What Happened When I Embraced The Single Life I'd Always Avoided

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Embracing The Single Life I'd Always AvoidedLAUNCHMETRICS SPOTLIGHT

Two years ago, I found myself oversharing with a woman in a club bathroom. Yes, it was somewhere around 3am. And, yes, I was a little drunk. We quickly got onto the subject of relationships, and I told her about my recent break-up. ‘Congratulations!’ my new pal exclaimed, pulling me in for a hug that extended far beyond the level of intimacy that was appropriate for our four-minute-year-old friendship. ‘What?’ I asked, confused. ‘I’m so excited for you,’ she replied, smiling widely.

The comment rattled me and I left abruptly. ‘She was American,’ I told friends whenever I shared the anecdote, trying to think of a reason that might explain her audacious enthusiasm. Since when is a break-up something to be celebrated? Why wasn’t she more sympathetic? How could she have been so rude? Now that I’ve more had time to process and actually spend time being single, I know the answers to those questions.


For as long as I can remember, I’ve been sold the myth that being a single woman meant you were some sort of social failure. It was a waiting room. A state of limbo. A shallow pool you idly splashed around in until someone scooped you out. Growing up, this narrative was everywhere I looked, from Bridget Jones’s Diary and almost every other Noughties rom-com to distant relatives asking how my love life was going with pity in their eyes.

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But this has changed. As I approach my 30th birthday, I’ve noticed a difference in how my single friends and I see our lives. None of us is waiting around for anyone to ‘save’ us. Not at all: we’re all too busy spending time getting to know who we are and what we want from life. In other words, doing the things we neglected to do when we were in relationships – many of which weren’t all that healthy.

But all this goes beyond the ‘single positivity’ movement that has been sweeping social media. Personally, I find all that a little patronising and contrived. Like being single is so devastating that we need an overzealous hashtag to reassure us that it’s going to be alright. As fun as it would be to skip down the streets singing Natasha Bedingfield’s I’m Single at strangers, that degree of enthusiasm isn’t necessary, nor is it particularly helpful.

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Being happily single today is about being comfortable on your own. It’s seeing an empty Sunday in your diary and not getting an instant pang of fear and subsequent pressure to fill it. Rather, you feel excited by the prospect of having a day to yourself that you can conduct exactly how you want, whether it’s cleaning the flat, going for a long run, or checking out an exhibition with a friend. It’s about realising you can fill your own cup; you don’t need to wait for someone else to do it for you.

It’s also about examining your emotional wellbeing, taking stock of old habits and identifying where you might have gone wrong in the past. My single friends are some of the most emotionally literate people I know because they’ve invested in themselves in a way that isn’t always possible if you’re in a relationship, particularly one that’s not right for you. Now, they know who they are on a deeper level; maybe I do too. Of course that’s something worth celebrating. I just wish I’d known that in the club bathroom two years ago.

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