We live in a society that places high value and expectation on being in a coupled relationship and singles are often stigmatized for their single-status. Gay men, in particular, are often labeled as being unable to develop and maintain long-lasting intimate relationships, adding yet another layer to this stigma. This can lead to feelings of low self-worth and inferiority, a sense that there's something wrong with you if you don't have a boyfriend, an excessive focus and preoccupation with your discontent with being single, and sometimes a compulsive drive to find a relationship just to satisfy that nagging need (which can be a dangerous and sabotaging maneuver if one's dating practices are conducted out of desperation rather than conscious intention).
For those who have not chosen singlehood as a lifestyle and do long to be in a relationship, this can be a painfully difficult experience. Special occasions, holidays, weddings, times of loneliness, and just witnessing other couples can be very triggering events for singles that serve to magnify their restlessness and unfulfillment with being solo. What these types of single gay men need most is a reassurance and recognition that this phase of life can be one of the most enjoyable and transformational times of their lives if they choose it to be. This article will validate the positive values of being single and will offer some suggestions for making the most of your single life.
Singlehood is the time in your life where you have the greatest degree of flexibility and freedom to do whatever you want. You can be more spontaneous, independent, selfish, and adventurous because there can be less commitments and more time to pursue the things you want to do; you can make your life into anything that you want it to be as you're completely in "the driver's seat." You have the ability to enter in and out of situations with relative ease and to meet a variety of new people. You are responsible only for yourself and can make choices and major decisions without having to take another into account or to have to answer to anyone. You don't have to deal with another's annoying habits or nuances and don't have to compromise. Other aspects of your identity (career, family, friends, etc.) can have more emphasis as there's less competition for your focus and attentions.
More importantly, though, being single puts you in the ideal position for cultivating yourself to reach your fullest potential as an individual. It's an opportunity for self-exploration and investing in your own personal growth and development. It's also an ideal time to learn what's needed to be fully prepared for love when you find it, to experiment safely with your sexuality, and to explore different types of relationships. It's fertile ground for learning about who you are and what your needs are. Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. says it best in his book "Keeping the Love You Find":"Singleness would be recognized as a vital stage of the journey to maturation, a time to learn about who we are, to learn responsibility and self-sufficiency, to identify our true desires, and to confront our inner strengths and demons, a time to make changes in the things that stymie our pleasure and progress in life, to learn how to connect and communicate on alllevels. It would be sorely needed relationship training." (1)
The following are some practical tips and suggestions for managing your singlehood to promote a positive acceptance and enjoyment of this special time in your life.
1. Create a checklist of the opportunities that being single affords you and start living them!
2. Start a journal about your single-status and what it means to you. Answer the following questions:
o Why am I single? How do I feel about that?
o What do I want from being single?
o What thoughts, feelings, and behaviors hold me back from being able to embrace this time of my life?
o How do I contribute to my own unfulfillment with being single? How do I sabotage myself?
Don't deny your feelings or ignore your desire for a relationship. Process these feelings in your journal and write about ways you can create more meaning and purpose in your life.
3. Identify the biggest challenges you face with being single and develop goals to defeat them.
4. Develop affirmation cards. Grab some index cards and write positive thoughts, motivational statements, advantages and opportunities of being single, and self-improvement goals onto the cards. Read them to yourself daily to begin internalizing the messages. Alternatively, stick the cards in a jar and during times of loneliness or depressive funks, refer to the cards for a quick pick-me-up.
5. Identify things you've always been meaning to do or try but never made the time to pursue or learn. Take action.
6. Build your support system, join a class, volunteer for a cause that's meaningful to you, commit yourself to health and wellness.Be active. Live your life to the max! Make it count!
As you can see, being single provides you with many opportunities for self-growth, fun, and preparing yourself for your life partner when you eventually meet him. Take advantage of this crucial time in your life to accomplish your life goals, improve your self-esteem, work through any internalized homophobia you may be struggling with, and build your interpersonal skills. It's important to avoid glamorizing relationships because "the grass is not always greener on the other side" and to realize that having a boyfriend does not take away problems that you may already have in your life. Appreciate this time of your life and don't measure your happiness or worth as a person on your relationship status.
The Law of Attraction states that we attract situations, people, and experiences in our lives that reflect who we are and what we focus on. Negativity about being single will only mirror, magnify, and attract more negativity. Counter this by taking charge of your single life and crafting it into being the most meaningful and fulfilling time of your life with its alignment to your life vision and purpose. Cheers to your becoming a successful single!
(1) Hendrix, H. (1992). Keeping the Love You Find. New York: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, Inc.
© 2004 Brian L. Rzepczynski
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Choosing a life partner requires that you be a good detective. Although chemistry and attraction contribute to a relationship’s foundation, singles should be sure to investigate mutual interests, values, experience, habits, priorities and life goals. Here are ten questions designed to help you gather important information to identify a potential life partner:
Knowing what your dating partner’s goals are in life helps you to determine if they are ones that you can share. More important, asking this question helps to open up communication about what really matters to each of you, and what you ultimately want to accomplish in your lives.
Since levels of ambition vary among people, be sure that you are compatible enough in this area to support your partner’s energy and drive to attain his/her financial goals.
People can vary a great deal in their desire to be involved with their families. Welcoming children in one’s life also lets you know, regardless of age, the desire to create and nurture one’s own family environment.
Belief in a higher power, and one’s devotion to it, can be a central focus in the lives of many people. Be sure that you and your dating partner share enough of an interest and investment in religious practices, so that this major area becomes a source of joy and pleasure in your relationship, not one of burden and resentment.
Learning how your dating partner has dealt with challenges or hardships tells you about his/her ability to adapt and change. Knowing what your dating partner has learned as a result of overcoming challenges lets you know how s/he may handle them in the future, especially within a relationship with you.
This question is included as an example of how some personal habits around cleanliness, punctuality, and even table manners can undermine the good feelings that two people would otherwise have toward one another. Be sure to observe if your dating partner engages in behaviors that really annoy or irritate you.
Relationship behavior is modeled by the people we are closest to, such as our parents. Knowing what your dating partner has witnessed lets you know his/her image of marriage and relationships. Find out about the quality of your dating partner’s parents’ marriage, especially whether they enjoy, or merely tolerate, each other.
Our relationships with our parents teach us, on very deep levels, about love, giving and trust. How we experience parental love, for example, whether it is conditional or not, provides us with the foundation for loving others throughout life. Investigating the quality of your dating partner’s relationship with each parent helps you to determine whether or not s/he is emotionally mature. This information also tells you about your dating partner’s gender and sex role expectations.
You’ll want to know whether your dating partner is happy, and why. Find out what gives his/her life meaning.
The world is filled with awe-inspiring events that can easily be taken for granted. Asking this question helps you to discover just how aware and alive your dating partner is. Sharing your observations with each other helps to increase closeness and intimacy, as well as your mutual appreciation for all that contributes to finding and creating a life partner relationship.