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Happy Monday! How to have hope and how to be confident when you’re single were two questions that came up QUITE A BIT on my Reader Survey – so today we’re tackling both together. Now, I don’t necessarily feel the most “qualified” to write this from a personal standpoint, seeing as I met J when I was 18. Since I missed all of my 20’s being single, I’m sure some of you will probably think who the HECK are you to speak to having hope or being confident when single?! And, I mean, you’re not wrong.
Even though my “singleness” in any period of significance was pretty shortlived, I like to think that I least learned a few things over the years from my mama, from the internet, and from girlfriends who had #BeenThereDoneThat. Especially since with anyone that I did “date” before J, it was always very intentional.
Before meeting J, I was always someone who would not date unless I saw longterm potential. I mean, ain’t nobody got time! When I was in high school, I had my sights so set on getting into my dream school that I just did not – I could not! – prioritize anything above that that wouldn’t potentially be coming with me TO it. Funnily enough, on the drive up to UPenn to move in the summer before my freshman year began, I *distinctly* remember telling my mom that I was OK being single for the next four years, to focus on myself and on school. Penn has a pretty intense party/hookup culture that I knew about going into it, and that wasn’t me. The next day – I met J. But it was ironic to me since I knew in my heart of hearts that I was so totally OK being single – and of course, I had no clue I would meet him when I did!
For all my single ladies, hopefully these 14 tips on having hope + confidence help keep things in check this Valentine’s week.
P.S. These pictures were from before I got my hair done for winter, hence the blonde balayage. 😉
- Write down a list of 10 amazing things about yourself. SERIOUSLY. I had one of my best friends do this after a breakup; she had just broken up with a guy that she was expecting a ring from, so she was understandably crushed and feeling totally shaken and NOT confident or hopeful. She hadn’t even realized how much clout she had put on who she was as a person as “his girlfriend.” Her identity had been rooted in their relationship for years, instead of in herself. So take the relationship out of the picture and she had trouble figuring out who she even was anymore, or what made her special apart from being with him. My #1 advice for being truly A-OK being single, is having the best possible relationship with YOURSELF before expecting or wanting the best possible relationship with someone else. That, and your relationship with God. You have to know and love yourself before you can expect anyone else to know or love you. Confidence does not (nor cannot) come from someone else’s validation of you – that’s not true confidence. At the end of the day, you have to be absolutely alright with who you are at this very moment in time, without looking for someone else to serve as a distraction or excuse from tackling any tough truths and becoming your best self. That means you acknowledge + internalize two very important truths that so many of us grapple with: You are WORTHY, and you are ENOUGH.
- Figure out what feels missing in your life that a partner would supposedly fulfill. Do you find yourself feeling lonely on a Thursday night? OK…you don’t need a man to fill that void. You can grab drinks with girlfriends and no longer feel lonely on a Thursday night! If you go into a relationship with holes in your life, you’ll quickly realize that a healthy relationship won’t fill those holes – they’ll just manifest later on and potentially cause trouble (ie facing any insecurities, past pain, etc). You shouldn’t need a man to validate you, girlfriend! If you can identify pain points in your life that could/should probably be worked on a bit personally before you bring them into a relationship, focus on becoming your best self without feeling the need for someone else to make that happen.
- Ask yourself if you’d want to date any of your friend’s partners. Chances are, the answer will be no! Remember that just because someone is “taken” doesn’t mean that they or their partner are any good – or that they’d be good for and with you. We’ve all had that girlfriend who ALWAYS had a boyfriend – even if he was absolutely positively no good. In those situations, is it better to be dating or single? I’d say single every time.
- Develop standards. If I had a dime for every girl who was willing to let go of ANY + ALL standard just for the sake of having “someone”…it’s so sad! Girlfriend, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is figure out what is versus is NOT OK by you. Setting standards is oh so important for not only fostering healthy relationships in life (romantic or not), but for developing your own best life by setting a reachable bar that makes you feel good and fulfilled and happy. (REACHABLE is a key here!). What are some things that MUST be present for you to be fulfilled at your core? Versus what are something things that would be nice to have, of course, but aren’t make or break? And then, what are actual deal breakers for you? And, is anything on any of the three columns moveable in time? For me personally, my faith is HUGELY important in my life. When I first met J, we shared the same faith, but he didn’t consider himself a very spiritual person at all – he had fallen to the wayside. I knew that I needed the man that I’d marry to be on the same page as me there, since it’s a huge part of my life. But I didn’t force or pressure J – I prayed a lot, and I knew that if he was the right one for me, God would work in him in His time. And sure enough – He did. It took about a year, but He did. And after four years of dating, we got married. If I had expected that from Day 1, I would’ve been disappointed. And if I had tried to force something onto him before he was ready…I also would’ve been disappointed. It takes a lot of patience + prayer to get there, I think! Other things in terms of standards might be how you two communicate – or more significantly, how you argue. If being screamed at isn’t your cup of tea, then that needs to be an inforced standard from the get go as a sign of mutual AND self respect.
- Reframe how you think of dating in your mind. If your goal is to get married down the road, then every single person you “date,” whether it’s for two months or two years, is a potential life partner. If you just know in your gut + heart that there’s not lifetime potential there, let it go! Don’t waste time trying to force square pegs in round holes if you know that in the end, there IS an end in sight.
- If/when that happens, recognize that it’s not a reflection of you. It doesn’t speak to your worth, your abilities, your looks or your capabilities. The other person was as much not for you as you weren’t for them. It’s not a personal attack or rejection, even though it 100% feels like that in the moment.
- Don’t internalize rejections. SO MUCH EASIER SAID THAN DONE, I know. But if someone does break it off with you or reject your interest, don’t think of it as being dumped, or like you weren’t “worthy” of this person. It could just as easily be the universe’s way of making a disconnection of something that wasn’t meant to be, if you weren’t going to figure it out until it was too late. In the moment, we don’t always have the chutzpah to call something out as not right if it feels right in the moment. But we forget, too, that feelings aren’t facts. We feel in love – but we might not actually be in love. And we won’t know that until we are disconnected from the feeling and able to step back and see what true love is.
- Similarly, just focus on facts! We have this tendency to let our brains spiral into unintended meaning or consequence (guilty!). So if someone asks, “So, are you seeing anyone yet?” at the Thanksgiving dinner table, we internalize that to mean, “So, have you figured out your life yet? Are you emotionally stable yet? Have you entered adulthood yet?” Or any other multitude of crazy assumptive pressures that we put on ourselves that simply are not factual. If anything, these questions might be indicators of your own insecurities coming out – things that YOU have thought about yourself, or have internalized instead of the simple fact of having not yet met one person that you can envision waking up to every single day of your life for forever.
- Stop looking at every guy you see on the street as your potential soulmate. I mean, talk about pressure! Instead, just see them as the people they are. And if you meet and click, you can think of them as a date if they become that, and as a boyfriend if they become that, etc. But putting that pressure on yourself AND on them just isn’t fair. (Also could very well scare them away if they pick up on it. Ha!) Note: This is different than point numero cinco, since this refers to people you are not yet dating. Point numero cinco is analyzing folks more intensely once you’re in more of a relationship with them!
- Stop thinking of singleness as a life sentence. If you’re single and unhappy about it, guess what. IT CAN CHANGE. Sure, it might not change on your timeline, but that’s life. Getting a raise or switching jobs or having a baby or buying a house or finding shoes on sale all might not happen on your timeline, either. So embrace your relationship status’ uncertainty with the same sortof prayerful hope that you approach any other big decision in life, without taking it personally or becoming a victim to it.
- Trust that people are placed on our path for a purpose. If we clutter our paths along the way, it can make it only harder for the right folks to fit on it. People will come and go in your life – that’s normal. Don’t hold people captive to the path that are meant to separate at the fork in the road.
- Don’t force yourself to celebrate “independence”. I think oftentimes in society, any magazine article on being single goes straight to screaming your singleness from the rooftops and adopting a “don’t need no man” mentality. Which can feel really inauthentic to many of us, if we’re being honest with ourselves. We were made as humans to crave community! It’s TOTALLY NORMAL to feel like you want to be surrounded with other people (it’s also normal to feel like you want to be alone with your cats and a glass of wine). If you’re single, exercise your independence however feels right to YOU, which might be something like crossing off bucket list items that become so much harder (if not impossible) with added people. Learn a language or an instrument or take up a workout class – things that might not necessarily be the activity of choice if/when you have a partner down the road with you. Live your life with the sole intention of becoming your best self, which likely involves being comfortable doing various things solo. Shutting yourself in your room and refusing to meet folks as a “proud independent woman” does lessen the likelihood of actually meeting someone. So be honest with yourself if you WOULD like to meet someone, and work on that marriage between being contentedly single, yet open to more.
- Don’t force IT, either. Instead of feeling forced to download Tinder or go on that blind date with Steve, focus on the former point. Put yourself in situations where you COULD bump into fate. Or, if not fate, a dang good shot at it. Will you meet your soulmate if you hang out at home all the time? I mean, it’s possible the pizza delivery guy is single and ready to mingle, but it’s definitely not your best bet at l-o-v-e. Keep focusing on living your own best life, and trust that the right person will fit into that (and ENCOURAGE it).
- Know that confidence doesn’t come because of the person you’re with. That’s not confidence at all, girlfriend! If you’re confident because you’re dating Tony, that doesn’t make you confident. That’s rooted in something outside yourself, which is the most dangerous thing of all. For me personally, my strength comes from Christ. And my confidence comes from knowing that He made me as He did for a reason, and I’m doing everything I can every day, consciously + decidedly, to step further and further into His divine plan for me. That’s it. My confidence has NOTHING to do with the fact that I’m Jamie’s wife. I loelovelove being Jamie’s wife. But that’s only a piece of who I am as a person – it’s not ALL of me. And it’ll be the same for you with your right person – they become a piece of you, but they’re not ALL of you. I’ve always hated the phrase that someone is “your other half.” You’re not looking for your other half. You ARE both halves. You should be looking for a whole, to complement your whole. Two halves become a whole when they’re identical to one another. You + your partner are not two halves – and if you are, there’s a risk you won’t actually fit together at all down the line. Become whole yourself. A whole, happy, hopeful, confident being. It’ll attract another whole, and together, you’ll be one helluvah duo.
It’s easier to trust God when things make sense to us. But the whole point of faith or trust is embracing that total unknowing, and still believing in things unseen or unfelt. If we knew how the ending turned out, it wouldn’t be a matter of faith – it would be just be our own knowledge. Like reading Harry Potter, knowing that (spoiler alert) Snape dies, and then re-reading expecting it to go differently – there’s no need for faith, because you already have the intel.
Trust God with your story. He made you fearfully + wonderfully, and He’s writing it beautifully.
For my single ladies, do these 14 tips help in knowing how to have more hope and confidence when you’re single?
What’s the biggest thing for you in finding a partner?