As I attempt to navigate the complicated waters of 20-something relationships, I continue to make mistake after mistake. After my most recent relationship-but-not debacle, I’ve officially decided to swear off of relationships (and not-relationships). I’m thinking that I’ll jump back into the dating scene in a few years, when my peers decide labeling is a good thing again. However, I’ve been in back-to-back relationships for as long as I can remember and my best friends honestly doubt that I even know how to be single.
And they might be right, so it’s time to try and prove them wrong.
Focus on yourself. Apparently, this is a thing. When conquering the single life, it’s important to focus on yourself instead of focusing on finding The One. Work out. Eat better. Take up that hobby that you’ve been putting off. Being single allows you to spend time on yourself without feeling guilty about neglecting your person. If you’re like me and you’re used to factoring another person into your schedule, this one is hard but possible… I think.
Clean up your act. It’s time to put down the bottle of wine and stay in on Saturday nights. Bars and parties just lead to awkward one night stands, which can lead to even more awkward mornings. Sobriety is highly underrated in your 20s. It’s easy to abuse substances and go out on the weekends in an effort to ignore the fact that you’re single, but I can tell you right now that you’re (probably) not going to meet The One at a house party or over a bowl of stale bar popcorn.
Stay off of Facebook. When the majority of your FB friends are also 20-somethings, seeing their engagement photos and mushy statuses about being in love is bound to make you feel shitty about the single life. Sure, you don’t have to worry about where you go or who you hang out with, but you also don’t have someone sending you “good morning” texts.
Hang out with your friends. This one should go without saying but, for someone who’s used to being in a relationship, it can be difficult. (Hopefully you weren’t the type of person that sacrificed all of your friendships to hang out with your significant other, because you could be in tough shape in this department.) Make plans to hang out with your friends (sans alcohol) on a regular basis. Surprisingly, a relationship isn’t the only cure for loneliness.
Learn to let go. It’s impossible to be single and happy when you’re running through all of the moments you’ve had with the people you’ve loved. Put away photos and gifts. Don’t think about all the great characteristics of your exes – it ended for a reason and it’s just not productive. Be thankful that he or she was in your life for whatever amount of time, and move on.
Ignore the media. You’re in your 20s. Stop thinking about marriage and babies. Don’t pay attention to the people in your life that you’re becoming an old maid or the media expectations for your future. Being a bachelor is seen as a wonderful, kickass lifestyle that is the envy of married men everywhere – so, ladies, it’s time for us to have bachelorette pads and enjoy ourselves, too.
Learn to depend on yourself. Being single means not having an automatic date every weekend. It means going places without a plus one. It means awkwardly pulling out your phone and scrolling through Twitter when you feel out of place around your coupled-up friends. But it also means that you can make plans without consulting someone else first. It means that you can learn to be yourself and find an independence that only exists in the world of singles.
Figure out what you want. When you bounce from relationship to relationship, it’s hard to know what went wrong and why. Take some time to think about what you want in a partner – and what you don’t want. Date people that you wouldn’t normally consider your “type.” Figure out what your priorities are and stick to them; there’s no point to dating someone that you know it’ll never work out with. Don’t settle for someone just because you don’t want to be alone.
Make a change. I’ve had so many friends that haven’t dyed their hair or haven’t gotten tattoos or haven’t (insert anything here) because their significant other “wasn’t into it.” When you’re alone, you can change your life in any way you want without worrying about what your SO is going to think… Because you don’t have one. So dye your hair pink. Grow a mustache. You do you.
Being alone is a difficult journey when you’re a 20-something. But being alone doesn’t equate to being lonely.