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It’s no secret that we live in a world that romanticises intimate relationships. We’re told from a young age that coupling up is important. It’s communicated through the ‘happily ever after’ endings in the movies we watch and through the expectations of family, friends and society. It’s no wonder that so many of us struggle with the idea that if we’re not dating someone, we’re somehow missing out. But being alone isn’t the same thing as being lonely. In fact, there are a whole bunch of benefits to flying solo — from spending your time purposefully, to nourishing the friendships in your life.

So, if you’re single and having a tough time finding an upside, here’s a fun list of things you can try.

Know your value

Man looking in mirror saying You got this

Look, self-affirmations aren’t limited to your auntie’s inspirational Live, Laugh, Love fridge magnets; they’re actually a great way to remind yourself of your strengths and attributes. It’s not some woo-woo theory, either — there’s real-life science behind the benefits of talking yourself up. According to Positive Psychology, self-affirmations can help you to increase your confidence, overcome bad habits, be more productive, and nip negative feelings in the bud before they can take hold. Try to work some positive one-on-one time into your daily routine – whether you spend it speaking to yourself in the mirror, or meditating on some self-loving mantras while out in nature.

Some good self-affirmations to start with might include:

  • I’m generous
  • I’m kind
  • I’m good at my job
  • I’m valued
  • I’m loved
  • I’m creative
  • I’m capable
  • I’m grateful for (insert something personal to you).

Take yourself on a date

Person sitting alone in movie theatre

Most couples will tell you they spend a lot of time um-ing and ah-ing over which movie to watch; which restaurant to order dinner from; which TV show to binge on Netflix. One of the many challenges of a relationship is learning to compromise and to consider another person’s desires and opinions — which is totally fine and healthy if you’re in a relationship. But if you happen to be single, you’re in the lucky position of being able to take yourself on amazing dates on a whim.

You can sleep in as long as you want, then stroll to a new cafe on the other side of town and tuck into eggs cooked just the way you like them, while reading a great book (or do the same thing at home). You can stack the arms of your reclining chair with your favourite candy bar treats and settle into a legs-up Gold Class lounge to watch that new movie featuring your favourite actor. You deserve to treat yourself, and the idea that ‘date night’ should be exclusively for couples just ain’t true.

Commit to yourself

Man hugging himself saying Ive got you

The one person you can always count on to be there for you is you. That’s why it’s important to make a bunch of commitments to yourself: to be gentle with yourself, to look after yourself, and to be grateful for all the great things in your life. We’re regularly told that finding a partner will make us happy, but the real challenge in gaining any long-term contentment is to have a good, kind and healthy relationship with yourself – and that’s a process you can commit to right now by putting some of the above ideas into practice. Start investing time in broadening your horizons and expressing yourself, treating yourself to things you enjoy, connecting with people who understand and appreciate you, and talking kindly to yourself. You’ll be thanking yourself in no time.

Pick up some hobbies

Person with black hair using pottery wheel

One benefit of having some time to yourself is the freedom to explore new hobbies. It’s important to remember that hobbies aren’t just for retirees and kids – they are a really great and fun way to help you structure your time. Stepping outside of your comfort zone – whether it’s by taking a painting class, trying your hand at pottery, or getting into a community team sport – can help you foster fun new social connections, encourage your creativity, and add interesting new parts to your personality. Not only that, but who knows what passions you’ll uncover in the process? Maybe you’ve got a secret knack for cross-stitch or a talent for dribbling a soccer ball!

Strengthen your friendships

Friends having a picnic

Whether online or in real life, our friendships are a super-important part of building community and a sense of connection. Focusing on your relationships with close friends can be a nice way of reminding yourself that ‘romantic’ isn’t the only kind of love – and that a solid friendship can be just as enduring, special and meaningful as any long-term partnership. As such, it’s nice to put time and effort into strengthening the friendships that mean the most to you – these are people who love and care about you. If you have room in your life to connect with new people, there are loads of ways to do that, too – including via the very welcoming ReachOut forums.

At the end of the day, our culture isn’t about to stop celebrating romance, but you can choose to not let this influence how you feel in your day-to-day life. You can be happy and fulfilled, regardless of your relationship status – and you deserve nothing less.

What can I do now?