In a world that constantly sells the concept of coupledom and parenthood, it’s sometimes hard to remember that you are valuable, just for you – even if you don’t have a mate, 2.5 kids and a white picket fence.
‘I don’t believe a married life is necessarily any happier than a life lived alone,’ says physician and author Alex Lickerman. ‘We may be driven to couple ourselves, but we all struggle to do it well (living with someone else is simply hard for reasons that are anything but simple). Single people may envy their coupled friends, but depending on how skilled you are at conducting a relationship, it may easily cause you more misery than being single and wanting to be coupled ever did.’ Given the high number of divorce rates, both locally and globally, Lickerman has a point – while singledom may get lonely from time to time, it’s less of an emotional rollercoaster than a nasty divorce.
Research by Ed Diener, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois, produced compelling evidence that people react to marriage and other major life events with emotional fluctuations, but return to their usual ‘set point of happiness‘ as time passes. ‘Some people are happier than others, that’s clear. And there are things you can do to make yourself happier, but something external like getting married isn’t a royal road to changing your set point,’ says Diener.
A solid relationship with your single self is a key ingredient to happiness – with or without a partner, says couple’s expert Shelley Lewin. ‘When you have a strong sense of self worth, enjoy your own company, like and respect the person you have become and know you have value – you naturally have a strong foundation on which to build a positive partner relationship,’ she explains. But the irony is that this kind of person doesn’t need a relationship to be happy – they could be equally fulfilled without one.
Make the most of not being restrained by a significant other and invest in what makes you feel good. ‘Sometimes the kindest and most loving thing we can do for ourselves is to say ‘No’ to others, says Shelley. ‘Say “No” to things that take our time, our energy, our resources, our money. And “Yes” to the things that provide a sense of fulfilment. “Yes” to people, places, experiences and moments that leave us feeling full with joy and overflowing with inspiration.’
Who says you need a partner to experience pleasure? Indulging in yourself can be just as rewarding – pamper yourself with candelit baths or facials (at home or in the salon). For some sublime pampering products, try Superfoods Cacao Body Butter – it smells good enough to eat (unsurprisingly, since it is in fact totally edible) and can be used as a sexy self-lubricant or a nourishing skin moisturiser.
And why not make yourself a delicious meal and set the table? And then read while you eat! Pure indulgence!
As Bob Marley once put it, ‘one good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain’. Sort through your old LPs, reorganise the music on your hard drive, and put together a collection of the best/funniest/most nostalgic tunes from the last few decades* – then play them back and, if the mood takes you, dance – there’s no better antidote to the blues. And nobody to critique your moves. Or hit on you when you’re not in the mood.
(*We advise against too many overly sentimental songs that may tempt one to wallow in self-pity rather than having the desired effect.)