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Life has multiple facets and a relationship forms just one part of it. While being single among friends who have dates or are married can be upsetting, according to experts, one’s happiness should not depend on their relationship status. Dr Prachi Shah, founder and consulting psychiatrist at Meraki Mind Care, states that depression as a result of being single stems from a very romanticised notion of relationships. She says the first step to getting better would be to stop seeing being single as a problem and something that one needs to ‘cope’ with.
Shah says, “Being single does not mean being lonely. It would help to change our perception on being single. We live with the notion that being in love will lead to happiness and fulfilment. You don’t have to cope with being single, because, first and foremost, being single is not a problem.”
Look beyond love
Psychologists and therapists say it’s important not to seek relationships out of peer pressure. Tanvi Sardesai, a counselling psychologist, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences at SL Raheja Hospital, says, “Sometimes, if you are sad, upset or lonely, it may not be because you are single, but because of other insecurities that you may have. It is often the societal pressure to be with someone that makes us believe that something is wrong with us if we’re alone. It is important to identify this and stop internalising external pressures.”
Valuing other relationships with friends and family, identifying your underlying beliefs, and focusing on and prioritising personal growth are some ways that can be helpful. Sardesai says, “Realise that being single gives you the autonomy to make a lot of decisions: you can choose where to live, pursue career goals that may have some risks, or decide what to do with your time. Being single also means you have fewer social obligations and can pursue whichever hobbies and adventures you like.”
Being single is not a problem
Sardesai adds that the fear of being single often stems from the anxiety that one will never find a partner. However, she says being single can lead one to having a good degree of independence and help one build stronger and more intimate friendships. She adds, “It is often found that what brought people joy and fulfilment was relationships, but not necessarily their romantic ones. Happiness comes from connection and we often undervalue our many loving, platonic relationships, because we are fixated with the idea that our happiness will only come from a romantic partner.”
Shah adds that one should not pin down all hopes of happiness on a relationship. Instead, she suggests building and improving in all areas of life. She says, “Develop meaningful connections with your family and friends. Focus and achieve your goals at work. Cultivate different interests. Explore all areas of life and live it to the fullest.”