Can you be single and happy?
Most adults would recognize that while this is indeed possible, there exists a rather large gap between acknowledging something can be true, and it actually being true for you.
Valentine’s Day Anxiety
As Buddhist philosophy points out, we constantly tell untruthful stories about ourselves, and these untruths are generally of the negative sort.
If you are single and dateless for Valentine’s Day, like I am, maybe some of these thoughts are floating around your head:
“I’m a loser”
“My friends have better lives than me”.
In the past, I had these thoughts. But a better understanding of the human experience has banished these ruinous ideas from my life.
In the hope of easing some anxiety about being single and dateless, here are four lies that I used to tell myself about love, romance, and Valentine’s Day.
1. I would be so much happier if I had a partner.
Here is a thought experiment: Think of the worst person you have ever dated. You probably didn’t enter into the arrangement thinking “this person is going to be the worst person ever”.
Yet it happened.
If all the other people you have dated in the past weren’t right for you, what makes you so sure the next person will be?
While it’s good to have hope, it’s better to have realistic expectations.
When we fantasize about dating, we generally don’t fantasize in a realistic fashion. We fantasize about what makes us feel good, we fantasize about our dream scenario. We fantasize about having what we think our friends must have (because we just can’t stop comparing ourselves to others).
We never fantasize about what probably will occur: we meet a pretty ordinary person with all the mental hangups that we have.
Sadly, and with much reservation, I now accept that I won’t be meeting a single, salsa dancing, high IQ, bikini model who will read Shakespeare with me.
Such is life.
2. I need physical intimacy.
While I am quite liberal by nature, my attitudes towards sex have become much more conservative as I’ve gotten older. I know many people will disagree with me, but I think Western culture’s obsession with sex leads to ridiculous notions as to its importance in life.
In fact, it can be downright destructive.
Napoleon Hill writes in “Think and Grow Rich”,
“So strong and impelling is the desire for sexual contact that men freely run the risk of life and reputation to indulge it. When harnessed, and redirected along other lines, this motivating force maintains all of its attributes of keenness of imagination, courage, etc., which may be used as powerful creative forces in literature, art, or in any other profession or calling, including, of course, the accumulation of riches.”
As Hill stated when speaking of men risking their reputation in search of sex, its lure can lead both men and women into poor decision making. Young people, and even older people, waste an inordinate amount of time thinking and reading about it; just examine the cover of every woman’s magazine at the supermarket checkout line.
If you are single and without a partner, you can channel that sexual energy into something else rather than brooding on it: athletics, intellectual pursuits, or creative ventures.
As the great Montaigne wrote in his “Essays”
“…neither riches, glory, nor health has any more beauty and pleasure than its possessor lends it. Each man is as well off or as badly off as he thinks he is. Not the man of whom it is thought, but the one who thinks it of himself, is happy. Any by just this fact belief joins reality and truth”
If you put anything up on a pedestal and label it a “must have”, you’ll be disappointed when it’s not readily available.
On the other hand, lack of sex isn’t going to make you unhappy if you don’t believe in its extreme importance to begin with.
3. I need a deep emotional connection with a “special someone”.
Without a doubt, humans need connection, but it doesn’t have to involve a romantic partner. Western culture, and the dating-industrial complex, shove the idea of a “special someone” down our collective throats.
Yet social and emotional connection with a romantic partner is just one model of how to view adult relationships, and it’s not one deeply rooted in human history, nor shared universally around the world.
Emotional connections can be found on many levels, particularly through friendship.
You have to dispense with the idea that only a romantic partner can provide you with a deep emotional connection. As a formerly disconnected person, I know this not to be the case.
If you want a deeper emotional connection with people, all you have to do is connect. But to connect you have to be willing to do certain things.
Be interested in others. Open yourself up. Expose a vulnerable side.
I know this can sound scary. But what are you scared of? Being human? What human isn’t vulnerable? Who hasn’t been hurt and felt great pain?
Accepting my ordinary humanness has allowed me to feel more connected to a greater number of people than ever before, and I can’t even remember the last time I was on a date.
The more connected you are with people around you, the less you feel lonely, even on Valentines’ Day.
4. I’m a loser.
No, you’re not.
This belief is likely based on a story that you are telling yourself: all the happy people with fabulous lives are going out and having an amazing time on Valentine’s Day with their special someone.
Clearly this is just a lie we tell ourselves.
The reality is probably closer to what Chris Rock has observed about human nature:
“you can be married and bored, or single and lonely, ain’t no happiness nowhere”.
This statement is only true because of the thought processes of the people involved.
With the proper perspective and thought process, you don’t have to be single and lonely.
You can be single, fulfilled, and proud.
So there you go, four lies I have told myself previously, but now know not to be true (for me). Perhaps you can identify with them, perhaps you can’t. Either way, I hope you experience an anxiety-less Valentine’s Day!
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