Sure, being single can feel hopeless, desperate, and lonely. That’s pretty much acknowledged by everyone. And if you happen to be both single AND Catholic...well, it’s about 1,000x worse. We don’t get our own special sacraments. No one throws us “Congratulations on your twelfth year of not being married!” parties. Instead, we’re constantly bombarded by the well-meaning faithful with, “How are you still single?” Or worse: “What’s wrong with you?” and “You aren’t gay, right?” Singles are considered to be either pre-married or pre-religious, and holding out on either seems to indicate that either we are downright refusing to fulfill our vocational duties, or that we are pathetically unlucky. Or that there is something so wrong with us that we are mutant freaks worthy of a carnival sideshow.
BUT NONE OF THOSE THINGS ARE ACTUALLY TRUE.
So keep this guide handy the next time you are scrolling through the Online Land of Fantasy and Wonder and you feel tempted to cry into ice cream/binge on carbs and alcohol/hide under blankets for a week listening to sad music because that one person you find really, REALLY annoying managed to get engaged to a guy that looks pretty much normal. Or your friend’s children are so insanely cute that it makes your ovaries ache. Or sex is painted as the most awesome thing you could ever possibly do in your life and the entire media as a whole wants to tell you how much you’re missing out. Or you see a status update that someone’s husband is the BEST HUSBAND EVERRRRRRR and she is so #blessed because he is so considerate and handsome and loving and smart and....let’s just cut it off there and move on with our lives, shall we?
1. Remember that you are 100% worthy of love.
Just because someone can’t see it right now doesn’t make it less true. And anyway, what does it matter what other people think? You were created by God and you are a human being, meaning you are just as lovable and in no way lesser-than than any of your non-single friends.
2. Look for your unique purpose and pursue it full-throttle.
You could have been born at another time, to different parents, in a place thousands of miles away. But the exact, specific details of your entry into this world were deliberate and meaningful, and there is something that you can do better in this world than anyone else that has ever lived. It’s infinitely more useful for serving God to find out what that purpose is than to wonder why some dude didn’t text you back. If there is anything holding you back from achieving your non-marriage-related dreams, you have the time now to figure out what it is and overcome it.
3. Be grateful for all that you DO have.
It’s easy to see your life in terms of what you don’t have. But there are SO MANY THINGS you can do as a single person that your married friends can’t. And actually, they probably wish they could join in on the fun. Fill your days with experiences that nourish you and cherish them. Heck, you can even write down a list of all the things you love to do, so you never feel out of options, then sit back and savor the sweet taste of freedom.
4. Seek out opportunities for growth.
When I say opportunities for growth, I don’t just mean taking classes or developing hobbies, although those are definitely good. The reality is that every situation holds dozens of possibilities. Are there things you wish you could do better or you feel you should do more often? Great! Do them! Be mindful and intentional about your life. Do whatever you can to become the most virtuous possible version of you. Which brings me to my next point...
5. Squeeze every last drop out of dating.
I will be the first to admit that dates usually fall somewhere between boring and horrifying. But instead of seeing them as a gigantic waste of time, they can often reflect something about us that we have refused to see. Did you feel insulted or disrespected? He could be just a jerk, but it’s also possible that he picked up on the fact that you aren’t really valuing yourself. That guy that’s into you and nice but boring? At least he doesn’t want to hurt you, and he sees something really awesome in you that you could probably stand to appreciate more. If someone flakes on you, instead of getting upset about it, realize how valuable your time is and use it for something good. And if anything on the date happened that you weren’t really down with but you let it slide, maybe you need to step up your speaking-your-truth game.
And in case you don’t think I practice what I preach, I’m literally getting stood up at the very moment I’m writing this article. And yet, life goes on! And to tell the truth, I’m probably enjoying myself more than I would have otherwise.
6. Be proud and unafraid of being single.
Who’s to say that your married friends are any happier than you are? People get married for lots of reasons, and there is a high chance that some of the married people you know feel like they settled and not everything is as hunky dory as the internet would have you believe. Settling seems like an easy, convenient option if you’re afraid of being single, but what seems easy at the moment can lead to heaps of dissatisfaction down the road and, as these studies show, “greater dependence in unsatisfying relationships, [...] lower likelihood of initiating the dissolution of a less satisfying relationship [and] romantic interest in less responsive and less attractive dating targets.”
If you are unafraid of getting the most out of life as a single person, however, you’ll be much more able to be selective and end up with a better, more satisfying match for yourself. You’ll also know yourself better and be able to have a happier relationship with that better match. Win win.
If God has it in His plans for you to get married, that's wonderful. But what matters is the present moment, and if you aren’t about to get married right now, there is no need to worry about it. I know, I know...it can be hard and frustrating as all get out, and feel really unfair sometimes. But as a friend recently told me when I was trapped in the back and forth maze of “he said this, but then he said that”: you are being robbed of your joy. She was right. We shouldn’t be letting anything get in our way, let alone stupid, petty human situations that we’ll have forgotten about in a few months, and ESPECIALLY not a feeling of loneliness and despair. It's letting the darkness win.
So let’s get out there and live our lives to the absolute fullest. Anything less means that we are denying God and the world all of the awesomeness that He gave us. If we can give ourselves over to Him, and not only tolerate our singlehood, but embrace it as a gift that He is giving us, there is no end to what He'll be able to work in us.