Valentine’s Day… eugh! There is no escaping it. The red hearts and cupids are out at every supermarket before you even have a chance to get over Christmas.
If you are still getting over your divorce, it can feel like the whole world has a perfect love match and will be living a Hollywood romance on February 14th. The whole world except you. But don’t despair, there are plenty of good reasons to take heart in your single status…
1. You are happier than many in a couple
We have all heard that approximately 1 in 2 marriages fail so clearly a lot more people are unhappy than are letting on. Research has shown that 60% of men and 45% of women will have an affair. Or to put it differently, affairs will affect nearly a third of couples! Many of the most unhappy people in society are NOT single people but are those in unhappy relationships. So this Valentine’s Day, we can feel pleased we are out of an unhappy relationship and compassion for those who will have to go through a lot more difficulty to reach the stage you are at now.
2. Single people are more connected with family and friends
At the American Psychological Association 124th annual conference Bella DePaulo reported that single people may have more fulfilling social lives and experience greater psychological growth than some married people. She examined 814 studies and found that the body of evidence showed that single people are more connected with family and friends, whereas marriage tends to make two people insular.
If you are going through a divorce, you will appreciate how wonderful your friends are, or have to make a load of new ones – either way you friends are a great source of happiness and now you have the time to spend with them.
3. You become self sufficient
The same study found that the more self-sufficient single people were, the less likely they were to experience negative emotions. This is because they learn how to spend time enjoyably alone and become confident that they can do a range of tasks from paying bills to DIY.
Over time one of the benefits to being single is learning how to be alone. Knowing that you can go to the cinema or on holiday without needing anyone else. This is extremely powerful as you finally realise that you can be on your own and still have a good time and cope.
Being comfortable with the prospect of being alone also protects you from ending up in the wrong relationship. Too many people are in relationships as they love the security of being spared the fate of being alone. These people are mistaken in thinking that being with the wrong person is better. It isn’t.
4. You have freedom
Once you are single, you can make decisions about what to eat, when to go to bed, where to go on holiday, what to watch on TV etc. If you and your ex were quite different, this means that a lot of conflict can now be avoided as no compromise is necessary. Enjoy being your own master once again!
5. You can behave as quirkily as you want and no-one is there to judge
It is inevitable that we will pick up some “issues” throughout our lives. It can be an obsessive need for cleanliness, enjoying being in control, only being able to relax when working, fussy eating, watching embarrassing programmes on the TV or strange pornography. Everyone will have an oddity and NO-ONE is perfect.
The problem is that before marriage, we do not analyse our quirks and faults. Our parents offer unconditional love and our friends don’t really want to encounter awkwardness or conflict by enlightening us. Thus one of the best things about being on our own is therefore the sincere impression that we are pretty fab, just the way we are, quirks and all.
6. You can address the mistakes of your past
The past relationships we have grown up with will affect the relationships of our present. We are drawn to people who might recreate the emotions and dynamics we had growing up. We might have had a parent who was difficult to please and yet we always strived to win their approval. We may have had to be the parent to an unstable mother or father. We may have seen that to stay safe and get what we want, we have to be aggressive. We are unfortunately drawn to all kinds of destructive patterns which are familiar to us. You may have noticed that you rejected people who were too “nice”, logical and balanced for the excitement of these more destructive patterns.
In getting a divorce, you can now fully explore and understand what relationship pattern you were drawn into and steer well clear of this both in your current friendships and future relationships.
For more divorce advice go here.
Dr Isabelle Hung is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and clinical psychologist. Having got through her own divorce just three years ago, she is now remarried and happy to report that divorce really is an opportunity for growth and positive change.