Argh. ARGH, I say!
I feel like I want to blow up through this bullsh!t.
Let’s get a few things straight.
This whole “you have to be OK on your own first” is part of what we shall call… “The Single Story” that the world of woo seems particularly keen on.
The Single Story goes like this.
“First you are single. Then you acquire the magical superpower of self-love and you learn to feel happy being on your own. You learn to love your single life. And then poof! You find someone. Like magic.”
The world of woo… Bless it. It’s made up of humans, and humans always find a way to turn a spiritual truth into something that makes them come on top.
And since there’s more “coupled people” than “single people” on this world… You get the point. This story serves coupled people, and puts “down” single people.
Because the underlying assumption in this story is “I learned how to be OK on my own and that’s how I met Jim. And now we are so happy”.
Who are these people who have presumably “learned to be OK on their own”? Who claim to have mastered this lesson so well that they have been rewarded with a relationship and don’t, apparently, need to re-learn it ever again?
Have they reached enlightenment? Are they the Buddha?
Enough with the bullshit.
We all need to learn how to be OK on our own.
We all need to learn how to be OK on our own.
ALL OF US. Every single person in the whole world.
It’s one of those things that pertain the human condition: you keep working on it until you die.
And one of the greatest mistakes coupled people make is thinking they have learned the lesson and don’t need to revisit it. Or assuming that they don’t need to bother learning it because now they are “with someone”.
We all need to work with the whole “being OK being on our own”. Both single and coupled people.
It will show up when you are single, sure. But when you are single you have SPACE to work with this.
When you are coupled, you don’t have space. Because there seems to be such an easy “fix” to the “problem”.
Most “problems” in a relationship happen when we want the partner to give us something “they aren’t giving us”.
And the ultimate spiritual truth is: nobody can give us what we need.
Only we can give ourselves what we need.
Things we need: understanding, love, connection, meaning, adventure, tranquility, space.
When you’re single, you have nowhere to go: it’s you and your needs, you and your stuff. Either you sink or you swim. You learn to give these things to yourself, or you go without. End of.
When you’re in a relationship… You ask. Or plead. Or argue. Or whine. You get into arguments or fights. You try silent treatment. You try making out. Or making up.
You want adventure but the partner wants to stay in, so you don’t give yourself “adventure”. Instead, you default into “what an asshole”.
You want space and tranquility, but the partner wants to go out to a party. They default into “you are selfish” and you default into “inconsiderate bastard”.
And it never occurs to us to just… give ourselves what we need without expecting the other person to fill that need.
Coupled people have about as much chance of learning how to fill their own needs as a snowball’s chance of survival in Hell.
I’ll say it once again: we all need to learn how to be OK being on our own. Not so we can find a partner, but so we can be happy. Or at the very least, less neurotic.
How does this whole “being OK on your own” thing look like now?
Less like “single people are doing it wrong and coupled people are doing it right”.
(Which was always the point, because if there’s something I hate more than bullshit is hubris.)
Let’s get another thing straight: a relationship is not some kind of “special prize” awarded to people who “learn how to be OK being on their own”.
If that were the case, then everyone in a relationship would be enlightened, and the rate of divorce would be much lower.
It might be that a happy and healthy relationship is a special prize awarded to people who learn “how to be OK being on their own”.
But so what? A happy and healthy life in general is a special prize awarded to people who learn “how to be OK being on their own”.
I am the first to recognise the importance of learning how to be OK on your own.
And I am the first to acknowledge the (f*cking) dangers of getting into a relationship when you haven’t the foggiest how to be OK on your own.
I have been in 3 abusive relationships. Trust me: I get this. More than most.
So yes. For the love of all things holy, do learn how to be OK on your own before you get into a relationship.
But don’t do for the sake of finding someone. Do it because it’s your responsibility to yourself.
We all need to learn how to be OK on our own, because we are, in a way, always on our own.
Our stuff is between us and us. Our needs are between us and us. We are responsible for our selves. Always have, always will be.
People will come and go, but “we” stay with ourselves. So we need to learn to be happy by ourselves, whether we are single or coupled.
Here’s an alternative way of working with this “being OK on your own” thing
Forget about “learning to be OK on your own in order to find someone”.
Instead, focus on “learning how to be OK on your own in order to be healthier and happier”.
Because when you are healthier and happier, you have healthier and happier relationships.
And the way you do that is not by “getting there” and magically waking up one morning to find yourself “being OK on your own”.
You do it by acknowledging where you are, at every single step of the way.
Acknowledging your anger, your frustration, your sadness, your pain, your disappointment.
Your feeling of “I can’t stand it another minute, somebody get me out of Single-ville right this second or I will blow!”.
Acknowledge it all without guilt, or shame.
And if guilt or shame do show up, acknowledge that.
This is how we learn to meet our own needs.
And nobody gets to bypass this lesson.