Marketing departments love them, as does the taxman. Singles can devote time and energy to finding their next relationship, but how about allowing yourself a little space for personal development?
The rise of the single
A hundred years ago singles didn’t exist as a category within society. These days, of course, singles are discussed all over the media. “The need to share one’s life with another person is instilled with us from a very early age,” explains singles expert Eric Hegmann. Even our bodies are predisposed towards one-on-one relationships: long-term studies have shown that the immune systems of single people are often weaker than those of people with a partner.
Priorities: your immune system or being free and single?
If our biology predisposes us to monogamy, it is because - when it comes down to it - we are designed to procreate and perpetuate the human race. But being single can also be a lot of fun, even as you prepare yourself to become half of a couple once again. How, though, do you make the most of your single life?
After a break-up, when you are feeling sorry for yourself, you will tend to dwell on the past rather than look forward to the future. But it will do you good to devote your energies to something positive: you are now free to think about doing the things you’d like to do … Go out on all-nighter with your old friends … Build a Scalextric track in your bedroom … Watch a box set of Dynasty … You can pick up on your old single habits – or maybe try something new. Set out on an exhilarating little voyage of self-discovery, and you are likely to find out that you can manage very well on your own … and the more you enjoy your free time, the greater your chances probably are of meeting someone special.
The spirit of adventure
It can take a while to get used to the idea of being accountable to no-one but yourself. You don’t have to think about the wishes and needs of ‘your other half’ or of the people connected to you through them. Everyone knows that it’s not a good idea to ‘play away’ when you are in a relationship, but as a single you can do what you like … from a little gentle flirting to a one-night stand - provided you feel good about it and are not playing fast and loose with anyone else’s feelings or life. There is more to this than playing the field, though: you are building an idea of the kind of person who could be right for a long-term relationship.
When you’re least expecting it
You might have spent months or even years longing for your Prince (or Princess) Charming to turn up and, just when you were giving up on the idea, he or she suddenly appears … across a photocopier at the office or at a friend’s birthday party, or on a dating website. Suddenly, everything falls into place. You can’t really predict when this well happen, but you need to remember that it’s you and your happiness that matter most - not what’s happened to you in the past and not some theoretical partner you haven’t yet met. And sometimes you have to help destiny along just a little, whether by contacting your matches on Parship or by going out on the town and meeting new people.
Three weeks or five years?
Three months ago, Wendy broke up with John after they’d been together for seven years. John was gutted and spent three weeks moping. Then, he decided to start planning a diving holiday with some friends (Wendy wasn’t into diving), went to Barcelona for the weekend (Wendy used to prefer a weekend in the country) and got back into some of his old habits from the pre-Wendy era. Two months later he was thinking about moving in with his new girlfriend. Did he take it all too quickly? Well, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to love. As Eric Hegmann explains: “For every person who finds a new girlfriend or boyfriend within weeks, there is someone who needs months, or even years to feel ready to embark on a new relationship.”
Finding the right moment
But how do you know when it’s the right moment for a new relationship. “In general you need to have put your last relationship behind you before you start a new one,” says Eric Hegmann. “There’s danger in taking your emotional luggage from the last relationship - your experiences, fears and concerns - into a new one. You don’t want your ex to be involved: three’s a crowd!” When the right person comes along, you will just know; you will have a gut feeling about him or her. Don’t let yourself be driven by fear of being alone; don’t put yourself under pressure. It is much better to come to terms with your situation and let things take their course, guiding things along as you feel is appropriate.
What happens, though, if time doesn’t heal your wounds and if being single really bothers you? What if you withdraw into yourself and don’t feel like doing anything any more? Then you should consider getting some professional help. “The end of a relationship can create a great feeling of loss - and that can have a negative effect on your entire being. If you are not able to work through this loss on your own, there is no shame in talking to a therapist,” says Eric Hegmann. “Loss and the fear of loss are among the most common reasons that people turn to therapy.” The majority of people, though, manage to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again. While relatively few people choose singledom as their preferred lifestyle, most people who have spent some time on their own come to realise that single life can have its advantages too.