There is a great myth out there being sold wholesale to single people: You’re incomplete if you do not have a partner. There’s also the time sensitive version: You’re incomplete–and a failure–if you do not have a partner by age X.
I’ve got news for you, people. This is complete and utter bullshit.
Where does it come from? Everywhere. Your parents, neighbors, bosses, billboards. The idea also works well in novels, screenplays, and love songs. And unfortunately it tends to put women in the trapped position of being both passive and culpable: “What’s wrong with you? Why does a nice girl like you not have someone? Why hasn’t the right person come along for you?”
The biggest problem, however, comes when we buy it. And keep buying it. Far too many of us do. So my advice? STOP SPENDING MONEY IN THE MYTH SHOP. Every time you talk about it, believe it, prove it to yourself, and try to convince other people that you are a washed up, useless thing because you’re unmarried, or about as lovable as a lone sock, you are ponying up cash to the myth shop and keeping it in business. Put your wallet away, please.
Time to Evolve Your Thinking
The idea that a lifelong pair-bond is the ultimate and only worthwhile expression of a life well lived is predicated on the notion that the single life is flawed, empty, and worthless. That you couldn’t possibly be happy without a steady partner, bound by law, at your side. I vehemently disagree. (And you already know what I think about people who marry themselves.)
I’m not the only one who thinks that this is nuts, narrow-minded, not to mention rapidly becoming an outdated idea in the modern world. (Check out Bella DePaulo’s Singled Out, and while you’re at, this screamingly popular piece in the Atlantic by Kate Bolick, or Single By Choice in Boston magazine, where I was featured.)
No One Completes You
As a relationship and dating coach, a big part of my work is to help women (and men, by the way) see themselves as whole and complete, as independent single people who may have any number of fulfilling, intimate relationships (and yes, more than one at at time, in fact). To stop seeing their lives as stalled vehicles on the road to some Perfect Adult Life–and to start putting themselves in the driver’s seat and taking full advantage of the open road.
If this sounds like you, know that to lock onto this idea that there’s This One Perfect Person out there waiting and you’re on some crazy-making goose chase to find him is making your life worse, not better. You may think this is mature behavior, but that’s like saying a horse has a really wise and focused perspective because someone has slapped blinders on him.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What would it look like to take full advantage of your single life? Are you reading, traveling, doing the things you always said you wanted to do? Why not?
- What kinds of relationships would you want to be in? (Because single in my book means unmarried, not celibate.)
- What is holding you back from living a fuller life?
(Want to know if you’ve got what it takes to be single? Check out the quiz I wrote for Anderson Cooper.)
Until you can really visualize what life could be for you now, rather than what it would be if it was written by a Hollywood screenwriter, it’s hard to move things forward. And it’s time to get moving.