Here we are on Valentine’s Day in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty, and everyone and their mother (and maybe your mother also) is spouting all sorts of nonsense about how you should feel about the state of your love life. It’s enough to drive anyone to hunker down on their couch in their jammies to catch up on episodes of Schitt’s Creek.
My general m.o. is using humor to compensate for my crippling self-doubt and insecurity. But as that’s apparently not “emotionally mature” or whatever, I’m developing the fun (read: not fun, but positive and constructive nonetheless) habit referred to as “naming.” This is when one feels their feelings then describes said feelings with words. And then once said feelings are named and arranged in ascending birth order, we get to choose how those feelings might inform our actions. As opposed to going with our knee-jerk response.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve learned coping mechanisms and defensive maneuvers that served you well for a time… but now mayhaps is a good time to rethink those. Because they might be sabotaging your best efforts to form healthy and happy relationships with the humans around you.
This time of year can highlight some of the less than accurate stories we tell ourselves and feelings we have about ourselves as singles. So, in the spirit of “naming” and “healing” and all that jazz, I’ve come up with seven myths it is high time we all let go of as singles. Because let’s be real, you’re all that and a bag of chips. Not perfect, but wonderfully human. And I think that’s swell.
1. There is something wrong with me.
Potential sources: That well-meaning married friend of yours asking, “Why are you single?”; feeling “not chosen” by the people you’re attracted to; sitting in church surrounded by couples and their kids; your relatives saying, “When I was your age…”
Truth: I am still in progress, but that does not make me unlovable.
2. God wants me to learn something before he brings me someone.
Potential sources: Hearing your married friends talk about the timing of meeting their spouse; viewing God’s as a withholding schoolmaster; self-blaming in an attempt to feel more in control; viewing marriage as a reward for VIP Christians
Truth: There is always something to learn, but God’s provision is not dependent on my performance.
3. I’m being too picky/not picky enough.
Potential sources: friends diagnosing your dating woes with one of these two phrases; minimizing the importance of our desires and preferences; over-pressurizing messages about dating and marriage; lack of understanding of our own relational dysfunctions.
Truth: It is ok to want specific things in a partner, but it is possible that I am not in touch with what is truly sabotaging my dating efforts.
4. I just need to wait for God to bring me his best match.
Potential sources: Dating advice from your friend who met their spouse in college; “soulmate” ideology; fear-based passivity disguised as “faithful waiting”
Truth: Actively engaging in my own life honors God. I do not need to hide from experiences that make me uncomfortable.
5. When I’m content in my singleness, God will bring me a partner.
Potential sources: Dismissive platitudes from your married friend who gets uncomfortable when you express dissatisfaction; theology that says “If I don’t have what I want it is because I am doing something wrong”; treating marriage as a reward for faithfulness to God; spiritual bypassing
Truth: Sometimes I feel content in my singleness, but sometimes I also feel frustrated and lonely. God created humans with complex emotions, and Jesus experienced all of them.
6. If I love being single, then I’ll be too content and miss out.
Potential sources: that friend who is uncomfortable that you are happy in a way they do not understand; fear of missing out; messaging that singleness is a consolation therefore you could never be truly fulfilled without a romantic partner; fear of regret
Truth: Life is filled with many fulfilling and disappointing experiences. I do not know what might happen in my life or how I will feel about it, but I can prayerfully consider how to best move with God in this moment and how he might be calling me to experience and demonstrate his love.
7. I need to work on a bunch of stuff before anyone could be interested in me.
Potential sources: comparing my insides to someone else’s outsides; perfectionism; shame of past sin or mistakes; abuse and trauma
Truth: It is possible that I learned unhelpful relational habits, but I can learn new approaches from the Holy Spirit and positive, grace-filled relationships. Though I still struggle with fear and shame, I contribute meaningfully to my relationships with the people around me.
Naming and sifting through these myths and where they come from can be heavy work. It’s a good idea to not sit and stew in all this stuff, so take a second to reach out to a close friend whom you trust and make plans to talk.