A woman with sunglasses and a top bun

I grew up watching and rewatching Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, enamored by the idea of a charming prince, a happily ever after and a bit of magic. As an adult, I gravitate toward the same repetitive habits with romantic comedies like How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Pretty Woman or The Holiday

These narratives resonate with me as I’m sure they do many women. We can be drawn to the surprise and sparkle of an unlikely romance, the seemingly perfect guy swooping in, both parties admitting their selfish faults or overcoming insecurities and a picture-perfect ending only Hollywood could write. Yet, if our repertoire of Disney princesses and rom-coms teaches us anything, it’s a theme that single women are evidently waiting for something better to come along. 

[There’s a theme] that single women are evidently waiting for something better to come along. 

Admittedly, I’ve felt it. I’m not here to dismantle a classic trope or wave a “You don’t need a man!” flag, because, true as it may be, it doesn’t change what we may innately feel. Our problem is not our desire for relationship. Our problem is an inability to value ourselves and our stories across any season. Namely, a season we tend to treat as a disease—singleness.

As a topic that has become a bit cliched by society, it’s important to evaluate what we are believing and communicating about our worth (and the worth of our single friends) in the way we discuss singleness.

Singleness isn’t waiting.

Naturally, there are some aspects of life that may be on hold if you are single, like having a family. However, even if it isn’t expressed in that specific capacity, your ability to love or nurture or make a home is not limited to the confines of your ideal life. Care for your friends, show up and cultivate your heart for hospitality. It’s all a gift, and it need not go to waste until an opportune moment.

More importantly, allow me to give you this permission if no one else has: Your life is not on hold just because you don’t have a relationship. In fact, singleness grants you an unmatched time and freedom that is uniquely opportune. You have skills, a voice and a beautiful heart to offer the world, and you currently have a wide-open space to run with it, and I hope you will.

Your life is not on hold just because you don’t have a relationship.

Relationships aren’t a maturity marker.

To be certain, there is a kind of wisdom and experience that is only achieved through the experiences of marriage and parenting. Yet, there is an additional kind of wisdom that comes in seasons of independence, in taking the time to settle deeply into friendships and in solo decision-making. We should never cheapen the depth of wisdom someone has to offer because of their relationship status or lack thereof.

Any set of experiences can cultivate maturity if we lean into the growth offered in our given circumstances. Whatever season you find yourself in, even if it isn’t your ideal one, leverage all the character development it has to offer. It doesn’t mean you will arrive at marriage or your next step having it all figured out, but it will make the most of your time and enrich the seasons to come.

There isn’t one story.

Perhaps it’s because of our own discomfort, but people (single or not) have a tendency to respond to the unique pain of loneliness with a series of cliches that prescribe a false hope or solution. You’ll meet the right guy when you least expect it. You’ll find him when you’re ready. You just need to put yourself out there. Yet, as far as I know, there’s no magic spell or specific formula for finding a relationship.

There’s no magic spell or specific formula for finding a relationship.

Ask any couple you know, and their story will look different. You could meet someone when you least or most expect it. You could be full ready or not ready at all. You might already be putting yourself out there or he might show up at your doorstep.

Whatever your story ends up looking like, I promise you can’t predict it or map it out, and framing your hopes around a formula will likely leave you disillusioned. More importantly, your journey has more beauty and meaning to offer than whatever brings you to a significant other.

Your worth is not influenced by your relationship status. You have so much to offer and that is neither helped nor hindered by who you are attached to. Give yourself permission to dream and hope boldly, but detach yourself from the lie that your value hinges on your relationship status.

What stereotypes about singleness have you encountered? How do you respond?

Image via Frank Terry, Darling Issue No. 11

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2 comments

  1. Yes! Thank you for this. It means a lot that a magazine like Darling writes about singleness in such an empowering, and dignifying way. I’m definitely sharing this with all of the singles in my organization, as I am working to help them embrace the season for all that it is worth, and it is worth so much. I’ve led a seminar for our singles and am trying to develop more ways to support, empower, and dignify them within our work culture as well. There aren’t a lot of resources out there, but the ones that are out there are pretty amazing.

    1. Allison did such a beautiful job covering this, and like you said, in a dignifying way. Thank you for reading and sharing it Sharon!

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