It’s that time of year again. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and it’s with very little surprise that I find myself still single 6 years and 3 months on from my last meaningful relationship – yes it really has been that long!
But am I miserable? Far from it. The past few years have been the best of my life, and it’s all because I made the decision to embrace being single and to focus on what truly makes me happy. The best advice I can give to anyone who’s miserable about being alone this weekend is to celebrate the most important person in your life – YOU! Here are a few tips on enjoying being single on Valentine’s Day, and every other day of the year.
It’s scientifically proven that exercise helps lift your mood by releasing endorphins. The fact that it also improves your health and your figure can only be a good thing. But lets not forget that participation in most sports is a lot of FUN! Think of something random you’ve never tried. Surfing? Fencing? Sledging? Fire poi? As long as it gets the heart rate up, it will make you feel good. Do a team sport and meet new friends (and potentially even a new partner!). Call me crazy, but I get my kicks racing the public buses home from work. Don’t treat exercise like a chore. Once you get used to it being part of your routine, it can easily become addictive. What’s more, there’s no question that having a cool sport as a hobby will make you instantly more interesting and attractive to others.
2. Raise Money for Charity
Raising money for a charity is hugely rewarding. It also helps to put your problems in perspective. Maybe you are a bit lonely, but in the grand scheme of things, if that’s your only complaint life really hasn’t treated you that badly. Fundraising will also give you a focus. As you rush around organising cake sales and speed dating events, you’ll barely have a spare second to think about your solitude. You’ll also get a warm fuzzy feeling every time your account receives a donation. Choose an exciting activity as your fundraising goal. Run a marathon, jump out of a plane, or plan a completely unique challenge. There are plenty of crazy activities that will make you feel even better about yourself once you’ve completed them and, once again, in the process, you open yourself up to the greater possibility of meeting someone special.
3. Travel Alone
Who cares if you don’t have a significant other to take your annual holidays with? Solo travel is actually more exciting. If you’re not confident about going it completely alone, consider an organised tour where you will meet a group of interesting people from many different countries. Otherwise, hop on a plane and launch yourself straight into the single backpacker hostel life. It really is surprisingly easy to meet friendly, interesting people this way, and travelling alone will force you to make the effort to be sociable. Not only will you have some incredible experiences, you will increase in confidence, you will learn to be more self-sufficient and less dependent on anyone else, and you will come home with great stories to regale future dates with (not to mention a sexy tan).
4. Volunteer Overseas
There are thousands of projects you can take part in overseas, but actually finding a good one isn’t as easy as you might think. A lot of them are run by organisations that charge you a small fortune just for the privilege of offering your time. It’s no surprise that this puts many people off. Choose a well-run organisation that understands how to make the best use of your skills and time. For Europeans, Pueblo Ingles is an incredibly rewarding opportunity to teach Spanish speakers English. Not only do you receive free accommodation and food for an entire week in Spain, you will meet incredible people and laugh harder than you ever have before. If you fancy going further afield, Hostel Hoff is a hostel in Tanzania at the base of Kilimanjaro, where you can stay with other volunteers while working on a wide range of community projects.
5. Spend Quality Time With Your Friends
We’ve all been guilty of ditching our friends in favour of a quiet night in with the other half. When you’re in a relationship, nights out don’t give you the same sense of anticipation because you’ve already found ‘the one’. That’s all very well, but your close friends are some of the most important people you will ever have in your life and reconnecting with them will remind you why you clicked in the first place.
6. Start a New Hobby
You have more spare time when you’re not in a relationship and you also have more freedom. You don’t have to consider someone else’s opinion whenever you make an important life decision. There is no compromise and this can be dangerously liberating. Sit back and think about what truly makes you happy. Then try to figure out a way of introducing more of it to your life. This blog is my example. I loved to travel and I worked in publishing. By starting a blog, I was killing two birds with one stone – adding new skills to my CV and increasing my opportunities to travel more in the future. A little fate intervened and, thanks to meeting a fellow blogger on Pueblo Ingles (see point 4) and taking an extended solo trip through South America (point 3), my blog has become more than a hobby to me. In the past two years, I’ve met hundreds of amazing people through blogging events, learned a great deal about travel and reached a point where I’m sometimes sponsored to experience tours and activities I never would have dreamt of doing before. With enough initiative and effort, plenty of people have turned their hobbies into new careers, and there’s no reason to think that you can’t do the same.
7. Reinvent Yourself
Relationships make many of us slip into the ‘comfort’ zone. We’ve won the other person over and we’re no longer competing with others for that special person’s attention. Unfortunately, this can make us complacent and the amount of effort we put into making ourselves desirable can dwindle. When you find yourself single, why not have a little fun? Get a dramatic makeover, or better yet, try developing aspects of your personality. I’m not saying ‘Don’t be yourself.’ Just see how working on your best traits can make a difference to your relationships. If you’re naturally reserved, try approaching more strangers. If you’re confident and outspoken, see what happens when you tone it down and introduce a little more romance. Often, the biggest barrier to change is fear of the way people who know you will react. When you’re surrounded by strangers, they won’t know any differently. Reinvent yourself while trying out new hobbies or travelling and as you test out new versions of yourself, you’ll get a better idea of the person you want to be and the person you want others to perceive you as.
8. Enjoy the Dating Scene
Remind yourself that the first few months of a relationship are often the most exciting. As a single person, those wonderful butterflies might be just around the corner. Try to perceive dating as an opportunity to meet interesting people, rather than a route to finding the person you’ll end up marrying, and you will get so much more out of it. More and more people these days are resorting to online dating or apps like Tinder. You have to be realistic when meeting up with someone you only know from a limited profile. The chances that you’ll be a perfect match romantically are pretty slim, but you can still have a fun date.
9. Make the Most of Your Personal Space
As a single person, it’s easy to forget that spending a lot of time with someone else can sometimes make you feel smothered. Enjoy the simple benefits to singledom. Stretch out your limbs from one side of the bed to the other. Forget the frustration of listening to your partner snore. Eat a litre of ice cream straight from the tub in the blissful knowledge that no one is judging you. Watch re-runs of Geordie Shore if that rocks your boat. Walk around your flat in your ugliest pyjamas. Chat openly with your friends about new crushes and old conquests. You no longer have to compromise on anything. Make the most of it!
10. Accept That You Are Amazing!
If you work on steps 1-9, you won’t have time to pine over ex-lovers or to pity yourself for not having found a new one. You’ll be too busy having fun. Your life will have focus. You will be spending more time on the things you love to do. You will be rewarded by the smiles of people whose lives you have touched along the way. Your friendship group will grow so big you struggle to decide which social invites to accept. You will develop new skills. A lack of enthusiasm for your daily routine will be replaced with excitement and anticipation. You’ll be such an inspiration that your married friends will wish they were still single. You will open yourself up to new ways of meeting future lovers and you will have hundreds of interesting tales to tell when you eventually do meet someone worthy of your attention.
You, yourself, as much as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. – Buddha
They say you find true love when you stop looking for it. While I don’t believe you should give up the search, I think it’s much more important to focus your energy on doing what makes you happy. This free-spirited approach will make you more attractive. Confidence, self-contentedness, independence, enthusiasm and optimism are all positive traits that will ensure that when you do find the one, they’ll never want to let you go.