you’re craving an intimate emotional connection – or committed, monogamous sex.
Feel free to leave ideas in the comments.
Are you single? What are the upsides and downsides? If you’re married or in a relationship, what advice can you offer single or unmarried people to make committed life with a partner work? If you’ve recently gone from single to committed/ in a relationship, what adjustments did you make?