Why are so many relationship writers and experts single?
Sometimes, I feel that I should begin relationship articles with the following disclaimer: The author assumes no responsibility or liability for any actions you may take as a result of reading this article. While the author is a former licensed therapist, the information offered is based on her life experience and does not constitute therapeutic or medical advice. Keep in mind that she is a single woman giving relationship advice. 😉
Let’s be honest — while much of my work is based on psychological principles and research, a lot of what I have to say comes from the school of hard knocks. I’ve learned relationship lessons the hard way, and I share what I now know to be true in hopes that it helps other people who are struggling through similar experiences. I hope what I write makes someone feel a little less alone. I hope it helps in some small way.
Relationships are tough. They take effort and work, not to mention timing and communication. This is one reason why so many self-proclaimed relationship experts are single. Just because someone has learned a thing or two doesn’t mean they’ve found lasting love. It just means that they’re unlikely to tolerate any more toxic relationships.
While you might want to dismiss the advice of a single person when it comes to relationships, here are just a few things you can learn about relationships from someone who isn’t currently in one.
6 Lessons from Single “Relationship Experts”
When you’ve had time to take a step back from relationships and focus on healing, you often find a place of accountability for your relationship choices. I might not be able to tell you the secret to finding someone to love and keeping them in your life, but I can be accountable and share the ways I’ve messed up when it comes to connecting and communicating.
I can share how being single allows you the space to process the whole relationship — not just the parts that make you look good and make them look like a villain. In fact, if you haven’t found this clarity, you’re not done healing.
Relationship advice coming from a single person who’s done the work on themselves and/or sourced professional help to break toxic patterns in their lives is often good advice. It’s not easy to publicly talk about the ways I’ve screwed up, but it just might help someone else with a squeaky-clean narrative find a little more clarity on why past relationships didn’t work out.
Want to know how a lot of single people who write about relationships get good at communication? We start out bad at it. We learn through experience. I can share the different love languages and how most of us screw up the translations even when we have the best of intentions. It’s easier to love people the way we want to give and receive love than to learn a new and sometimes uncomfortable way. A person who loves through actions may choke a little when their partner needs to feel loved with words.
I can also share what I know about apologies and how to offer a sincere one. This combines communication and accountability. I fully believe in the power of an apology. It often doesn’t restore the relationship, but it does give us personal peace when we do what we know is right. We can’t make other people forgive us, but we can apologize anyway and forgive ourselves for our mistakes.
Single “relationship experts” can point out every single possible type of red flag because we’ve seen most of them. There have been times we’ve ignored them and learned the hard way, and other times we successfully dodged the bullets only to turn the incident into a dinner party topic of conversation. In our single state, we just might see what you don’t and will let you know the warning signs that your relationship might be problematic.
Here’s the cold hard truth: most of us don’t want the warning. If you’re in the early rush of infatuation, you may not want someone to come along and point out that the relationship is largely one-sided or that the narrative you’ve invented for your relationship is just that — a story that doesn’t honor the truth of the situation and only serves to make you feel better about it. Single people who’ve been through the wringer, people like me, tell you what we see in hopes you don’t have to go through what we did.
Solitude vs Loneliness
Here’s another lesson single people can teach you: being lonely won’t kill you. Usually. It’s important to note that suicide ideation is a risk that should be taken seriously. But being single isn’t a death sentence. You can lose the person you think you cannot lose and survive it.
I can come to you in your grief, through words on a screen, and tell you that the grief will dissipate someday. Someday, a smile will form on your face. You’ll remember what it is to laugh with abandon. Joy is still out there waiting for you.
I can walk you through the temptation to settle and how I course-correct by remembering that there are lonelier things than being alone — like being with the wrong person. I commit, time and again, to loving myself enough to make the hard choice for my long-term happiness. I’m able to be honest about the ups and downs knowing that I am not alone in feeling alone sometimes.
The Glow Up
Relationship experts with no relationship can give you all the details on how to execute the most amazing glow-up. We’ve been through enough breakups to know that they are awful but also offer the opportunity for us to grow — and glow. You can make so many changes in your life while you’re single — not to attract a better partner but to live a better life.
There are so many ways to go about a glow-up. Some people give themselves a makeover — a haircut, a gym membership, or other outer changes that come to symbolize the inner ones. Other people do the opposite. They go inward. They learn to meditate or spend more time in nature. They read more or sign up for a class. But most of us do a combination of an outer glow-up and an inner one where we don’t embrace improvement to be a better potential partner but do start fully living our lives.
I am capable of walking you through your relationship anxiety because I’ve been there. I can tell you how I dealt with heartbreak, long-distance relationships, and even the experience of emotional abuse. I can break down dating terms and tell you how I’ve witnessed them in my own life. I can be real even when the thought of that level of vulnerability is still sometimes scary.
Even though I’m a single person, I have a lot of life experience combined with a mental health background. There’s false comfort to be had when we take advice from people who are in relationships. We assume that they’re happy — that the relationship that has lasted is a healthy one. That’s not always the case.
A single person has seen the entirety of the life cycle of relationships. It’s not to say that our advice is better than someone in an actual relationship. It really depends on the health of the individual. But don’t discount the advice just because of the relationship status — single or otherwise.
The Truth About “Experts”
You’ll find that many financial experts have been through financial setbacks up to and including bankruptcy. They didn’t learn how to manage money just because they always had a lot of it. Most of us learn the hard way. We learn through losing everything how to hold on to what’s most important.
Single people give out relationship advice because we’ve done the whole thing from start to finish. We’ve connected, fallen in love, and fallen apart. Often, many times. Things didn’t work out, but if we were paying attention, we learned new lessons each time.
I’m not getting any less single over here, but I am getting wiser. I can see the progression in my past relationships. The last one may not have lasted, but I don’t regret that relationship. I can see my own missteps even more clearly than his at this point in my healing, and I’ve made peace with the way things are now.
Although I can see many things I did wrong before I knew better, I also can acknowledge that I did a lot right. I loved well, I tried hard, and when that didn’t work, I grieved for as long as I needed to in order to truly be okay again.
This version of me loves myself as hard as I ever loved anyone else. I’m not perfect, but I’ve spent time healing, addressing past trauma, and becoming more self-aware. Then, because I am a writer, I take this experience and share it — not to offer you advice but to offer you the benefit of my experience.
Do you want to know the real reason why some people who write about relationships are still single? We’re not settling, mistaking attraction for compatibility, or dating the same way we did before. It might mean we’re single for longer, but it also gives us a better shot at a healthier relationship in the future.
Does the relationship status of the person who’s writing make a difference? I’m not sure that it does. We want to know that advice has real-world applicability and doesn’t just sound good in theory. For single people who write or speak about love and relationships, you might assume we don’t know what we’re talking about, but the truth is that being single provides a clarity we can’t have bouncing from relationship to relationship. We aren’t just seeing what we want to see anymore. We’re seeing things — and people — as they are.
Take what you need from our experiences. Leave the rest. We’re not perfect, but we’re trying — just like everyone else.
Originally published on Medium