I remember my first summer in New York City, when I was getting over a relationship that ended after five years. My sister took me aside and gave me the best piece of dating advice I’ve heard to this day: “Be selfish.” Not rude and mean selfish, but you-do-you selfish. Hang out with who you want to hang out with, do what you want to do, and don’t feel obligated to do anything or see anyone you’re just not that into.
So I did. And rather than mope about the ending of one chapter of my life or try to squeeze in as many dates as possible, I reveled in the new life I was creating for myself. I just needed a little encouragement to get started.
Since that advice was so helpful to me, I decided to poll different women to find out the best advice they’ve ever received when they were single. No, “You’ll meet someone eventually,” or, “Try OKCupid instead of Tinder.” And certainly no, “Just stop trying so hard,” or, “Try not to come off as desperate.” Instead, we asked women what judgment-free advice was actually helpful to them.
We found out that being single is a time to celebrate and relish — not avoid. Ahead, 10 of the best ways to celebrate single-hood.
“The best thing you can do is be honest about what you want. It’s a lesson I’ve learned through having way too many dates where I tried to make myself into what someone else wanted. Doing that never leads to a satisfying relationship. So stop trying to not be single and start trying to find someone who you actually want to spend time with.” — Helen, 28
“The best sex I’ve ever had is with a vibrator, so don’t worry too much about being single. All you need are batteries and you’re good to go. Plus, no emotional labor is required.” — Katie, 25
“Live your life for you. I learned this on my own through a major failed long-term relationship that grew out of my ‘need’ for a boyfriend to make my life fulfilled and happy. No one can make you happy but you. Being single, being on your own, is the perfect opportunity for you to live your life for you. Own it and stop worrying so much about finding your other half.” — Elizabeth, 25
“I’m STILL single (like, chronically), but my mom told me once that whoever is a match for me is probably out doing the same thing, too — enjoying his 20s and friends, and not needing to settle down yet. So it’s fine to enjoy being single and enjoy your 20s, knowing that the right person for you is out there doing it as well.” — Marshall, 26
“Find a hobby you love. Whether it’s knitting, a book club, cycling, or rock climbing, finding a niche outside work is a great way to stay happy and healthy. For once in your life, you aren’t tied down to anyone else’s schedule or expectations. And, who knows, you could eventually meet someone else who’s equally passionate about your hobby — and then you’ve got a way cuter ‘how we met’ story than just ‘we met on Tinder’ (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).” — Christina, 29
“I learned this from personal experience: Don’t get into a relationship for the sake of being in one. Take your time with everyone you date, and make sure you are both on the same page with your values and with what you want. Also, don’t ignore the red flags. They are usually there for a reason.” — Pam, 24
“Keep your heart and mind open to the world and its ample possibilities. My last failed relationship left me so heartbroken; I felt jaded, discouraged, and unhappy. Those emotions trickled to the other facets of my life, and I felt virtually incapable of feeling any sort of passion, happiness, or fulfillment. Then it hit me: Some of my greatest and most memorable life experiences have happened as a single woman. When a person is single, they are free to direct all their energy and attention on new possibilities that don’t necessarily have to associate with finding Ms./Mr. Right, but instead on the care, well-being, and fulfillment of oneself. These might include taking on a new hobby or activity, working towards getting a promotion at work, or spending more time with friends and family.” — Tania, 25
“Being 100% single is the most freeing feeling ever. I mean, 100% — that means no casual dating, no text-buddies, nada! Once you’re over the feeling of initial loneliness, there’s something really empowering that comes with being solo.” — Lauren, 28
“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. The worst that could happen is that the other person is not interested, but if you don’t ask you will never know. My current relationship is a testament to putting yourself out there and being willing to be vulnerable. I used to wonder about the what-ifs, until I forced myself to ask those scary questions and fight for what I want and love.” — Diandra, 25
“I’ve been single so long, no one tries to give me advice anymore. I say, enjoy it while it lasts! Do whatever you want, whenever you want. Spend time with your friends. When you’re in a relationship, it takes up a lot of your time — time that used to be spent with friends. And never get discouraged, because there are literally millions of people out there.” — Jane, 28
“Be honest about your expectations and don’t compromise them. The reason breakups happen is because that person has not met your expectations, and eventually, it leads to unhappiness.” — Jamie, 39
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