How to make the most of the single life & prepare yourself for the relationship you want.
I can attest that as I've become more intentional with how I spend my time as a single gal, I've become more understanding and aware of why this time exists. To say I'm grateful would be an understatement. My singleness has provided me with tremendous opportunities for personal growth; I've accepted them all as graciously as possible. I know, with certainty that this time has made me a stronger individual and prepared me to be more present in all areas of life; especially to be a better partner. As a result, I know I have a lot to give and will add value to all relationships - romantic or not - and I seek for the same in others.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what I want and expect out of a romantic relationship. Honestly, I’m not unhappy being single (you might have also read my recent post about taking a break from dating apps). There are a lot of completely wonderful things about it; despite how horrid some might have you believe it is. To me, being single (even in my 30s) is not a death sentence, a marker of brokenness, or a curse to live a life of solitude. No, being single is a time to become grounded in who you really are as a person. It’s a wonderful time of finding yourself; should you choose to look at it as such.
While I have great appreciation for my singleness, I also believe we’re hardwired for connection and companionship. Yes, we can find great expressions of both in our friendships and non-romantic relationships. However, I also know that there is a deep, special kind of growth that can be achieved through a romantic partnership. This energy is unmatched and tremendously powerful. I consider a relationship a vehicle for not only romantic love and connection, but also healing and transformation. Why wouldn’t I be excited to call in the person who compliments, stimulates, and challenges me on all levels? I absolutely am.
However, I’ll be honest, dating after 30 is a little different. You don’t have the same level of naivety and courage you had in earlier years. You’ve probably had your heart broken and are coming to the table with wounds that cause you to have judgments and fears. You’ve developed habits and expectations that often feel more important than they really are. You’ve often invested your time and energy into places that actually promote your singleness, even though you truly want a partner. All things considered, we’re often doing more to block love than to call it in.
So, what can we do to better prepare ourselves for the relationship we want? Here are a few simple steps to consider:
Get truly grounded in who you are. One of the most frequent pieces of advice I hear when it comes to dating is to be yourself. In my humble opinion, this requires you to actually know who that is. Why not spend some of your time as a single uncovering the self you may have hidden away as a way to cope with old wounds or conform to what you thought was expected of you? We’ve all done it to some extent and reconnecting to who you are is one of the most powerful ways to ensure you are able to show up fully when a new romantic partner comes into the picture.
Don’t get lost in your own story. You’ve no doubt developed an internal narrative when, where, and how our relationships are supposed to look. Because we’ve spent so much time developing this story, we understandably get really attached to it. Why wouldn’t we? Often, we’ve built quite an elaborate story of what our romantic partner will look like and how things have to play out. Be patient as things are finding their form. The Universe has a plan for you that cannot be restricted to your when, where, and how. Avoid getting attached to your own story; each time I’ve found myself wrapped up in a story line of my own creation, I’ve found it comes with struggle, anxiety, and disappointment. Relax and trust that the Universe will support you and guide you to the right place and person at precisely the right time.
Don’t let those around you narrate your story. If you’re like me, you probably have at least a couple of friends who are more than happy to share their opinion on what you should do when it comes to your love life and romantic partners (if you’re also like me, you probably even invite in these opinions from time-to-time). Here’s the thing, no two stories are alike and there are far fewer people qualified to offer advice than there are willing advice-givers. There is only one judge who can decide how the story should play out, and that judge is already residing deep within. With that in mind, think twice if you’ve found your story being narrated a little too loudly by the opinions and advice of friends. Show gratitude for their care, concern, and interest, but remember that this is your story; not theirs. No matter how well they know you, the only one who knows what is truly right for you is you.
Avoid being a box checker. Admit it, you have a checklist: A laundry list of what the perfect mate looks like. It might include physical or intellectual qualities, personality traits, age, religion, education. It might be broad or very specific. Regardless of what you have on your list, acknowledge those qualities, but don’t box yourself in so much that you’re not open to what the Universe is bringing you.
Relationships are Universal assignments. While you can choose to grow individually with each relationship in life, the purpose of a romantic partnership is deep, personal growth. They are intended to make each partner stronger as an individual. A strong couple is strong because each partner brings strengths and weaknesses to the table that compliment and accelerate the growth of the other. Because we tend to inadvertently hide from our own weaknesses, we might not always recognize this opportunity when it is presented to us by the Universe. Keep your eyes open.
If you've found yourself falling into hardcore box-checking mode, I find it helpful to journal, writing a story that describes how your ideal partner makes you feel, rather that listing out specific characteristics. Focus on values versus how you think those values might manifest in a potential partner.
Find joy in your singleness. If you can’t find happiness where you are, there is nothing and no one who can bring that to you. Yes, the perfect romantic partner can amplify your happiness, but they should not be held responsible to create it, you must do this on your own. As I mentioned earlier, singleness is also a very important opportunity to grow and get grounded in who you are, what you believe, and what you want out of life. It is a time to heal and to learn; all of which prepare you to be a better partner when the time comes.
Look for romance in the everyday. Often, we think that romance can be found only in a romantic partnership. This is not true. Romance can be found in relationships of all kind and in little moments throughout your day. Romance is defined as a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life. Often, we get so caught up in our day-to-day that we fail to see the small romances all around us. It might be an exchange with a friend or a feeling you get when you’re in a certain place. It could be a simple gesture of self care like a long bath or buying yourself flowers. There is no limit to where you might find it once you’re actually looking. In my experience, being in the flow and in appreciation of specific energies often welcomes more of that specific energy into your life.
Singleness in your 30s (or at any age really) is a very important time. While it might be tempting to throw ourselves into our career or social life; consider also that a time of singleness is a time to come into our own, to learn and grow with the intention of preparing yourself to be more vulnerable, present and grounded in a partnership when it arrives. Be patient, grateful, and open to what the Universe is preparing you for and bringing your way.