A Letter to My Single Self

I know there’s a lot of pressure surrounding Valentine’s Day, complicated by societal and self-imposed expectations and your envy of other friends whose love lives seem to have aligned. I know you’ve gone to bed crying, questioning why relationships always fall apart—or just won’t even get off the ground. I have felt your pain. I know the confusion and the shame. I have asked all those questions. It takes resilience and perspective to see your way through any relationship, gathered together by the passing of time and accumulation of life experience. I won’t tell you singleness is a gift, but I’ll remind you that your presence and friendship is a rare and valuable gift.

There is nothing wrong with you

Your relationship status has no reflection on your worth. I know you’re rolling your eyes at your future self right now, but take these words to heart. From my vantage point I can see that you have always been worthy of being loved—and have always been loved. How you carry yourself, stand up for what you believe in, work hard, and treat others is what matters. And if you still don’t believe me, take your closest friends’ esteem into consideration: you are loved and wanted by those who have chosen you as their friend, flaws, insecurities, and all. Trust me, they wouldn’t be by your side if they thought any differently. Cherish these friendships, because they surpass time and space and relationship status. (Hell, you get to spend so much more time with them being single than if you had a boyfriend/fiancé/husband.)

Look at your closest friends

They encourage you, stand by you in trying times, listen to what you have to say, accept you and all your weirdness, grow alongside you, and have committed to being present till the very end. Choosing your life partner is really no different than adding another best friend to your crew. You’ve already created that relationship with a handful of incredible women. It won’t be hard to discover a best guy friend to spend your life with, even though the search is trying at times. After all, you have great taste in friends, and you’ll have great taste in your lifetime best friend. I would know.

Don’t get caught up in playing games

Should I text him first? How long should I wait between texts? Should I tell him how I feel? Girlfriend. You and I both know these games are exhausting. I don’t care if Aziz Ansari said playing these games was a part of modern dating culture in his book, Modern Romance. If neither of you are willing to be straightforward or vulnerable enough to express interest in getting to know each other over coffee (how many girlfriends have you done this with, by the way? You’re a natural!), save yourself the time and move along. Or just fess up and see what happens. If he’s not on board, at least you know upfront and can free up emotional energy and time for more exciting things.

Same goes for that on-again-off-again relationship. Decide how you want to proceed once and for all, and stick with it. I know from where I stand today that everything ended up working out and you learned some valuable lessons. But save yourself the heartache and your future self the time, regret, and annoyance with yourself.

Marriage is not the end-all-be-all

Yes, it’s fun. Yes, it’s gratifying to do life with your best friend. Yes, you should still invest in your friendships, career, personal development, and individuality. Your husband isn’t responsible for your emotional wellbeing, success, or happiness. He should support you in all of those areas of life, but that’s not his job. His job as your husband is to do life with you, not for you.

That’s also why it’s so important to always invest in your friends. They provide you with support and understanding that no spouse could ever achieve.

Even married people feel lonely

Marriage isn’t a magic pill for loneliness. If you get married, don’t expect to never feel lonely again. That’ll just set you up for heartache. We are human beings and we let each other down on a daily basis. Your husband will let you down, and you’ll let him down. There will be times when you feel emotionally distant from him. At other times, you will be geographically distant. And boy, does that feel lonely. Like with any other relationship, it takes open communication and vulnerability. And intentionally looking for those points of connection. Especially when you don’t want to. Like the Gottmans say, relational satisfaction isn’t defined by grand, sweeping actions. It’s built in the consistent, small actions of turning toward your partner to understand what’s going on in their world.

So, dear younger me, don’t despair on this Valentine’s Day. You have yet to even spend it with your husband! And if you do find yourself down, you can lean on the support of your loving friends and family. And on my word that you will be more than okay with all the passion and love inside of you.