Being single can be hard.
This is especially true when you’re single but really wish you could be in a romantic relationship.
If you’re going through this and being told that you just need to “chill” and be patient you’re probably feeling sick of hearing that.
Here’s some actual useful advice that’s not patronizing and dismissive.
How to make peace with being single: 9 key steps
1) Break the ideal
I personally believe in romantic love. I also believe that we meet only a few people in our lives who we are compatible with for long-term relationships.
That said, clinging to the ideal of a soulmate, twin flame or perfect partner can cause immense pain.
As Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown discusses here, we often build up so many expectations around finding the “one” that we end up feeling very disappointed when it doesn’t work out how we’d hoped.
We feel split, alone, lost.
Breaking this ideal is one of the best ways for how to make peace with being single.
Realize that although ideals may have some grounding in truth, the grass is always greener on the other side.
As Justin talks about here, wanting a partner is great, and coming to terms with that feeling inside yourself of being torn between being happy single and wanting a partner is a healthy tension.
The key if you’re feeling down about being single is to accept and grapple with that feeling.
If you really want to make peace with being single, you also need to accept your own inner experiences around being single.
Although it may sound paradoxical, there are those who find it very uncomfortable being in relationships even when they’re in love. They often have to come to a point of making peace to be in a relationship even though they feel stifled.
Everyone has their own journey.
2) Check out bad relationships
Nothing has ever made me happier and more at peace with being single than seeing others who are in bad relationships.
Have you ever watched a couple fight in public or cast each other dirty looks while out shopping? You can feel the resentment and stress from miles away.
Look at Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, whose abusive relationship is now being aired out in detail for the world to see.
Even the most rich and famous of us aren’t spared the pain and confusion when love goes sour.
If you’re currently single and feeling a sense of lack, look at those who aren’t single but desperately wish they were.
They’d trade places with you in an instant.
There are plenty of happy and apparently pretty rewarding relationships out there as well, but the point is that it’s far from a sure bet.
Furthermore, many people start out in bliss and quickly head to an awful cliff.
This isn’t supposed to make you feel fine with being single for your whole life and won’t necessarily resolve deeper feelings of alienation and rejection, but it can definitely help you see some of the pluses of your situation.
3) Be open to opportunities
It’s important to live life with some spontaneity and seeing what happens.
You never know who you’ll meet in your daily life and what could happen.
The key to making peace with being single also rests in making peace with how much of life is out of our control.
Just when you think all hope is gone you may meet the love of your life.
Just when you think you’ve met a partner who truly gets you, they could betray you in a way that takes years to recover from.
Don’t count all your chickens before they’re hatched, and remain open to the unexpected.
You may be single now, and you may have been for awhile.
But magic happens every day, and you never know when it will be your turn.
As they say, love usually comes when you least expect it.
Which brings me to my next point…
4) Delete Tinder and dating apps
Dating apps and Tinder are just how you meet someone nowadays, right?
Why in the hell would you delete them if you’re looking for romance? At the very least you could end up having some fun with a good looking stranger, no?
Everyone has the right to live their own life and use the apps they wish.
My belief is that they tend to be addictive and unsatisfying, leading us into encounters with many people we would never seek to meet or be attracted to in our daily life.
Apps tend to bring together people who for one reason or another don’t wish to be single.
That wish not to be single or at least openness to a relationship should be fine and perfectly attractive. Wanting a partner or someone to date isn’t bad.
The problem is that feeling of inner inadequacy that often stacks up along with the search for a new partner.
Instead of meeting someone new who you’d be proud to call your girlfriend or boyfriend, you meet someone feeling super insecure about being single who leaves you also second-guessing their worth or using you in some way.
At least that has been my experience.
“When I used dating apps, I thought I had been taking charge of my dating life, but I discovered that I had actually ceded control to the algorithmic whims of apps driven by big data, and propelled by my own excessive and increasing desperation, I descended into mindless swiping that left me more dissatisfied than when I started.”
5) Focus on work and projects
Another way I advise to make more peace with being single is to focus on work and projects you’re passionate about.
Even better is that you can often meet that special someone by pursuing your passions and focusing on what you want to be doing in life.
If your job keeps you cooped up a lot, try taking a second more social job part time.
Get out there and meet people who share your interests!
You may remain single, but you’re likely to have a much bigger social network and a more satisfying life as a bachelor or bachelorette.
Even better, you’ll be building bridges for your social life and personal development in all sorts of new ways.
This can include things like starting your own business, going on to higher education or any number of other ideas that will link you up with people and get you focused on your goals.
6) Write your own story
All too often, we are living our lives subconsciously to live up to the ideals and goals of others.
In my case I always had a belief from a young age that I would meet “the one” and live happily ever after.
That belief wasn’t conditioned to me or taught to me, it was more something that I developed from my imaginative and idealistic young self.
I was actually told by authority figures, parents and relatives that marriage and relationships are very hard and shouldn’t be the focus of life, so my situation is somewhat the opposite of those who are raised to really put a priority on pair bonding by society.
Whichever way you were raised and the values you were given, make sure that you’re not living someone else’s story and calling it your own.
This is especially common when we live out our own parents’ story, seeking or rejecting love in order to try to deal with unresolved trauma that they left us with from their own relationship troubles.
7) Two halves or two wholes?
The idea of finding our “other half” goes back to ancient Greece or even to the Garden of Eden in the Bible in a certain way.
It’s a romantic and destiny-filled concept but it can also be subtly disempowering.
If you’re only half a person, how are you supposed to be doing OK in life until you meet your other half?
It’s romantic, in a way, but it’s also tragic.
That’s why a more helpful way for how to make peace with being single is to think of yourself as a whole who is trying to become even more well-rounded and self-sufficient.
You always have room for a partner-in-crime, but you’re not really in need of that.
This is the right mentality to make peace with being single.
To see yourself as overflowing with what you need and potentially accepting someone else by your side who’s also got their own life to live and isn’t codependent.
As for physical needs and sexual urges? That energy can often be channeled into your work passion and projects.
Emotional needs and feeling lonely? This is when we are formed into the person we’ll become, and these hard times often look worthwhile in retrospect.
8) Hang out with other single people
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has a program called YSA (Young Single Adults) that I used to attend.
The concept is simple: single young people get together and study the Bible and Book of Mormon and make friends.
Whatever your religious background or culture, try to find opportunities to meet and hang out with other single folks.
This could be meetup groups to hike, spiritual retreats or many other areas which are geared more toward solo individuals.
Being around more single people helps you see that there’s a lot of high quality single folks out there and you’re not alone!
9) Find your discomfort zone
A lof of the most important growing we do happens in our discomfort zone.
It occurs when we stop running towards pleasure and ease and run instead towards challenge and uncomfortable reality.
In the case of making peace with being single, this means finding the hidden gem in being single and the motivation in the frustration you feel that can make you a more authentic and motivated person.
Instead of “thinking positive” or visualizing a future ideal mate, focus instead on that burning inner sense you’re missing out…
That vague but certain feeling you’ll “always” be alone…
Then go channel that energy into an epic workout, inventing a new piece of software, helping an old man cross the street or even giving a friend advice on his relationship.
Instead of running away from the issue of being single, stare it in the face.
Don’t focus on it, but don’t shirk it either. It is what it is.
Don’t force it!
Ironically, a big part of making peace with being single is accepting and acknowledging your feelings of being uncomfortable with it.
Nobody can force you to feel or not feel a certain way about anything.
If being single is bothering you that is a valid emotion.
“You don’t have to accept anything you don’t want to.
“Maybe someday you will, but for now everything you feel is perfectly fine! It is NOT a weakness to want someone in your life.”
Making peace with being single means first making peace with the fact that you’re bothered by it.
That’s OK, and as you focus on doing some of the tips I’ve outlined above, the feeling that you’re missing out by being single will tend to subside.