Exploring The Long Term Single Path
I follow a lot of single women online, and I'm in the usual Facebook groups for us singles.
I have to be honest I don't spend as much time as I used to in these groups and I think it's because I've unconsciously rejected the label of 'single' and don't identify with it anymore.
Although of course, I am still single.
Does this resonate with anyone else?
This might sound odd, after all this is blog for single women, and if you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I'm a Life Coach specifically for single women.
So what do I mean by any of this?
I spent my first few years of single life suffering from the weight of the single label, as no doubt you will have. The pressure to be in a relationship, either from ourselves or others and feeling like a failure because we haven't been able to make our relationships work. Sometimes making me feel like a bit of a loser.
Additionally, the impact of previous unhealthy relationships has a significant effect on our self-esteem, especially if we've suffered betrayal or rejection.
And I speak to many women who've had relationships with avoidants, narcissists and sociopaths, and their self-esteem and confidence is on the floor too. It's a double or triple hit of pain around being single.
The Early Years
I dated obsessively online for a few years, never quite meeting 'the one'.
Katy (from The Spinsters) and I had a look at Tinder over the summer.
Because we live in a small rural town, many guys come up who we know from school, work or used to see our friends etc. Every one of them has serious problems which we know about because, well we know them.
On their dating profiles, some of them look rather handsome and dare I say - respectable. But they have problems like:
- Domestic abuse
- Domestic violence
- Drug addiction
- Sex addiction
We concluded that most of the men on Tinder are probably of a similar ilk, it's just we don't know them. It's easy to hide or tell lies online.
So it was no wonder really that I never met any quality men in my online dating years.
Exhausted with trying to look perfect all of the time, spending a fortune on new outfits, makeup, haircuts (it adds up!) and a sizeable fortune in my energy, I got to the place where I'd just had enough.
I stopped dating.
I suspected there must be more to life than this tragic story, but I didn't know what. I wasn't quite ready to reject the fairytale fantasy just yet and was confident that the right man was out there somewhere and would come along at some point.
You've probably already heard me talk about how much time I spent alone and how difficult it was at first, and it was.
But I now had all this energy and resources to spend on something else, and I decided to spend it on myself, getting to know who I was. It had never occurred to me to do such a thing before.
It took time, putting together all the little pieces of me year after year.
Of course, when we start piecing bits together, we eventually make a whole.
And that's what happened.
So I stopped expecting a man to come and make me whole, I didn't need it anymore.
I do date sometimes, not to find a partner, but because I enjoy male company and it can be fun. I have far higher self-esteem nowadays, so I'm naturally drawn to better men and believe it or not, there are some good ones out there.
But I never want to take it any further - to a relationship, a partnership, or a marriage.
Essentially I don't want to share the beautiful life that I've created with a romantic partner. I've worked very hard for it; I revel in the freedom and joy it brings me every single day, and it's all mine - for keeps.
I do share my life - just in other ways. Some of my friendships bring me so much joy, emotional connection and intimacy that they can only be described as deeply loving - with both males and females.
I do still get annoyed at the discriminatory experiences of singles that I read about in the groups. It riles me up no end.
But it's not specifically because I'm single and therefore I understand. It's because, in my heart, I have a passion for social justice, and the discrimination against single people is a social justice issue.
The longer I go on this solo journey, the richer it becomes.
I don't feel like a failure or a loser. I feel like a winner, and I'm very proud of who I've become.
Some of the posts in the groups are from single people who are upset by their treatment from supposed friends. This resonates with me as I've been through the whole thing.
But I've spent the last ten years shedding 'friends' and only creating and accepting new connections that are authentic and worthwhile, and this has had a profound impact on my life and how I feel about myself.
If people can't accept you for who you are, be kind to you, prioritise you and support you - whether you fit in with their expectations of reality or not - then they need to go.
The empath in me always wants to comment:
"Did you try explaining how you feel to your friend?"
Because frequently, it's a lack of communication that causes so many problems - not having the courage to say how we feel.
And because I'm deeply empathetic I feel that if only the other person knew how hurt and left out, you were feeling, they'd be kinder. I understand this is naive, sometimes we do let people know how we feel - and they don't give a shit.
I always stick up for myself, whether it makes other people uncomfortable or not, that's my right to do so, and it's also yours. We don't have to be ashamed of our feelings, they're our feelings, and we're entitled to them.
And so my message to you today is this:
- Keep investing in yourself.
- Keep standing up for yourself.
- Keep speaking your mind
- Continue clearing your life of negative influences and people
If you're single and you don't feel comfortable yet, I promise you can get there if you want to.
Now, I was obsessed with men, relationships and sex, and it controlled my life - continually seeking external validation as I didn't feel good enough inside.
If I can do it, I believe that anyone can.
If you haven't already read it, you can access my Solo Happiness checklist here.
I've now been single so long that the word doesn't mean much to me anymore.
I have built a community of incredible women around me. But it's not as if we sit about talking about how single we are. We talk about life, challenges, pain, and we share laughs and wisdom.
And I don't wake up every day and think about being single.
When I'm coaching clients, the discussion is never about finding a relationship or being single; it's all about taking agency of your own life.
The only time I ever remember that I'm single is when I look in the Facebook groups.
I am 'the one' for me; you are 'the one' for you.
The misconception is that 'the one' is out there somewhere, when in fact he/she isn't, she's inside of you.
So I no longer consider myself single, I don't consider myself anything at all. I'm just me.
Hannah Anstee is a former British Wellness Journalist turned Women’s Coach & Mentor.
You may know her from her work as Beauty Editor at YOGA Magazine or her contributions to The Independent or Psychologies Magazine.
Hannah uses a kind and candid approach to help women rewrite their stories.