By Charlotte Watts
As a young woman living in today’s society, I can’t deny that I’ve fallen victim to the media and society’s pressures to ‘find the one’, as if this will magically solve every issue in my life and provide me with a never ending supply of happiness (fake news). It’s taken me a long time – and trust me, I’m still working on it – but I’ve finally started to realise that there’s more to life than romantic relationships.
Enriching your current relationships
A lot of people (myself included) can be guilty of wasting time wishing to ‘settle down’ or meet ‘the one’ but how about instead of wishing your life away, you put your focus into enriching the relationships you already have? Aside from the sexual element (unless you’re embarking on a friends-with-benefits situation – enter at your own risk), you can find almost every aspect in platonic relationships that you are so desperately seeking in romantic relationships, if you just put some effort in.
PSA: did you know that you can do thoughtful things for people that aren’t your romantic partner? Why this is such a wide kept secret, I’ll never know. Sending an unexpected letter in the post, buying someone that little gift just because it made you think of them, planning fun days out – all of these things are so often ignored by single people. Being on the receiving end is great and all and it makes you feel loved, but there’s also joy to be found in giving. You’re missing out on all these happy feels just because you’re single? Hell nah.
You might feel like your friendships aren’t on that level, but if so – take them to that level. Be a big girl (or boy) and make the first move. I’m not saying turn up at their front door with a bunch of flowers (I’m also not saying don’t) but small gestures go a long way and once people start to return the favour, it’s just an ongoing cycle of love and appreciation (and sometimes snacks).
A special shoutout is in order for the girls that buy you a ‘galentines’ card, even when one of them actually has a boyfriend. Thanks for making Valentine’s day feel less tragic.
Why self-love is the best love
I know everyone’s yelling about self-care and self-love these days, but your relationship with your self really is the most important one in your life. You came into this world together and you’ll leave together. You might as well have a good time together.
When you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to forget that you were a whole person before you met them. Despite what society tells you, you are not looking for your other half. This insinuates that when you’re single you are half of a person – which you are most certainly not. You have your own hobbies, your own interests, your own lifestyle, and if someone nice comes along and enriches these things – then props to you! Just don’t confuse enriching with changing.
Now, we all know the feeling of being absolutely besotted by someone (if you’re lucky, it was reciprocated), and it’s all too easy to want to spend every waking (and sleeping) moment with them. WARNING: Don’t do it. If you ate your favourite food (pic & mix for me), every single day, it would get boring. Yes, Cheryl Cole’s Fight for This Love taught me that. So (pic &) mix it up a bit! If you put all your attention into this one person and neglect all your other relationships, you’ll eventually feel like they’re the only good thing in your life – when actually, they’ll be the ONLY thing in your life. You might end up staying with them because you feel like you need to, not because it actually makes you happy.
One thing to bear in mind is that it is your life – yours, not yours and theirs. I’m all for compromising in a relationship (to an extent), but your relationship with yourself should ALWAYS be the priority. Start looking after yourself like you would look after your best friend (who you love very much and buy surprise gifts for). Would you stand by and let someone dictate how your friend dresses, how she does her makeup, what career choices she makes? No. So don’t let someone do it to you. If they feel the need to change you, I hate to break it to you, but they may just be the wrong person.
As we are often so young when embarking on our first relationships, it’s easy to be influenced by our partners, and eventually those influences mould who we grow up to be. If you’re lucky enough to be with a good person, this might not be a bad thing, but it can train you from a young age to rely on your partner too much.
For example, you shouldn’t rely someone else to build your confidence. Of course, it’s lovely to receive a compliment – but when these compliments become your only source of self-worth – you’re in trouble. If you put all your self-worth into the reaction of your significant other – you’re going to feel totally worthless when you break up. Friendships are likely to last longer than relationships, so make use of your pals for pick-me-up confidence boosts. They’ve seen you at your absolute worst and can still think of something nice to compliment you on (go team), which takes me nicely on to the beauty and joys of female friendships.
The beauty of female friendships
- Hyping: sending your birthday outfit to the group chat to receive flame emojis and exclamations of how great you look – a quick shot of Lizzo style self-love from your team. Don’t underestimate the importance of your hype girl gang.
- Closeness: female friendships are on a whole new level of closeness. Found a suspicious ingrown hair and want a second opinion? Need someone to squeeze that spot on your back? I don’t deny that eventually I would hope to reach this equally disgusting and endearing stage in a romantic relationship, but this is certainly uncharted territory while you’re still trying to uphold your dignity in the ‘girls don’t fart stage’ (we do, and our pals know it).
- A friend for everything: one thing I’ve noticed as I’ve got older is that (if you’re lucky enough to have more than one), your friends can serve different purposes, and there isn’t the pressure for them to know how to help with every single one of your problems. Of course you should be able to rely on all of your pals in a crisis, but certain people are fab for certain things; we’ve all got that friend who we call when we need life admin help, or the pal who’s always going to be your karaoke wing-woman. There’s the one who you call when you want to sit in and eat ice cream, or the one you’ll run to when your boss is driving you crazy. We are multi-faceted beings that need multi-faceted friendships. The moral of this long-winded story is that one person can’t give you everything, so stop expecting them to. Recognise your friends’ personal strengths and each of their positive influences in your life.
I’m a huge fan of Sex and The City, but one thing has always bothered me: the harsh divide they portray between single and ‘marrieds’. We can all relate to feeling a bit pathetic and tragic when our friends are telling us about the surprise romantic getaway their partner organised, while all we did that weekend was rip our new trousers trying to do a slut drop.
But this is often all in our heads. This divide doesn’t need to be so prevalent. They’re not judging us – in fact, they might even be slightly jealous of our trouser splitting shenanigans. My point is, don’t instantly be defensive when they mention their boyfriend (like it or not, he exists, and he’s going to come up).
If you’re sat at home swiping all weekend praying to god you’ll meet ‘the one’ on your Saturday night out, you’re going to be bitter. You’re going to be jealous. Make plans with someone platonic and get out of that rut. We’ve all been there – you don’t even want to go out, but the slight chance that you might talk to a boy (yep, it’s pathetic) or the old ‘but my future boyfriend might be out tonight and if I don’t go out then I’ll have missed my chance’ (again, pathetic, but we’ve all been there) pressures you into it.
Turning up on Sunday to meet your ‘married off’ friend isn’t going to be fun. Yes, they’ll sense your shame and feel uncomfortable talking about how happy they are – which isn’t fair. Don’t punish them for being where you want to be. Show them how happy you are for them (fyi, you can be happy and jealous at the same time). If all you do you is guilt trip them for being in a relationship, they’ll probably retreat to their partner’s house, and who can blame them? And that, my friends, is what we call self-sabotaging.
Before I get tarnished as a relationship-hater, I want to state that I know how much joy can be found in romantic relationships. Having that person by your side (with regular breaks to see your friends) can be amazing – but you don’t need to waste your single years pining after this feeling. You have everything you need all around you, you just need to spend a little time tending to these existing relationships, one of those being your relationship with yourself. Instead of counting down the days til you won’t be single anymore, count all the amazing things that you CAN do when you’re single. At the end of the day, if you stop and take a minute to look for love in your life, you’ll find that love actually is all around (yes I went there).
Charlotte is the creator of Chazzle, a ‘wholesome lil baked bean’ set on serving you love & support as you navigate the minefield that is self-acceptance. Working at a modelling agency, she knows all too well the pressures put on the youth of today to fit into a certain size, and look a certain way. Charlotte hopes that by spreading Chazzle’s good vibes, she can help break down these pressures and encourage people to measure their self-worth on more than just their appearance, because we have so much more to offer. Follow @chazzle for your daily dose of happiness.