How Can Being Single Improve your Mental Health?

This piece by Ashley Laderer was originally published on Talkspace.

 

Let’s get one thing straight: Being single doesn’t mean you’re going to be forever alone. If nothing else, being single is a learning experience — one that happens to be good for your mental health, believe it or not.

So stop stressing over those seemingly endless (and cliché) “I SAID YES!” posts everyone shares on Instagram, and start appreciating the benefits of single life. Here are some ways being single is actually beneficial to your mental well-being.

 

1. You can get to know yourself better.

Riding solo is an excellent way to get to know the real love of your life — you! Having a partner is nice and all, but sometimes it can make you lose sight of your true self. By spending time alone, you have the opportunity to be introspective.

Get reacquainted with your core values. Think about all the things that make you smile, the people you love, and the things that make you get out of bed in the morning. Remember what makes your heart feel full and what accomplishments you’ve achieved on your own that make you feel proud.

2. You can learn how to be comfortable being alone.

In my opinion, this is one of the most important skills you can learn. Being alone doesn’t have to be the same thing as being lonely! While in a relationship, it’s easy to get used to always having someone around, and the adjustment to single life can be hard. Society programs us to think that doing things alone is bad or embarrassing. It’s not! In fact, it’s empowering. Once you’ve mastered the art of comfortably being alone, many doors will open for you, and then even going out to dinner by yourself won’t seem like a big deal at all!

3. You can explore new interests.

It’s easy to get caught up in a routine with your partner and fall into a rut of doing the same old same old (Netflix and takeout, anyone?) On your own, you can pursue interests and hobbies that you’ve always wanted to try but didn’t because your partner was holding you back or didn’t want to try it out with you.

You know what? Now you can try it out by yourself! It can be a little scary at first, but it’s a good thing to take a step out of your comfort zone — not to mention, it can be incredibly rewarding!

4. You come first.

Compromise? What’s that? It’s all about you, baby! In a relationship, you’re basically expected to put your partner first, but being single, you get to be a little selfish, because you come first! Finally, you can indulge in all that self-care stuff you’ve been hearing about. Pamper yourself, treat yourself, and learn to love yourself and boost your confidence. No more arguing over what you’re going to have for dinner or watch on TV.

5. You can play the field.

Now’s your time to explore being with different types of people — even types you wouldn’t normally date — to see what you might like or dislike. You should give this a go especially if you’ve been in a very long-term relationship or been in relationships with the same type of person (if you’re like me, a lineup of aspiring musicians). You can learn more about your preferences — who you vibe well with and who you don’t. Getting to know different types of people can help you out in fostering healthy relationships in the future.

6. You can explore your sexuality.

Let’s say your previous partner wasn’t into a certain kink that you really wanted to explore. Well, here’s your chance to find someone with the same sexual interests as you and try new things. Revel in the sexual freedom that being single has to offer. Even if you aren’t having sex with a partner (or partners), you can still explore your sexuality solo. Masturbation is an excellent way to learn what feels good to you, so you can later relay that information onto a partner. Remember, sex is good for your mental health!

7. You can have stronger friendships.

Chances are, you’ve experienced the case of the disappearing friend — the one who is MIA while in a relationship because they put their partner way before they put their friends. Maybe you’ve even been guilty of being that friend. Well, being single gives you more time to devote to your friendships and even more space in your heart for them. Bonus: research shows that having strong friendships reduces some health risks like high blood pressure!

8. You’re more likely to be physically active.

If it hasn’t been drilled into your head enough yet, exercise is extremely beneficial to mental health, so go ahead and take yourself on a date to a fitness class! Studies show that single people are more likely to exercise regularly and meet the recommended amount of weekly physical activity. Take that, married people!

To all my single friends out there, I hope you’re feeling better about your relationship status now. Flying solo is nothing to be ashamed of, and with all the benefits that come along with single life, who wouldn’t want to be alone for a little while?