Why This Psychotherapist Wants You to Reconsider What It Means to Be Single

If you feel down about not being in a relationship, read this.

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Getty Images

A client of mine recently told me how he’d been asked to be set up by acquaintances four times in the past two months. It’s great that people are thinking about him, however, one must wonder about their motivation. Do they take pity on him and feel compelled to think of any single person they know to introduce him to, or do they actually think he has some great qualities and that the other person does too and they’d hit it off?

I believe it is the former.

A common affliction has been plaguing people for decades and has been on the rise. Those afflicted experience embarrassment, shame, and sadness. The worse they feel, the more the disease is exacerbated. There are clinics and support groups, countless books and specialists, and even reality shows to tackle the problem. If it gets severe enough it might lead to self-doubt, anxiety, sleepless nights, depression, and could even land you in therapy or to take medication. There are both acute and chronic cases. The disease elicits sympathy from family and friends, and maybe even the clerk at your local dry cleaners. No one wants to catch it and everyone wants to cure it. Wondering why you haven’t heard of this disease yet? You have, and it’s called Being Single.

Folks, I’ve got news for you. Being single is not a disease and it does not mean the person is flawed or inferior. Yet, people are quick to jump to an explanation that offers a reason why someone is single. “He’s too picky,” or “She looks good and is single, so she must be psycho or bitchy,” for example.

Sure, maybe in some cases there’s an obvious reason why someone is single and they might sabotage relationships, but the vast majority of the time, being single is by choice. It’s only thought to be a problem in society because of assumptions that are made that people should be in a relationship, or should be married or have kids by a certain age.

These societal pressures along with biological factors weigh heavily on this. There’s no doubt being partnered has its benefits: it provides security, someone to grow old with, someone to take care of you, a partner to have kids with, and of course, love. But that doesn’t mean not being married is a problem.

And it begs the question: Why do people feel someone is broken, flawed or desperately in need of a partner so that they’re no longer single? Societal standards dictate many things, including how life should unfold for people. It goes something like this: go to school, maybe go to college or work, date some people, develop your career, meet that special someone, settle, get married, have kids, and live happily ever after behind that white picket fence. Well, we all know life doesn’t always work out according to that outdated standard that still seems to influence matters of love. Nonetheless, those who don’t follow that script are sometimes seen as different, a free spirit, or maybe even afraid of commitment.

Imagine flipping this issue on its head and asking married people, “Why are you married?”  I’m guessing you might get a few strange looks, but people might actually ponder the question and really ask themselves why they are married.  Is it because they truly love the person and want to grow old with him or her, or is it because they felt they needed to fulfill certain societal expectations?

Society needs to change their view of singlehood. Rather than trying to rid people of it, they should take the time to understand why someone actually is single.  It might simply be by choice. Just as it would be inappropriate to ask married people why they’re married, it’s probably not the kindest thing to ask someone why they’re single, at least with the assumption that something must be wrong with them.

Rather than see it as a problem that needs to be addressed or solved, being single should be viewed as a choice. People should make a distinction between what is a problem, and what isn’t. An inability to support oneself, debt, violating the law, poor health, and drug and alcohol issues are real problems and worthy of intervention, but being single isn’t.




To learn more about healthy living, check out my book, BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days.

A former version of this article was originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com

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