Being single when you don’t want to can be an agonizing experience. It’s one of those situations where the harder you work to remedy it, the worse the problem becomes. People can sense desperation and find it offputting.
The important thing is that you learn to be happy while single. Even in less-than-ideal circumstances, you can stay positive and dedicate your energy to productive outlets. Coincidentally, as soon as you’re comfortable and happy while being single, you’ll probably meet your next partner.
Every strategy for being happy while you’re single falls into one of two categories:
Self-improvement activities to help attract new partners and/or enjoy more successful relationships in the future.
Things (or lifestyle decisions) you can’t fully appreciate unless you’re single.
There are only two ways to deal with the problem: you can change the circumstances making you unhappy or adjust how you think and feel about the situation. You can improve your life and become more desirable to make finding a partner easier or learn how to be happy independent of your relationship status.
Stop assuming that being single is solely responsible for how you feel.
Sometimes we diagnose the situation backward.
Maybe deeper issues are making you miserable and singledom is just a justification. Plenty of people see their dreams come true only to find themselves feeling the same way on the other side. As soon as they get what they want, a new problem appears to replace it and that becomes the focal point. Their base level of happiness never improves — it just shifts.
I know tons of unhappy married people. Being single and free doesn’t look so depressing to them!
Ultimately, I guess it doesn’t matter which comes first: the sadness or singledom – either way, the approach to remedying your mind state is about the same.
People who make themselves more desirable are less likely to stay single for as long.
The self-improvement techniques that make you more desirable also fight depression – as does making progress towards a goal.
You end up killing two unhappy birds with the same stone!
Most articles you’ll find on this topic focus exclusively on self-betterment activities, designed to boost your confidence, improve your health, and make you a more attractive dating prospect overall. Everyone knows that hitting the gym – or, at least, increasing physical activity — has positive effects on mood, energy levels, and appearance. It’s obvious and, for many people, much easier said than done.
If you’re not ready to commit to fitness, maybe a new wardrobe will put you in a better headspace. It’s funny how something as minor as upgrading your style can generate just enough swag to trigger a whole cascade of positive momentum.
Finding a hobby is another obvious one. Reaching goals and improving at pretty much any activity will benefit the practitioner’s sense of satisfaction. You’re either growing or dying, so occupy your time on pursuits that will show signs of gradual improvement. If you can find a communal hobby with frequent meetups and a good mix of people, it will eventually become a new social circle — one more place to find like-minded dating prospects.
Anything that captures your imagination makes you feel better, or provides an interesting new challenge will build confidence, make you more interesting, and improve your desirability.
However, there’s more to finding happiness than physical and material improvements. Perspective plays an equally crucial role in the equation.
Let Go of the Past
If being single makes you miserable, there’s always a good reason why. Usually, it has something to do with previous relationship failures and bad breakups. Dwelling on the pain of the past does absolutely nothing productive.
It’s the hardest thing in the world not to take painful memories personally, but you deserve it.
If you’re not careful, every heartbreak or humiliation leaves another scar – scars that often present themselves in unpredictable, unfortunate ways with future dating prospects. The longer you hang onto past mistakes and resentments, the longer it’ll be before you’re capable of a healthy loving relationship. I’m willing to predict that over 40% of failed relationships are caused by unresolved issues from previous engagements. The current partner is punished for someone else’s transgressions.
Even if you find another romantic partner, you’re setting yourself up for failure. All the same problems will arise, and you’ll be right back to where you are now. You must forgive yourself and anyone who hurt you. Whatever happened in the past doesn’t exist anymore; the only thing keeping it alive is your attention.
Shift Your Framing
If you’ve ever met a 35-year-old single woman who’s beginning to panic about how much time is left to settle down and start a family, you know how damaging and counterproductive it is to obsess about finding a significant other.
When that’s the metric by which you judge the quality of your existence, it creates a negative feedback loop. Being single triggers desperation, desperation is unattractive and scares off prospects, bringing you back to single and slightly older than before.
Focusing on what you don’t have is the surest way to perpetuate its absence. The mind’s eye can’t visualize a negative. So, if you’re shooting a free throw and thinking “don’t miss,” you’re more likely to miss. Because when you think “don’t miss” you picture the outcome you don’t want to happen.
Winners focus their minds on making the shot, not avoiding missing it.
That minor adjustment matters. If your self-image is that of an unhappy perpetually single person with terrible luck dating, that’s the reality you’ll create for yourself. Stop dwelling on the absence of romance in your life. Decide what you do want and make that the focal point of your life.
So Much Free Time
Always remind yourself that the grass is always greener on the other side. When you’re single, being in a committed relationship looks like the only answer to a rewarding, fulfilling life. A companion who’s there when you first wake up and when you lay down to bed. It’s so much more romantic on paper.
Trust me, your married friends are fantasizing about the story you told them about waking up at noon Saturday, eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the shower, and laying down for a nap. When you’re in the thick of it, the ever-present partner is suffocating. Annoying little habits are magnified.
Instead of worrying about what’s missing, appreciate the opportunities afforded to single people. Your married friends rely on you for hope and inspiration. Give them a single life worth living vicariously through.
Make Lots of Money
Nothing makes finding a relationship easier than boatloads of money. It makes singledom substantially more fun too. They say money can’t buy happiness, but it sure seems to bring it closer to within reach. Money moves lots of obstacles out of the way to happiness.
Sadly, this solution isn’t available to everyone. You can make more money – relative to your current salary — and still improve your position in the dating pool, but the big bags are a luxury limited to the lucky few.
It’s still a solution to being single and happy – just sayin’.
Develop Other Areas of Your Life
Focus on improving non-romantic aspects of your life. Set goals that when they’re achieved indirectly improve your odds of finding love. Either due to an indirect result of performing the activity raising your attractiveness or because it creates opportunities for you to socialize with your desired demographic.
The CrossFit junky girls seem to have a version of this figured out.
They get really obsessed with competing in the class,
their body composition undergoes a dramatic transformation,
and they become part of the gym regulars’ social circle.
And the CrossFit freaks all date each other, so by the time they’re a fully integrated member of the community, finding dating options is no longer a problem.
You can follow that same formula with a wide range of hobbies and exercise disciplines. Yoga, salsa dancing, hiking clubs, volunteer work, church – they all work. Pick one that will hold your interest.
Become a Prolific Dater
There are lots of reasons to be happy while single – it’s the best thing in the world if you’re able to keep a constant stream of companionship flowing. Nobody said being single has to mean being alone. Sometimes this approach can start to feel a tad empty and meaningless if you’re too casual sexually for too long, but it’s arguably better than being alone and without intimacy for extended periods. You just have to find the right balance.
Part of being a prolific dater while you’re single is never letting a bad experience break your spirit and knock you out of action. It’s just one big numbers game and almost none of it is personal. Weird things happen when strangers interact, lines get crossed – clashes and mishaps are inevitable.
Take every shot you see for a predetermined length of time. You’ll gain valuable skills for when you meet someone you really like and get comfortable with rejection, so it’s not scary anymore. You’ll be too distracted to be unhappy.
Or you’ll strike out 100% of the time, drive yourself mad, and become an incel. I sincerely hope not — I’m just saying it’s within the realm of possibility. I don’t know how bad you are at this stuff. If things feel like they’re headed that way, I suggest lowering your standards. You’ll eventually discover the dating pool that your social strata have access to.
Prepare for Singledom
Sometimes we are blindsided by a relationship ending and utterly unprepared to be single again. It’s like MMA or boxing: it’s the shots you don’t see coming that lay you out. The chin takes the full weight of the shot; there’s no time to brace yourself or block.
Most of the time, however, a long-term relationship coming to an end is a gradual process. By the time someone acknowledges it, you both already have coworkers you’re daydreaming about – maybe even a “work spouse” or two. At this point, the only things keeping a relationship together are habit and complacency.
Then the arguments get more bitter for a stretch, followed by a kind of disdainful apathy. Once you’re in the apathy stage, the relationship has a month left tops. So, why not mentally and socially prepare for the inevitable? Why waste your energy on a long, grinding, unwinnable battle?
I’m an advocate for getting a head start on the single life. And it’s easier to find a new mate when you already have one – the same rule as with jobs. Don’t wait until after the breakup to start the mourning process. By the time you’re ready to get back out there, you’ve been single for a few months. Then you still need to meet someone and cultivate a relationship.
If done correctly, the breakup day will feel less like heartbreak and more like a starter’s pistol going off. It’s the day you and your work spouse can finally drop the pretenses. Sounds about as happy as someone newly single can be.
You’d also be surprised by how often cheating on your partner will suddenly renew your passion for them. Your single life preparations may accidentally save your relationship.
Get a Weird Kink or Fetish
If you’re single and unhappy, something about the way you’re living your life isn’t working. Maybe your social life needs a massive shakeup. A total break from the norm. Something so thrilling and appalling that it consumes every free minute of your life.
The more extreme and bizarre you go, the more all-encompassing the kink or fetish becomes. You’ll inevitably find and become active in a small but dedicated online community that exists for this one specific niche. You could be a Brony, or a Furry, or something more Japanese.
It’s not the path to happiness I would personally take but it’ll work for some people. Get weird with it! Keep it legal though!