I’m only 25 years old, but surely I have some advice to give on being single!
I’ve wanted to, you know, not be single for about five years now, but it just hasn’t happened and I have no idea when or even if it will. For now, I just have to be content watching others date, marry, and have kids. Over those years I’ve faced a lot of struggles and had to learn some lessons along the way. For Christians out there that would like to be married, but it only seems to be happening to everybody but you, here is some advice.
1) Realize that marriage and romance is not the end-all-be-all of life.
People seem to see romance as the highest pinnacle of human happiness, even going as far as to say that you cannot have a fully fulfilling life without it. If that’s true, how sad it would be for people who just never seem to attain this god-like gift! It’s simply not true though. It’s good, it’s pleasurable, it brings a lot of happiness, but it is not the most important thing in life, not the absolute source of all of your happiness, and not the ultimate source of fulfillment. Back when I thought that it was the ultimate source of all happiness and fulfillment, I was miserable because I was single and didn’t see that changing anytime soon. Knowing that it isn’t has helped quite a bit.
2) Cultivate intimacy with friends.
When I speak of intimacy, I’m not talking about sex. While sex is intimate, not all intimacy involves sex or romance. I primarily see intimacy as emotional closeness with another person, though emotional closeness can bring a degree of physical closeness as well. Intimacy is not something relegated to a romantic relationship alone. I think girls do pretty well at this. It’s easier in our society for girls to say they love each other and hug without it seeming weird, but it’s harder for guys. I think that’s unfortunate. Guys should also be willing to pursue intimacy with their male friends. Think of Frodo and Sam from The Lord of the Rings, or David and Jonathan in the Old Testament (1 Samuel), or Cory and Shawn from Boy Meets World. I have male friends that I deeply love with a strong, brotherly affection. I can talk to them about all of my deepest emotions and hear about theirs. It’s a very comforting thing. I also love hugs! I get a lot of joy out of hugging my friends or even leaning on their shoulders. I think people who cultivate intimacy with friends will find a lot of their relational needs fulfilled. Not all of them, but many. This goes a long way in fighting the singleness pangs.
3) Have an overarching purpose in your life.
As singles, we can often times let our singleness and our desire for a spouse rule our entire lives, which sours our moods and makes us miserable (or am I just talking about me?). Having a purpose in life that we’re working towards and trying to fulfill can help fight against that tendency. When I’m just sitting around doing nothing, it’s easy to live in my thoughts and dwell on the things that I don’t have, but when I’m working towards something; trying to accomplish something, that does not happen. For example, in the last year or so I have been working hard towards graduating college, preparing for graduate school, and applying for a Summer seminar at Yale. Working towards those goals seems to get me out of my head and help me realize that there is much more to my life than who I am, or am not, dating. When that happens, it’s not such a big deal anymore, so I’m not so emotional about it. It won’t take away the desire fully, but it will keep it from becoming an obsession.
4) They’re struggling too.
I know it’s hard to believe, but people in romantic relationships are struggling too. Married folks have certain pleasures in life that singles don’t, but they gained those pleasures at the cost of others that only singles typically have access to. Married folks also have struggles that singles typically don’t have to deal with. In either situation in life, there are going to be struggles and pleasures. Really, you might as well be content now.
This does not take all of the loneliness or pining that singles feel, and this isn’t some three-step program that I guarantee will make all singles feel better as long as they follow it, but these are things that I’ve learned these last five years that have helped me quite a bit.