“Hope for love, pray for love, wish for love, dream for love…but don’t put your life on hold waiting for love.” ~Mandy Hale
Going to weddings alone, with no plus-one to take along with you. Watching the couples dance, thinking, “Will there ever come a time when that is me on the dance floor?” Going on holidays alone, with no partner to share memories with. Listening to stories of friends’ weekends away, as a reminder of just how solitary your own weekends are. If you are anything like me, you might recognize these signs of single life.
“Will my situation and circumstances ever change?” I’d think as I struggled to fall asleep at night. I’d hold a pillow as a source of comfort, yet this too disappeared in the morning, when I woke up alone to face the day.
Many single people think like this, yet rarely voice these thoughts. But sometimes we hit a turning point when we start to see everything differently—and then start to act differently.
The turning point for me came one Saturday morning. After I had gotten dressed and ready, I sat down on a chair next to my bed. A photo of a couple friends was in front of me. They were on holiday, with smiles on their faces, standing under a bright blue sky with a clear blue sea behind them.
As I looked at this picture of serenity and happiness, I had a sinking, empty feeling in my stomach. I thought, “God, will that ever be me?” I looked down in front of me and felt a sense of despair, worried about what my future held but paralyzed as to what I could do about it.
At that moment I thought, “Enough.” I walked to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I was tired of feeling sorry for myself. I was tired of watching the world go by. I was tired of the sad thoughts going around in my head like goldfish in a fishbowl.
I asked myself then, “What do I have to be upset about?” I had a roof over my head, clothes on my body, and food in my mouth. That’s not to say it’s not normal to long for companionship when you’re single; it’s just that I had focused so much on what was wrong with my life that I hadn’t focused on what was right about my life. And I’d also focused on what was wrong with myself—as if there must have been something wrong for me to be single for so long.
Until I became my own cheerleader, how could I expect others to start cheering for me? I decided then and there to take action. If I wasn’t happy with myself, I had to go out and change, and do things to change. Not just daydream and hope life would turn around by itself.
So, what did I do?
I’ve worked on enjoying my single life more and joined some dating apps to “get in the ring.” The results have proven mixed. Like with all things in life, there are good days and bad days. But on the whole, it’s been a positive experience because I’ve met some great people in my search for the person who ‘gets me.’
I’ve realized we can only experience true happiness in life if we focus on ourselves instead of waiting for others to focus on us. People can join us for our stories, but we cannot expect them to complete our stories for us. We make our own paths in life. Walking on paths well-trodden will never be as satisfying as carving paths of our own, however rocky or imperfect they may be.
So, what helped me move ahead? Here are four things that may help you:
1. Work on loving yourself and your life.
Work on yourself before trying to attract somebody else. As a natural result of working on yourself you will exude a glow of confidence. Your zest for life will radiate from your face, and you will naturally look and feel better to others.
Work on developing positivity in your life. Embrace what you have, not what you wish you had or what your neighbor has. Read more, study more, travel more. Exercise for twenty minutes a day, try cooking one new dish a week, read or watch something every day that inspires you.
Why should people get to know you? Evaluate the qualities you like about yourself and sing your own praises in your head each time you doubt how worthy you are.
2. Be proactive.
Join a few dating apps, take a few chances, take the time to connect with people. Bumble and Hinge are easy to use. You’ll meet new people and engage a new mindset.
Get active and make the effort to swipe for a few minutes each day. What’s more, enjoy the process. Look beyond the photos. Recognize that there is a whole person behind the photo if you are willing to give that person a chance. Look for the gold in the profiles.
3. Pay more compliments.
If you see something you like on a profile, don’t be afraid to say it. You could make somebody’s day with your words. It costs nothing and it could provide just the lift they need. And the beauty of giving compliments is that you’ll likely get some in return—things people may have thought but otherwise not shared if you hadn’t gone first—which can help radically build your self-confidence.
4. Focus on achieving one big goal a month.
Write down twelve goals for each of the twelve months in the year. Buy a paper diary and write down how you are going to fill your time for the next week. Do something you wouldn’t ordinarily do. The person you seek should not compensate for all the things you are not; they should be an extension of all the things that you are. The more you live life, the more life you will have to share with a significant other.
Review your progress once a week. Ask yourself, are you making too much time for people that do not have the time for you? Ruthlessly discard the things that don’t make you happy (people, pursuits, things) and selfishly embrace the things that do. Be generous with others and selfish with yourself.
So, in summary, what can you do to improve your dating life?
Treat yourself with the care you would treat a friend, broaden your mind and your approach when using dating apps, compliment freely, and give yourself one big thing to look forward to each month.
True happiness in life can only be experienced when we focus on inside joy, not when we look for external fixes. Invite people into your life to join your life story, not to build your life story. Be your own cheerleader first to allow others to cheer for you.