Regardless of how many people seem to “know better,” I am constantly surprised by how often individuals I meet seem to believe that they will be happier if they just meet the “right” person.
It’s like we know that we are fine by ourselves cognitively, but still place tremendous significance on finding our “other half” or “soulmate.” In fact, this overwhelming desire is so great, that the online dating business is a multimillion, if not multibillion dollar industry. In 2012, E-Harmony alone made $310 million in revenue (Nextup Research Report). What does this mean? We, as Americans, are willing to fork over a fortune because we believe that finding a partner in life will ultimately make us happier.
Wouldn’t it be easier, and cheaper, if we just figured out how to be happy alone and if and when we found someone special then that would just be the icing on the cake? Today, I want to offer some tips on how to be just as happy by yourself, so that when you do find that other half, you will be ready!
1. Learn to enjoy doing things without a partner. I will never forget my first “me-cation.” It wasn’t anything big. Just a few days on my own in Dallas. For the first few hours it felt weird, but then it felt wonderful. I went where I wanted, ate where I wanted, and even took naps in my hotel room. It was wonderful and refreshing. It also felt freeing when I started going to movies and eating at restaurants by myself. Since there is no compromise, it is downright liberating!
2. Learn to ignore the media. It is no secret that the media makes couples look happy, and being a single mom, for example, look sad and lonely. The media does not define who you are and what makes you happy. You do that! And for the record, I know plenty of unhappy couples and truly vibrant single moms.
3. Learn to become the best version of you, you can possibly be. This is the easiest time in your life to go back to school, learn a new skill or trade, travel or develop a new hobby or passion. Trust me when I say all of these things are so much harder when you are married with children! See this time as an opportunity to promote self-growth and self-care.
You may be reading this and thinking that this article is not for you. You are already married with or without children. It may seem too late, but this article is still for you. Regardless of your situation in life, learning to love to be with yourself is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. It promotes self-love and mental wellness in ways that can only happen when you learn to like to hang out with you!
Whether you are single or not, being happy alone is an incredible gift and a huge step on the road to appropriate self-care. It is your opportunity to not only like yourself, but encourage others to depend their relationship with you and appreciate you more.
— Dr. Chrissy Whiting-Madison is a professor of psychology at Rogers State University.