Embracing Singledom in your Mid-Twenties

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Photo Courtesy of Extra Medium / Flickr

You are killing it – reveling in your mid-20s, New York City-style singledom. You are dancing with gorgeous strangers on the crowded dance floor of No Malice Palace, kissing first dates on the subway platform, and using your way with words to sext the OkCupid/Coffee Meets Bagel/Bumble man-of-the-week into a frenzy. Even better than all this? It occupies less than 20% of your time or thoughts.

A Masters under your belt, you’ve just started working at a new job that is challenging, exciting, and rewarding – and doesn’t demand more than 45 hours a week (a blessing, after your last job). Now that you’ve got the time, you’re spending it doing what’s most important to you. Your weekends are packed. You’re reconnecting with old friends and building new relationships. You’re hitting the gym, flying through books, and trying out new recipes that your mother and friends send you. You are, undoubtedly, happy.

But then something happens: you meet a good guy. A write-home-to-your-mother kind of guy. And, for a few months, you’re floating. You realize that there is space in your life for someone who deserves to be there. You rediscover your standards for a partner – standards that you’ve always held your friends to, but somehow never held the men in your life to. You feel like you’ve finally found an equal.

But, like most good things, it comes to an end. You have an adult conversation about it, and you head in different directions. Blame them, blame yourself, blame timing, or blame the stars – regardless, it ends, and you’re thrown back into singledom.

Singledom feels a lot harder now. Don’t get me wrong: you’re still working at a job you love, you’re still cooking and working out and spending time with people who bring you true joy. But singledom feels different. It’s no longer a place you dwell happily. It now seems like a desert island of awkward sex and men that just can’t hold a goddamn conversation. You find yourself in “I am going to die alone and I’m still not convinced my cat won’t eat me” spirals an average of twice (okay, thrice) a week. You find yourself staring down cute couples in the coffee shop where you’re trying to work. When you finally find yourself Googling “Lace Vintage Wedding Dresses” with an empty chocolate bar wrapper in your hand on a Sunday night, you realize that this shit has got to stop before you pull a Liz Lemon. With a sugar-induced headache, you lay in bed, brainstorming new ways to embrace and love singledom again. You remind yourself of a few key points, and fall asleep.

  • A relationship (or lack thereof) is not an indicator of your worth. A woman with a partner is not suddenly better than her single self. Her value stays exactly the same, regardless of her relationship status. You know you are beautiful, strong, and brilliant. So why are you looking for a partner to validate this?
  • If your relationship fails, it doesn’t mean that you failed. A relationship is a connection between two people. If the relationship doesn’t work, it’s due to the connection, not some inherent flaw in one of the parties.
  • If a person cannot see your value, that’s on them, not you. Not every person is able to see your radiance, but the partner you choose should be tripping over themselves to be with you. If they’re not, don’t waste another thought on them.

“I feel sorry for the people who take you for granted. For they will never full appreciate or understand the vibrancy of your beautiful stardust soul.” Nikita Gill

  • Having high standards is a testament to your self-love. Don’t ever apologize for your standards. You hold yourself to extremely high standards in every aspect of your life. Your partner should be your equal, so they need to meet you where you are.
  • A relationship should not be the source of your happiness. A good friend once told me: The people in your life should contribute to your happiness, but they should never be the source of it. Be the source of your own happiness, that way, you will always be happy, regardless of who enters or leaves your life.
  • You are lacking nothing. Do not believe the lies that a partner will make you whole or complete you. You are perfect on your own, and if you so choose, you should be looking for a partner who complements you.

“i do not want to have you
to fill the empty parts of me
i want to be full on my own
i want to be so complete
i could light a whole city
and then
i want to have you
cause the two of
us combined
could set
it on fire”
Rupi Kaur

  • Ask yourself what it is that drives you to be in a relationship. If you hope to be validated, rescued, or saved from loneliness by a partner, you’re entering a partnership with unhealthy and unreal expectations. You must remember that you are your own cheerleader, hero, and best company.
  • Marriage is only one of dozens of important milestones in your life. Not being married does not mean that you’re not properly living or that you’re behind schedule. There are so many other milestones to celebrate in your mid-to-late 20s: your first real job with health insurance, getting an advanced degree, or traveling abroad. Kim Quindlen shares a few ideas in her article.
  • These single years mark the most freedom you will ever have. You can throw yourself into your work and advance your career. You can make last-minute plans to spend a long weekend in Philly, or plan a getaway with your best friends to Ecuador. Hell, you can have as many (safe) one-night stands as you’d like! At this point in your life, you can live for yourself, so why are you wishing you had someone else to live your life for? Be selfish. You deserve it.
  • When you will it, the universe will make it happen. Just not on your schedule. I truly believe that if you want a partner, you will find them. It just might not be this fall or next year or even five years from now. Trust that if you keep living your beautiful life, you will find what you’re looking for.

theresaTheresa Pfister wrote this piece for Flux, a forum for those of us encountering adulthood. She is a happily single Brooklynite who works at an education non-profit, essentially paid to be a life-coach/dean/cheerleader/counselor/mom for 116 11th graders in public schools around the city. In her free time, Theresa enters Broadway lotteries and tries to find ways to trick her cat into cuddling with her. All attempts have been unsuccessful so far.

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