Don’t Wait to Be in a Relationship to Do These 7 Things

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It’s been a little over ten years now since I was in a serious relationship. Though I’ve managed to have a few adventures with a lover here and there, much of what I do is done alone. That’s a state with a very bad reputation. Being in a romantic relationship is treated as a signpost that life has finally begun because there’s someone else there to witness it. Until then, you’re just kinda waiting, hoping you’ll get to do all that stuff someday.

And that’s a terrible way to spend your days. Couplehood is not guaranteed. Even if you find a relationship, it might end before you get to your bucket list. You might even discover that there were some things you missed out on doing while you were single because you were so busy looking for that relationship. Life is meant to be lived, not waited on. If you’re single right now, here’s some stuff you shouldn’t put on the back burner.

1. Get Romantic

“Romance” is a word mostly associated with couples and sexual relationships, but life can be romantic on its own. Take yourself out, buy yourself flowers, light a candle on your desk and write a poem. Swoon and dream and let yourself get swept up in all the drama and fun of life that isn’t about another person texting you back.

2. Travel 

There are some practical benefits to splitting a hotel and having someone around to watch your stuff while you go to the restroom. Traveling on your own is a very different experience than traveling with a partner, but that can be a good thing. No one else is determining your schedule, your itinerary, when you stop for food or where. There are a lot of travelers on their own out there as well and meeting new friends on a trip can be one of the most fun parts of the journey. If you’re very brave, look for a hostel with a shared room. Maybe even bunk beds.

3. Living without roommates

There have been times when I simply couldn’t afford to live without roommates and times when I took on the financial strain of paying for my own space. You know what? It was totally worth it for the experience. Living alone feels like a step into adulthood that a lot of uncoupled people are nervous about taking on, partly for money reasons and partly because it seems like something they’re supposed to do with a partner…but cohabitating couples don’t actually have their own private space when you really think about it. If you can, take a chance on yourself. You might be surprised what you can manage to do after discovering the pleasures of no one else ever leaving dirty dishes in the sink. They’re all yours!

4. Going to cultural events 

You don’t need a date to go to the opera, attend a lecture, go to an outdoor concert, or basically any of the exciting, enriching events that might be available to you. It’s fun to share experiences, of course, but being able to focus on what you’re watching and learning about can feed the soul in unexpected ways.

5. Learning a new skill

There are a lot of things I assumed I’d eventually con another person into doing for me, but it turns out being single means learning to do things on your own. Some of my most satisfying hobbies are useful skills I waited on learning until I realized I had to. Take a class, watch a series of YouTube videos, read a book and become a slightly more competent person.

6. Investing in your community

A lot of people wait to “settle down” before picking a place to settle down in. It can be harder when you’re young (and figuring out where you want to be) to stick to one place. But you don’t have to wait for a relationship or to be sure about the place you’re in to start caring about it. Invest in your community, however long or short your stay, by volunteering, shopping locally, getting to know nearby bars and restaurants and talking to your neighbors. 

7. Receiving validation 

It’s very hard in this world to divorce a sense of self-worth from whether or not you’re in a relationship. We receive so many messages about how important it is to be loved by one special someone that it relegates loving yourself to a lesser status. Seeking validation in a romantic relationship might work out, but it’s not sustainable. Learn to give yourself the acceptance, care, and esteem you deserve. Then, whenever you get those things from someone else, it’s just icing on the cake.

Aimée Lutkin is a writer and performer from New York City, where she was born and raised. Her writing has been featured on Jezebel, Marie Claire, ELLE, and Glamour online, among other places. The Lonely Hunter: How Our Search For Love Is Broken is her first book and she really hopes you read it.