We’re undeniably a society built around coupledom, and if you don’t believe that, you must be under the age of 25. No, it isn’t easy to be a single woman in 2017, despite the ever-increasing amount of unmarried people in this country—the number of singles in America rose from 38 million in 1970 to 107 million in 2014—and research suggesting that singles are actually happier than their married counterparts. What do you do when you live in a world that (somehow inexplicably) doesn’t see you as whole person without a plus one? Here, six suggestions.
We recently overheard a girl exiting airport customs exclaim to her friend, "He thought I was traveling alone, like a loser!" We'd like to encourage you to take the opposite perspective on doing things by yourself—there is nothing more badass. As editors, we often attend events solo and can tell you that doing so is tough at times but also requires you to step outside your comfort zone. Doing so results in experiences you wouldn't otherwise have: meeting new people, learning the (very French) art of not giving a flip about what people think about you, making irreplaceable memories (the singles table at weddings comes to mind) and creating a strong sense of independence that will serve you well in life. Seriously—it's so baller to show up alone, and what most people are thinking (if they're thinking about you at all) is, "Wow, I could never do that." But their safety nets might not always deploy, and someday they may have to do that. You're one step (or, more accurately, a million steps) ahead.
A weird thing happens when your friends start to couple off—suddenly, you aren't invited to all the dinners and events. They aren't trying to be mean by not including you—in fact, they're trying to be kind. Their reasoning is that you wouldn't want to be the only (presumably sad) single girl at a table with a bunch of couples. Make sure early on that they know this isn't the case—that you're perfectly comfortable hanging with them and their significant others. While sometimes these dinners can enter Bridget Jones territory, more often they're actually fun. Don't lose your besties just because you don't have a partner.
Flying solo seems abnormal in our society—we're raised to believe that single people are all dying to be coupled. This isn't so in every culture, however, and it can be helpful to recognize that the "couple as king" ideal is just a social construct. Read up on this perspective, the stats on being single and more via these five books.
We spend a lot of time down on ourselves for what we think we don't have instead of actually asking ourselves what we truly want. Before you let someone else make you feel bad about being single, think about whether you actually want a relationship right now. Perhaps you're hyper-focused on your career, going through some personal changes, dealing with a family crisis, trying to get your finances in order or maybe you just love being alone.
If you're single and do want a relationship, ask yourself what you're looking for in a partner and then go after it. Dating is fun, even if it doesn't always seem like it, and one day, when you're a 93-year-old widow hooking up at the old folks' home, you'll wish you'd practiced more when you were young and fearless. The key to happily dating instead of miserably dating, however, is to trust in the timing of your life. Chances are good that if you want to be married, you eventually will be. Now might be the time for you to be alone, now might be the time for you to learn a bunch of lessons or now might be the time to fall madly in love and leave single life behind. Whatever it is, don't miss out on the journey by focusing on the destination.