9 things you realize when you suddenly become single

For the longest time I viewed being single as a really big scary thing that I could never imagine myself doing. This makes sense when you consider the fact that I never allowed myself to be single. As an accidental serial monogamist, I’ve been with another person for most of my twenties. In fact, I did the math the other day and up until recently, I had only been single for three months since my 19th birthday.

And while I had pretty good relationships and not many regrets, I know that constantly being attached isn’t healthy. That’s why at 25 I’m trying to really commit to being single and stick with it for a while. And it’s been so far, so good. Sometimes it’s hard but for the most part I’ve really enjoyed this adventure and all the new things it has to offer. Here are some of the most important things I’ve realized:

Friends are the actual best

I’ve always had great friends, but I never really allowed myself to unapologetically hang with them since about high school. Back when I was attached I might worry about getting home to see the person I was dating or unconsciously make plans around seeing a partner. However since I’ve been single I’ve had a blast really enjoying my friendships. I make more plans with my friends then I did when I was in a relationship, and I hang out later and longer.

I text them endlessly, and call them to check in. I turn to them with questions and funny things that pop into my head in the middle of the day. The way I hang out with my friends now is more akin to the way I hung with them in high school, just simply ecstatic to spend time with them and not at all concerned about when or where I should be next. And now that I’m doing that again, I can’t believe I ever let myself live my life any other way.

You don’t have to feel guilty about crushes

I can have crushes on as many guys as I want and it literally doesn’t matter. I’m not hurting anyone’s feelings, I don’t feel like I’m being a bad person, and no one is getting hurt. I don’t have any obligations to anyone but myself. Even something as silly as admitting to a celebrity crush would get me into super trouble inside of any of my relationships, because it makes sense, feelings can get hurt over stuff like that. But now that I’m single there is no one to hurt, and that is pretty awesome.

Doing whatever you feel like every single night? It rules.

A few nights a week I’ll stay out late and explore the city and come home at impossible hours. Then there’s days like last Friday where I watched The Shining and knit a scarf for my mom. While some people might think the last one sounds a little sad, I’m actually equally happy doing both, because regardless of what I’m up to it’s exactly what I feel like doing that night. What I’ve realized is that when you’re in a relationship, it’s not always your time you’re spending.

Sometimes you have to be doing something your partner wants to do, sometimes you have to be doing something together (agreeing on a Netflix movie with another person is an actual nightmare. And while of these things can be really great, they still take time away from your own pursuits. Dividing your time with another person is a total non-issue when you’re single, because you’re the captain of your own ship. And if the captain wants to do arts and crafts while watching classic horror movies, that’s what is happening. Happy Friday!

Being independent is amazing.

There’s something so awesome about getting all your household chores down, buying all your groceries and putting them away, and just taking care of business. It isn’t much different than what I’d do when I was attached, but it’s a really cool feeling to be doing it for myself.

There’s something so satisfying and adult about doing all of this stuff for yourself and not for another person. Even walking down the street can feel awesome when it’s to accomplish something that you set out to do for you and only you. As wonderful as relationships can be, this feeling of control and autonomy is something I never got to experience inside of a relationship. Although I’m sad I missed out on it before, I’m happy to have it now.

You never need to hide behind the person you’re dating.

A lot of times when I was in a relationship I felt the need to mention I had a boyfriend to basically every person I met. This was because as a self-professed shy girl, I would often hide behind boys I was dating, like their approval meant that I was more of a worthwhile person. Now that I’m single, I realize that no one was asking or really cared. Not once has someone asked if I was seeing anyone, and it is really refreshing since I finally just get to be me, just Scarlet. Not Scarlet, “hey maybe you know my boyfriend” Meyer, but Scarlet.

It’s nice to only worry about one person (okay mostly only one person).

I’m a worrier by nature. It’s so bad that my childhood nickname was even ‘central scrutinizer’ for the amount of time I’d spend scowling at things and I try to decipher the world. As a result I think about everyone else’s needs before my own a good 90% of the time. I not only do this in relationships, but in work, family, and friendships as well. Having a habit of tiptoeing around everyone else’s lives doesn’t bode well for partnerships, because that means that I have another person smack dab in the middle of my life that I worry about more than myself. Removing the distraction of a partner has made it so I’m forced to focus on myself more, just because there is less urgency to worry about others. And even though I still find a way to do so, I’m definitely getting way better about only worrying about myself.

No one will judge you for your at-home habits.

Not that anyone needs to know this, but the other day I ate Hawaiian barbecue and watched romantic comedies, all by myself. The day before that I came home late at night from a party, and twisted my ankle pretty badly, all by myself. If anyone had been around to witness any of these things I might feel a little gross, low brow, or just plain old irresponsible, but no one was there so I was able to alternatively enjoy and curse them on my own. These are things that might be annoying or burdensome to a partner, but when I’m single they are my own problem, which is a refreshing change of pace. My quirkiness and screw-ups are mine to deal with alone.

You suddenly have more time and money than you’re used to.

There’s a saying that you either have time or money, not both. Someone in a relationship probably made up that saying, because now that I’m single I definitely have both. (Then again, I didn’t have to worry about moving out and recurring a ton of new expenses because of it; your milage may vary with that!)

Back when I’ve been in relationships most of my free time was put toward making time with the person I was dating. Now that I’m single I see endless stretches of nights and weekend ahead of me. That used to terrify me, but now I’m just psyched to use them for my own pursuits. Back in relationships I used to spend my extra money on going out and splitting the cost of things, but now it’s all going back to me. Time and money are definitely some of the weirder unforeseen benefits of being single.

You can be happy just doing your own thing.

The weird thing is that even on my crappiest single days, I’m still so stupidly happy to be where I am right now, and I haven’t felt that way in a really long time. I think it’s largely because I’m getting back to just being me. Not many people see being in a relationship as losing something, but as gaining something. And while that’s true, what I’ve realized is that in years of relationships I did let myself lose that little sliver of myself that is truly mine and mine alone. It feels incredible to be getting that back. Through this process I’ve learned that I’m truly my own best company, and no one is going to disagree with me on that since no one else is here.