Word on the street is that being in a relationship is somehow synonymous with happiness, fulfillment, blah blah blah. Can someone please fill us in on where this myth came from? Did we miss something? Sure, being in a healthy, supportive relationship is great, but it’s most definitely not the only path to feeling your best — and to continue to promote this myth is unfair to butt-kicking independent ladies everywhere. We need to take Queen Bey’s anthem for singles just as seriously as we do her major beauty statements (you rock that bob, Beyoncé!). If everyone’s favorite girl crush can strut around in spandex singing the praises of singledom, then there’s gotta be some serious potential for happiness in being unattached, no?
Certified clinical psychologist and behavioral therapist Dr. Jenny Taitz is on Bey’s side here (aren’t we all?) — in fact, she wrote a whole book about how to be happy without a significant other. How to Be Single and Happy provides “science-based strategies for keeping your sanity while looking for a soul mate.” Given the research Dr. Taitz has now done on the science of singledom and happiness, she has plenty of advice for the unattached among us… but what’s her number-one tip?
“Consider how your life would be different if you were in a relationship, and start living the way you ultimately hope to live, today,” she encourages. “It’s stressful to face the uncertainty of not knowing when you’ll connect with a partner who matters to you — which is all the more reason you deserve to create a plan that reminds you that you can live joyfully now.”
Brilliant, right? Basically, if you see yourself becoming suddenly more kind to yourself when you no longer have the pressures of online dating, skip ahead to the part where you show yourself some extra compassion now! If you’ve been holding off on planning some bucket list travel or pursuing a major career shift because you thought you’d be in a relationship by now, give yourself a pep talk, and chase those dreams right away. Dr. Taitz also suggests that singles be mindful of their mindset. “It’s essential to watch out for the ways we torture ourselves,” she says. “One way people make themselves miserable is by anticipating aloneness or predicting that they’ll never meet someone. Researchers describe that imagining you’ll end up alone actually gets in the way of thinking clearly.”
Instead of letting your feelings about being single now color the way you predict that your life will unfold, plan for a future in which all of your dreams of a good relationship might actually come true. “The second you start to prepare to wind up lonely is when your capacity to reason dwindles,” warns Dr. Taitz. A major risk of being single and unhappy is, of course, the possibility that someone will opt to settle for a relationship that isn’t totally right for them, simply for the sake of being in a relationship. Dr. Taitz encourages singles everywhere to adapt their mindset for contentment in the here and now (and maybe even learn more about the science of happiness in her book!) to avoid this kind of oh-so-unhappy ending.
What’s your best advice for being both single and happy? Tweet us @BritandCo!
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