Opinion: Stop Overthinking Single People

Crystal Jackson

Photo byAral Tasher on Unsplash

I used to think that happily coupled people want single people to find relationships in order to be equally happy as if their love manifested in such a way that it led to this outpouring of altruism for close friends and family. Maybe that’s true in some instances. But I think sometimes the opposite is true: it’s not about wanting us to be happy. It’s wanting us to be the same.

Single people, happily single people, can be a threat to the status quo. Our lives don’t look the same as others, and there is a certain freedom when we’re outside of the confines of a relationship with its rules and compromises. On the other hand, many of us also balance single parenting so it’s not that our lives are without challenges. Yet, what is different is often viewed as dangerous.

I can understand that, in a way. When I got divorced, I would happily advise other people to do the same if they felt their relationships were beyond saving. I wanted people to experience the freedom I was feeling--my freedom had manifested in such a way that it led to an outpouring of altruism for close friends and family. And, on the other hand, was this other truth that happily coupled people could rankle on the days when I wasn’t as happy as I’d have liked.

Luckily for me, I tend toward the positive so I was more likely to wish someone happiness in whatever relationship status they chose, regardless of my own. Still, I can see how people who are coupled might look at the single person as being an aberration. For many people, being single is this thing we do until we find someone- as if we are naturally looking. It’s this waiting room we’re stuck in where we’re loaded down with unsolicited advice and a never-ending stream of nude pics while we wait for our happily ever after.

What would surprise many people is how much many of us enjoy our single status. It surprised me a little, too. After the end of a relationship, I found that I was content in my space. Although I was naturally heartbroken and had healing to do, I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed my solitude. I liked the hours stretching out in the evening where I could choose how to fill them. I liked having quiet time and time to focus on interests my previous partner didn’t share.

While I have the occasional twinge of loneliness, it’s not overwhelming. I’ve even found a few life hacks to deal with it.

Being single shouldn’t come across as dangerous. Of course, my single status comes with its fair share of ethics and boundaries. For instance, I don’t poach. I have zero interest in anyone who is involved in a committed relationship. I’m not going to be the one flirting with someone else’s partner or trying to test the limits of their relationship.

It shouldn’t even be assumed that all single people are on the prowl anyway. It may surprise many people to find out that I'm not looking. While I’m always open to meeting someone new, I’m not trying anymore. I’m happily single, and sometimes I joke that I just don’t want to screw up my relationship with myself. Of course, there’s a little truth in there.

It’s so much easier to be fully ourselves when we don’t have to balance a partner’s wants and needs. I can fully embrace my truth and live it without having to consider another adult. I’ve chosen, at the present, not to search for the next relationship because I’m enjoying the one I’m in now- the one with myself where I love and care for myself so well that I don’t feel the need to be on the lookout for the next best thing.

I’m hoping that by the time I end up in another relationship, I’ll be ready for it. I’ll be so secure in this relationship with myself that I won’t compromise on the things that are important to me. I’ll be too sure of myself and what I need to ever do that again. Since I’m happy now, I’m focusing on myself and what I want for my life without the added stress of trying to date, too.

People want to assume that single people are dangerous or could easily rock the boat. Maybe they think it’s catching as if we carry the germs of breakups or divorces around with us. Well, feel free to Purell before saying hello, but I promise we’re harmless enough. We just want to be free to live our lives without the weight of the world telling us we’re doing it wrong because we’re happy on our own.

Don’t pull out that fake pity when you think we say we’re happy to cover up the fact that we’re not. It’s not fake. Believe us when we say we prefer our lives to yours. We’d rather wait for something that’s right than settle for something that’s not. Many of us would happily keep these relationships with ourselves for the rest of our days than ever end up unhappily paired with another.

The single state gets way more attention than it needs. Even I’ve been overthinking it in the time I’ve been on my own. It’s not because I’m unhappy with it; I’ve been hit by the weight of the world’s opinions. It’s time to stop judging our happiness on the basis of our relationship with other people. If we’re coupled. If we’re parents. If we’re someone’s boss or colleague. Our whole lives can’t be judged simply by who we are to other people, and yet… there it is again: that judgment, sitting heavily upon us the moment someone hears the word single.

Stop Overthinking Single People

Overthink it if you need to, but we, the single, are going to be out here happily doing our own thing. If you need us, we’ll be the ones pursuing our dreams, making ourselves a priority, and taking care of business. We’re not waiting by the phone or off on the prowl looking for Mr. (or Mrs.) Right. We’re too busy enjoying the lives we’re leading, and we don’t need anyone feeling sorry for us or feeling threatened by us. We’re just humans, existing in a different relationship status and not a parallel universe. So maybe just treat us that way.

And- because punctuation is important- I’ll add:

Stop Overthinking, Single People

What other people think of us isn’t our concern. We need to stop overthinking our relationship status so much. It doesn’t say anything about who we are or how we live except that we don’t share those lives with a committed partner. It doesn’t mean we’re not worthy. It doesn’t mean we’re not deserving of love. It certainly doesn’t mean we’re not enough. While the world over thinks us enough, we need to stop adding to it with constant pressure on ourselves to fix what doesn’t need fixing.

Repeat after me: we are not broken! There’s no need to fix the state we’re in because it’s not a problem needing to be solved. It’s just our current state of being. Now, we are alone. One day, we may not be. But there’s nothing wrong with being alone and enjoying our lives without someone right by our side. We can’t ask the world to stop shoving its view of us down our throats when we do it ourselves so much of the time.

So, just quit it. Let’s quit it, and enjoy our lives right now.

Originally published on Medium

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Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned writer. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and a volume of poetry entitled My Words Are Whiskey. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, and Elephant Journal. When she's not writing, you can find her traveling, paddle boarding, cycling, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with one puppy and two wild and wonderful children. Crystal writes about relationships, mental health, parenting, social justice, and more. Never miss an update. Subscribe to emails: https://crystaljacksonwriter.substack.com/

Madison, GA

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