The two are not mutually exclusive.
There seem to be two camps of single people — the happily single person and the person actively looking for a relationship.
When you think of a happily single person, you might picture someone who enjoys their freedom and independence. They like getting to call the shots. They focus on themselves, learning about themselves, and their relationship with themselves. They’re happy in their own skin.
Then you have the actively-looking single person. You might think of a person who really wants to be in a relationship and they’re out there at meetups chatting up people, asking their friends to set them up, or perhaps they’re swiping away on an app.
Do either of these sound familiar?
It’s not always one or the other
If they sound familiar, you’re not alone.
Society gives us this notion that we’re either in one camp or the other. That if you’re happily single, it means you’re not looking for a relationship. And if you’re looking for a relationship, it means you’re not happy single.
But what if that’s simply untrue and you can be both?
For a long time, I thought that being “happy single” meant you weren’t supposed to be looking for a relationship.
That being happy single meant focusing on yourself, spending time with yourself, learning about yourself — all that good stuff. And it made sense because people around me would say things like oh, I need a break from dating right now to focus on myself.
So when people asked if I was looking for a partner, I’d just say Nah, I’m happy where I am right now.
When we hear or say phrases like that, we get the preconception that you have to take a break from dating to focus on yourself.
And the flip side is also true where if someone was actively looking to date or to find a relationship, then there was a sense they were looking for more. And if they’re looking for more, then they’re not happy where they are.
This is the stage I’m in and I gotta say, it’s a good place to be. I’m happy where I am and I’m happily looking.
How to be happy with yourself
Growing up as an only child and an introvert, I’ve grown extremely comfortable with my own presence and spending time with myself. I’m not going to regurgitate a list of how to be happy with yourself, since there are tons of those articles out there, but I will say this: you’re the only one who’s going to live with yourself for the rest of your life, so maybe it’s a good idea to learn more about yourself.
I’d encourage you to do anything that teaches you about who you are. The more you know who you are, the more you know what you want. This brings us to —
How to look for a relationship
My form of looking for a relationship is what my therapist calls “noticing potential”. It’s not aggressively pursuing finding a partner, but rather, as the name suggests, it’s more passive.
Noticing potential is when I’m out and about and I just notice the people around me. It’s when I notice potential when I’m chatting to someone new at a coffee shop. It’s when I notice whether or not people are on the same wavelength as me.
No matter what your approach to looking for a relationship is, whether it’s very actively pursuing or taking it very passively, be honest about what you’re looking for and approach everything that comes your way with an open mind.
Society presents lots of norms and commonly accepted understandings when it comes to dating. But you don’t ever have to prescribe to them.
For me, that was learning that I could be both happily single and looking for a relationship at the same time.
So, are there any beliefs that you’re holding onto that you can let go of?