Everyone knows that single person that’s just kind of unicorny. They seem to be oozing confidence, they’ve got an amazing social life, shiny hair, and they don’t get what you’re talking about when you causally mention your Netflix cave. It’s almost as if a crippling need for love and attention doesn’t dictate their self worth. Huh. Weird.
On the flip side, we all probably know the perpetually attached serial dater who tends to focus on quantity over quality. As long as they’re with someone, it beats being alone, and the most “single” they’ve ever been is juggling a handful of mediocre Tinder dates. Some people are fine with that, but more often than not these people don’t feel all that fulfilled, and aren’t having all that much fun.
So how do you become a Unicorn Single and not a Tinderella?
It’s not always easy. Everyone wants to find love, and it doesn’t happen easily or quickly for everyone. But enjoying being single makes the journey all the more tolerable. Fun, even. It’s just a matter of getting good at it.
If you’re not a natural Unicorn Single, it basically boils down to faking it till you make it. Here are five habits you can practice that will make you feel like you’re killing it at Singledom.
1. They Date Themselves
Imagine being newly enamored with yourself the way you are when you meet someone new. What kinds of things would you do to show you you care? Cook yourself an incredible dinner? Get yourself a pedicure so you look nice? Buy yourself a little gift to show yourself that you’re thinking of you?
Can you imagine the quality of life people would have if they dated themselves just a little? Realizing you’re special and worth some extended effort is a revelation, and the fact that you can dote upon yourself and feel amazing without waiting for someone to do it for you is a game changer. It increases your confidence, independence, and boosts your mood. And once you realize that you’re worth that kind of effort all the time and not just when you’re trying to lure someone into liking you, you’ll start to learn that you don’t have to rely on someone else to tell you you’re special.
2. They Trust the Process
Que será, será. C’est la vie. Easy come, easy go. Hakuna Matata. Did I miss anything?
How many stories have you heard about a friend who agonized over a potential partner that just wasn’t working out, and as soon and they stopped fretting, the love of their life fell into their lap?
It’s easier said than done, but believing that things will happen when they’re meant to, how they’re meant to, and with whom they’re meant to alleviates the need to overanalyze every text, count the minutes between when someone will open your snap and respond, and daydream about the person you’re crushing on being happy with someone else.
If you think about it, you want someone to fall for the actual you, not the version you’re presenting just so they’ll pay a little more attention to you. Be yourself. Enjoy yourself. And repeat the mantra, “I can only be me, and they’ll take it or leave it.” Worrying only solves problems that haven’t happened yet, so there’s really no point! Letting go of what you can’t control (someone else’s feelings for you) is liberating once you get used to it. Plus it’s better for your skin.
3. They Have a Dog
Or a cat, or a fish, or a succulent garden, or sea monkeys…
Dedicating some of your energy to taking care of someone or something shifts the focus off of what you’re missing and onto what you have to give. Not to mention, it gives you a sense of companionship. Being relied on makes you feel needed, valued, and important, and that can go a long way when you’re single.
Everyone is aware of that romantic comedy trope where post-heartbreak, the girl redecorates her apartment, plants tomatoes, starts a jewelry line, and begins bringing dinner to her elderly neighbor. And yes, while we can’t shake the nagging feeling that she couldn’t do all that on the budget of a budding young journalist, there’s a nugget of truth there. And that truth is that finding purpose in your life doesn’t always have to be tethered to being in love.
4. They Establish a Social Routine That Doesn’t Just Consist of Couples
Surrounding yourself with coupled bliss all the time is bound to weigh on you, making you feel the pressure of finding someone for yourself. And while you shouldn’t abandon your coupled friends altogether, setting aside time that doesn’t cater to double dates and dancing partners can be very healthy.
Establish a boys’ night out, or think of activities you can do with your girlfriends that won’t allow for the conversation to disintegrate into wedding plans. Volunteer projects or classes that will introduce you to new social circles can keep you out of the couples rut too. Even regular solo dates, like standing yoga classes or personal goals like training for a 10K can help keep third-wheel hangs to a minimum.
5. They Make a List of What They Want
Maybe not a physical list that hangs on the fridge, but successfully single people define the aspects of a relationship that are important to them, and they don’t compromise on it. This practice is important because it keeps you from trusting too much in the rose-colored glasses that come with meeting someone new. So often people are so excited by the prospect of finding someone, they’re willing to ignore traits or behaviors that would otherwise be deal-breakers. The trouble is, these issues always surface later on.
Some of the best advice I have ever been given came shortly after a break up. A friend told me to think seriously about the relationship I had just exited, and after considering everything I had learned, make a list of everything I find essential in a partner. Not just an “it would be great if…” list, but absolute essentials. It shifted my focus from, “I’m lonely and I want someone,” to “I will not settle for anything less than…” Dating became something that went from “How can I make myself more likeable?” to “What will this person do for my quality of life?” and shifting from the interviewee to the interviewer was so empowering, I felt like a whole new person.
Habits like this come naturally to some people. Maybe they’re naturally independent. Maybe they’re very extroverted, and it’s less important to them what kind of company they’re keeping. No matter what the reason, remember: everyone, even the most unicorny of single people, get lonely, needy, and sad sometimes. All the practice in the world won’t make you immune to that, and you should never feel ashamed if you need a day or two to retreat back to the Netflix cave. As long as you always remember that you are the true value you bring to any relationship, you’ll start to learn that self-love is the best love of all.