You don’t need a love interest in your life to live it well.
If you’re single and reading this I have two words for you: Be thankful!
OK, I think I know what you’re thinking now (because I would be thinking the same thing if someone said “be thankful” to me): Why on earth would I be grateful for being single?
I don’t have a date to my cousin’s wedding.
On my birthday, my parents often add a wish out loud while I blow out the candles: “… and that you finally find a husband.”
My friends are organizing yet another baby shower and, when I attend, casually ask me, “Do you think you’ll ever get married?” over cake and diaper games.
And, yes, I’m gaining weight, but it isn’t baby weight. It’s chocolate.
So forgive me if I’m not jumping up and down, saying, “Praise the lord! I’m single! Woo!“
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Yes, those are all very valid points. Because we all feel the pain of being without a partner sometimes.
But you can be thankful to be without a love interest, too, because you can use your time as a single individual to take care of you. So instead of dwelling on how to get rid of that “single” label, think of what you can do to better know yourself, your needs and your desires.
The first order of business on that journey: Clean up your relationship with your parents, advises Iga Glapińska of the Association of Christian Psychologists. Your bond with your parents is the first lesson you ever got in relationships, and that bond influences how you treat other connections in your life, romantic or otherwise. “If you do not examine, show appreciation for and find peace or “closure” in a parental relationship, then you may have difficulties later on [in other relationships] that you won’t know how to identify,” Iga Galapińska told For Her.
Finding “closure” in your relationship with your parents does not mean, of course, cutting them off or breaking ties with them. It’s about awareness.
We leave our family home with a suitcase full of clothes and books, usually bound for college or other adventures, but we also carry emotional baggage out the door with us, too. That suitcase is full of our good and beautiful memories, as well as a few things we’d rather forget. Iga Glapińska suggests that one of the ways to organize a relationship with your parents may be to write a letter, in which you thank them for all they’ve done for you so far. You could also add what you wish had been different, or even an apology. Proper arrangement inside this emotional “suitcase” will help you create better boundaries between your life and your parents’ life. And set you up for other successful relationships in the future.
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What’s next? Think through the other relationships in your life. Specifically, think about when you’ve had any difficulties with boyfriends, and what difficulties the other person may have had with you. After a little distance, you may discover something about yourself, says Iga Glapińska. But, of course, that sounds easier said than done.
Willy Jurg, a psychoanalyst I spoke with, says he formulated three main principles of a relationship that may help as you think about your exes:
1. The first is the principle of equal value of partners: The idea is to treat the other person in the relationship equally to ourselves, to jointly decide your affairs as a couple, and to openly talk about things that are important for each of you.
2. The second principle is the ability to put internal and external borders. Will Jurg recommends that we openly communicate our needs and not just “get over” difficult situations.
3. The last principle is a balance between regress and progress, or more simply put, allowing yourself to be weak at times, knowing when to ask for help from your partner and receiving it graciously, or but also knowing how to give that help back to them with grace.
As you think about these three principles, you’ll begin to see defining characteristics about yourself, and feel more confident in who you are, both inside and outside a relationship.
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In time of single frustration, I think St. Paul has good advice: He probably wasn’t thinking about the dating world when he was writing to the Thessalonians, but I think his words are still applicable to matters of the heart: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ for you. Do not quench the Spirit!”
These words can remind us all that living alone, without a fiance on the horizon, does not have to feel like a curse. Instead we can see it as an opportunity to build a relationship with yourself.
Why wait for another person to live your life? Live now! Your identity is not “a single woman,” it’s as a human … and one who has much to offer this world.
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