Successfully Single Part 1

In this series of three posts, we will examine what it means to be successfully single, how to tell if you are, and what to do about it if you are not.

Anita, who is now my wife, and I spent most of our forties single. As those years seemed to drag on, we each individually, unbeknownst to each other, determined that we would not waste that time, but instead, would learn to make the most of it. With the help of good books, good teaching, and good counsel, we began to grow and eventually began to thrive. Later on, that led to us start leading a singles group for our church.

If you spent any time in that group, or if you spend some time hanging around this site, you have heard us use or will see us use the term “Successfully Single” from time to time. Before we get into exactly what that means, let’s take a look at how way too many people view singleness.

How Many People View Singleness

Unfortunately, many people spend their single years hating their singleness (especially if it was thrust on them by someone else’s decision), living in their past, and dreading their (probably lonely, joyless) future. They view singleness as a punishment, or as a trial to be endured until mercifully granted a reprieve. That is exactly how not to be successful at being single.

Hating Singleness

Hating your singleness sucks all the joy out of the present.

Because most people have a bad attitude about their singleness, they never open themselves up to all that being single has to offer. The tendency is to put life on hold until that magical time when they get married. Their premise is: married = happy / not married = not happy. We say: that premise = disaster. It leads to, at best, unhappy singleness and, at worst, unhappy marriage. As in all situations, your attitude makes all the difference. As Charles Swindoll rightly stated, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” The lens through which you view your singleness will determine your level of success in it.

The lens through which you view your singleness will determine your level of success in it.

Living in the Past

Living in the past sucks the life out of the present.

We suffer from selective memory and tend to either color the past all good or all bad. If we remember it as all good, we romanticize it and fear we will never have a life that good again. If we remember it as all bad, we spend too much time reliving each painful event and dreading a future that will probably be just as bad — or worse. Either way, our past intrudes on and sucks the life out of here and now.

Always remember the past. It’s how you got to where you are. Learn lessons from it. Your past may or may not be a nice place to visit, but it is definitely a terrible place to live. It is okay to revisit it occasionally, but do not dwell there. Never assume that the future will be as the past was. The future is yours to shape. What do you want your future to look like? Envision your future. Draw from your past. Create your present.

Envision your future. Draw from your past. Create your present.

Dreading the Future

Dreading the future sucks all the hope out of the present.

Nothing is made better by worry or dread. In fact, most of the time the dread of the thing is worse than the thing itself. Such was the case with my singleness. I dreaded facing life as a single person. For a while, I let that dread crush me, then, thankfully, I realized that my life would be whatever I made of it.

The future is not to be dreaded. Turns out we shape the future by every small decision we make along the way. That means there is reason to hope that tomorrow will be better. Challenge dread, and bring hope back to life.

Challenge dread, and bring hope back to life.

What Being Single Can Be

Being successfully single means realizing that life as a single adult can be good — really good. It means moving beyond mere survival and learning to thrive. It means not despising your singleness, but embracing it, acknowledging the advantages of it, and getting the most out of it. Most importantly, it means growing — emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

If you are as happy as most married people, living life well, and growing as a person, I would say that you are successfully single. If you are not stuck in a holding pattern waiting for someone to someday come and rescue you from your loneliness and make life worthwhile, you are on the road to success.

The thing is, no matter how improbable it seems now, statistics tell us that most singles who desire to marry will eventually marry (or re-marry), or at least attempt another long-term relationship at some point. So more than likely, your singleness is a finite season of yet-to-be-determined length. When you look back at your season of singleness, will you regret not making the most of the opportunity you were given? Or, will you look back at the growth, the adventures, and the things you learned in that season as the very things that made you who you are and made a successful marriage possible?

Finally, being successfully single means being who you are. But, beyond that, it means becoming the very best version of who you are. You are free to become the person God created you to be. You are unencumbered and accountable to only yourself and your God. Go where you want to go. Be who you want to be. Do what you want to do. Imagine the possibilities!

Becoming Successfully Single

So you’re thinking, “Sounds good, but how do I get there?” In “Successfully Single Part 2” we will begin discussing how to become the thriving, successful single you want to be.

What does being successfully single mean to you?
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Originally published at thrivesingles.com on October 15, 2016.