This article was first published on Mind Body Green:
Misha was brimming with excitement of news to share.
“I’ve fallen in love!” she exclaimed. I fought the urge to roll my eyes.
At 32, Misha had been married twice. Misha had not yet finalized her second divorce before she was in the throes of a passionate romance with Jed, a Brooklyn-based artist and bartender. He, too, had just ended a 5-year relationship. Within three months, Misha had moved into Jed’s tiny apartment in Bushwick. Misha and Jed were quickly inseparable. Besides work, they had little time for outside distractions, including friends.
Within three months of co-habitating, Misha and Jed were fighting viciously.
She often cried about his bad behavior. He snooped through her journal. He called her friends “petty” and “vacuous.” His drinking, which initially made him appear fun and uninhibited, was actually a debilitating addiction. He demeaned her weight, even after she shared her painful struggle with an eating disorder.
I asked her, “Why do you stay with him?”
She replied, “I love him. And, I hate to be single.”
Media and society, unfortunately, propagate a myth that it is better to be with someone…anyone…than to be alone. So, people run from relationship to relationship, seeking love, comfort, and acceptance from others that they need to provide for themselves. Unfortunately, this desperate need for attachment is the perfect foundation upon which toxic, hurtful and insecure partnerships are often built.
Being “in a relationship” is very different from being “in the right relationship.” The latter requires self-examination and emotional work. If you want to attract a happy, healthy and secure partner, you must be the best version of yourself. This includes making peace with loneliness, becoming comfortable with your own company, and refusing society’s pressure to “couple-up,” if doing so risks your physical, financial, mental or emotional health.
So, go ahead and enjoy your single life. Enjoy the opportunity to:
Take an honest moral inventory. Reflect upon your prior romantic partners. List the good, bad and ugly. What qualities did you absolutely love? What traits did you find despicable? Where can you improve? Are you as compassionate, loving and forgiving as you hope to be?
- Unapologetically enjoy life. Romantic relationships require negotiation or compromise. As a single person, you can do what you want, when you want. Enjoy leftover Chinese food for breakfast; watch a “Scandal” marathon all weekend in your flannel pajamas; and book a ticket to South Beach on a moment’s notice.
- Meet a host of new people. It takes time to become comfortable with navigating the world solo. But, project an open and friendly demeanor, and you’ll be surprised at how approachable (dare I say, intriguing?) you are to others. Interesting conversations with strangers and unexpected kindnesses will flow in abundance to you.
- Indulge in your own moodiness. With other people, you may have to suppress your negative emotions. But, alone you can indulge in those not-so-acceptable pity parties. Don’t feel like talking for 24 hours? You don’t have to.
- Rejuvenate your spirit. A little alone time—replete with your favorite indulgences—does wonders for the mind and body. With replenished reserves of vigor and energy, you will be inspired to learn Spanish, train for a marathon, cook ramen from scratch, and accomplish a long list of goals with renewed energy.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, people who are happily content solo rarely have a shortage of suitors. From this strong place of “security,” true love is often born.