Thriving as a single woman

It’s not a disease! The benefits of being single

May 30, 2018
Posted by Karen Strang Allen

If you’ve ever been single, you’ve no doubt felt pressure from others around you to “find someone.” You probably dread the question, “Why are you still single?”

It’s as if people think being in a relationship is the miracle cure for solving all your problems. Or that being single is like having leprosy – some horrible disease that proves you’re undesirable (if you weren’t, wouldn’t you have someone by now?).

And yet, the latest research is showing that being single has some important benefits.

So why is it assumed that being in a relationship is better than being single? And is this assumption actually true?

The over-idealization of marriage

We live in a culture that reveres romantic relationships and marriage. There are many reasons for this:

  • We are social creatures who generally prefer togetherness over isolation.
  • We want to procreate (which ensures the continuance of our species).
  • We want security (someone to care/provide for us when we’re ill).
  • We want financial stability (two incomes, sharing expenses and lodging).
  • We want a family (the nuclear family is still assumed to be the best model for this).

While there are certainly benefits to being in a romantic relationship, our over-idealization of this one type of relationship often comes at the expense of other types…including our relationship with ourselves.

By putting so much focus and energy into our partner, we often neglect other people in our lives. I’ve seen it time and time again with clients and friends (and yes, I’ve done it too) that as soon as we’re in a relationship, we drop our friends and family like hot rocks, focusing all our attention on our partner to the exclusion of others. I don’t believe this is a good thing, as it is very unbalanced and suggests that the only relationship really worth having is a romantic one.

It also puts far too much pressure on our romantic relationship to fulfill all our needs – which is unrealistic at best. And what happens if that romantic relationship doesn’t work out? Because you’ve put all your eggs in one basket, if that basket is suddenly withdrawn, guess what…you have no eggs left.

Also, many people hyperfocus on their romantic relationship to the detriment of themselves. They put aside their own interests, passions, dreams to please the other, gradually sacrificing too much and losing themselves in the process.

And, let’s not forget that our romantic relationships don’t always result in happiness. Sometimes they are riddled with conflict, disappointment, and pain. Indeed, as many of us have come to discover, being miserable in the wrong relationship is far worse than being alone.

So while, yes, there are benefits to romantic relationships, there are also drawbacks, and it’s important to see both in balance to make an educated choice about what is best for you.

What I mean by this isn’t that everyone should break up and become single…it’s that we need a greater appreciation of the benefits of being single, so that as a culture we stop rushing people who are single into relationships, as if there is something fundamentally wrong with being alone.

The value of being single

I’ve spent more years living alone than I ever intended (over 10 years at this point). I always imagined I would get married straight out of university, buy a home together, create a family, and live happily ever after. I didn’t anticipate becoming widowed at 22, or divorced at 35.

After my first husband died from liver cancer, I resisted being single. I was urged by my parents and friends to find someone to fill the gap, and rushed into a relationship too quickly. It did not end well, because filling the empty hole in your heart with another person’s love is not the real answer to loneliness.

Then I remarried, and while I married a good man, it was not the kind of partner/relationship I needed. So after 10 years of trying to make two mismatched puzzle pieces fit, my marriage ended. And this time, I decided to take some time to be single, and re-discover who I was again.

My single years weren’t always easy, but they have been a true blessing. I’ve learned more about myself and my preferences than I ever would have being in a relationship (because I used to be one of those gals who sacrificed who she was to be with someone).

I learned to be ok with being alone – and not only ok, to actually look forward to my alone time (when my two kids are with my ex). I learned to meet my own needs, so that I’m not so “needy” in my relationships. I re-invested in other important relationships…with friends, colleagues, family. I re-discovered my passions, and spent more time doing things I loved to do that made me feel alive and truly happy. I changed careers and created a business where I’m helping people change their lives. And I fell in love with myself, truly enjoying my own company and coming to appreciate the many gifts I have to offer others, finally trusting in my own value.

I am now with a terrific guy, but I can honestly say I’m glad I didn’t meet him sooner – because my life is so much better balanced now, and the gift of loving myself is far greater than any external love could ever be.

For those who think being single is a curse, here are some benefits of being single you may have overlooked:

  • Doing what you want, when you want.
  • Decorating your home the way you like, without having to compromise.
  • Organizing your space the way you like (and having stuff stay put!).
  • Getting a better sleep (no more snoring!).
  • Having more time for
    • other important relationships
    • your own interests and passions
    • exercise and eating healthy
    • personal development
    • going within and hearing your own thoughts

More and more people are choosing to be single

I am certainly not alone in seeing the benefits of being single. There are more and more people who are living alone these days…and even consciously choosing to be single. There is a ton of emerging research that shows that marriage isn’t the be-all and end-all…and that many people are happier alone. I follow a lot of Bella DePaulo’s research, check out this article for a new perspective on the reality of single vs. married life.

To summarize a few interesting statistics from her article:

  • 45% of the adult population in the US over 18 is single (i.e. not married).
  • For the first time ever, more Canadians are living in one-person households than any other living arrangement.
  • Over the last 50 years, individualistic beliefs (like valuing friends more than family) have increased significantly for 79 percent of the world’s nations.
  • Recent studies show that marriage does not improve self-esteem or health, as previously thought. In fact, single people were reported to have better health than married people.

Living alone is not only more common these days, it’s often even a preference. More and more people (women especially) are choosing to have relationships, but live apart. Gone are the days when a woman wants to be a maid to her partner, and many women are financially independent, so they can choose to keep their own home instead of moving in together.

I personally know quite a few single people who are HAPPY being single. It’s a choice, not a requirement to be in a relationship, and it has nothing to do with how “desirable” you are. In fact, some of the highest calibre women and men are single the longest, because (rightly so) they have higher standards and are not willing to lower them just to be with someone.

It’s really about choosing what’s right for you

All this to say, it’s YOUR CHOICE whether you want to be single or be with someone, living together or living apart.

So, when someone suggests you SHOULD be with someone, trust that they likely mean well (being in a relationship is their view of what would make you happy, probably because they are in one). But understand that their view is a little one-sided. Ultimately it’s for YOU to decide how to live your life. Living your life based on someone else’s values and not your own will never result in happiness.

If you do want to find someone and get married, that’s great…but there is no rush and no ticking clock. In fact, being in a rush will result in one of two things:

  1. Choosing poorly (settling for “someone,” instead of choosing the right person).
  2. Pushing away good people because they feel your urgency/anxiety.

So, take your time and enjoy this period of being single…it’s not a disease or a curse! It’s actually a tremendous opportunity to discover who you are, create a life you love, and become truly happy.

Then, if you do decide to enter into a relationship, you’ll be doing it as a whole, healthy person and set your relationship up for success from the start. And if you don’t, you’ll have a well-rounded life that fulfills you, so you win either way!

Share your thoughts!

Please share your ideas and comments about being single below!


  1. shewrite63

    From personal experience, I think that once you have been married or have escaped an unpleasant, unhealthy relationship you become wary of putting yourself in that situation again. If it is affordable, one can really embrace living alone and rediscovering yourself plus making time for personal development and supportive friendships. One big factor is sticking with a relationship to raise and support children – until things get unhealthy for them and you have to get them out of there. Once you get past a certain age, the choices for a romantic relationship are slim due to a potential partner’s declining health and mobility (or your own at that). I wouldn’t want to sacrifice my independence to become somebody’s nurse.

    • silverliningsblog

      Hello! Yes, agreed…many people choose to remain single out of fear of repeating past mistakes. But once you understand your pattern, you can also change it, and start attracting a different kind of person. I encourage women to spend some time on their own really getting to know who they are and creating a life they love first. And then from a place of empowered strength, make the choice to either remain single or look for a partner who is able to match them on all levels. (Yes, they do exist. 🙂



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About the author

Karen Strang Allen

Karen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner. 

Learn More about Karen