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How I got over feeling embarrassed and ashamed of being single

How I got over feeling embarrassed and ashamed of being single

“Be proud of who you are, not ashamed of how someone else sees you.” ~Unknown

“When was your last relationship?” my hairdresser asked as she twisted the curling wand into my freshly blow-dried hair.

“Erm, around two years ago.” I lied.

“Why did you break up?” she asked.

“Oh, he had a lot of issues. It wasn’t really working out.” I lied again.

This was something I excelled at, and it helped me to cover my shame about being in my early thirties without ever having been in a committed relationship. I was able to think for myself and no one would ever accuse me of being a bad person. The last thing I needed was people’s pity and judgment.

I sat down in my chair and thought about what she might have to say. Should I have informed her that I had never been in a committed relationship? Is she compassionate or judgmental? Would she feel sorry and believe there was something wrong? I didn’t want to take that risk.

I felt so ashamed and embarrassed about my relationship status that it was impossible to have any discussions. Or I’d lie or get defensive with family and friends who would bring it up, to the point that they noticed it was a sore subject and would avoid asking about my love life.

I learned to recognize how shame manifested in my physical body—the anxiety I felt when someone would ignorantly ask when I would be having children, the rapid heartbeat when asked if I would be bringing a plus-one to gatherings, and the knots in my stomach when I would be invited places that would consist of mainly couples.

My shame around my relationship status was what had kept me from speaking out because I was afraid that I would be judged harshly.

I felt like someone suffering from an addiction, who was in denial. I was so ashamed that I couldn’t bring myself to say the words “I’ve never had a serious relationship” to anyone, not even my closest friends and family, despite them knowing deep down.

The Quest to Find Love

I felt aggrieved by the fact that I reached my early thirties with no serious relationships. The creator didn’t love me; it had forgotten about me. I wanted to be loved and had given up on being alone.

I believed that being in love would make my life happier and more fulfilling. After all, this is what we are told in fairy tales—the princess gets her knight in shining armor and they live happily ever after!

Over the years I have explored the dating scene and tried out dating apps. I also kept a social life to meet new people. Over time, I met many men unavailable to me who left when I needed something serious.

It eventually became tiresome and took a toll upon my self-esteem. I felt insecure and unworthy.

I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong! Was I being punished? I was well-educated, with a good career and prospects, and I wasn’t bad looking at all. People who knew me considered me kind, outgoing and friendly.

Enough Is Enough

I was tired and frustrated, and didn’t have the energy to continue looking for a good match.

I became so fed up with feeling disappointed and bad about myself, that I began to give up hope on finding love.

I convinced myself that I would never find the right partner, that I wouldn’t experience the over-glamorized idea of love I had conjured up in my head from early childhood.

This only increased my shame. It told me that not only was I not good enough to have a partner, I wasn’t capable of seeing something through until the end, and I didn’t possess the courage to ‘tough it out.’ Shame told me I was a bad person, unworthy of love.

On a Sunday afternoon I was slumbering on my bed when I suddenly had an epiphany: Maybe it’s not them, maybe it’s you. This thought made me angry. Is it possible that I could be held responsible? I’ve done nothing wrong. My only fault is the desire to love.

Another thought was: Perhaps you can make a difference in your life. This thought didn’t get me as angry, and after reflecting on it for a day or two, I concluded that I had to take some responsibility for the kind of men I was attracting.

I took a step back from finding ‘the one’ and put my energy and focus on working on myself. I concluded that most of the qualities I wanted in a man I didn’t even have in myself—for example, confidence and assertiveness.

Show compassion for all things

I learned that shame can be ‘killed’ when it’s met with compassion, so I started being kinder and less critical of myself. I made an effort to avoid negative thoughts. I praised myself often and didn’t judge myself too harshly.

Despite it being difficult, I confided my shame about my single status to my friends. The more I told people that I was not in a serious relationship, I felt better and began to accept it.

It was like having to be vulnerable with the people I love was a lifting of weight. What’s even better was that I wasn’t judged harshly or pitied as I anticipated, and instead, I was shown love and compassion.

I remember telling a new colleague that I hadn’t been in a serious relationship, and she said, “Me too.” My fear of how she would react quickly turned to relief that there were people just like me, that I had nothing to be ashamed of.

However, I was careful about who I shared my story with, because not everyone deserves to see me at my most vulnerable. I knew I had a responsibility to make sure I received compassion, and wasn’t judged or ridiculed. This could have only added to the shame I felt.

Love is love regardless of where it comes.

I learned that love is love. I had plenty of it regardless of whether I was in a relationship. I didn’t need a partner to feel loved, and love isn’t less valuable because it doesn’t come from a relationship.

Friends, family, colleagues and even strangers can show love to us. This love is as important and meaningful as the relationship love.

This was the reason I started to practice self-love to increase my self-confidence and self-esteem. After all, the best relationship I’ll ever have is the one I have with myself.

Through daily affirmations, I learned to be kind to myself and say nice things about me. I was open to receiving compliments, I took the time to take care of myself and established boundaries when necessary.

As a result, I felt more confident and self-esteem and started to realize my worth and value.

The Need to Find Love: Let Go

Slowly, I let go of my desire to find love. I hadn’t noticed that it had completely taken over every part of my being. I wasn’t closed off to finding love; in fact, I was very open about finding a potential partner. Only this time, I was okay with it if it didn’t happen.

I stopped believing that someone would come to my rescue and realized that I could be my hero and best friend.

I stopped believing that I had to be in a relationship in order to be happy. Instead, I made the conscious decision to be happy right now. I felt liberated, free, and content in my current life.

After letting go, I realized that my shame around my relationship status was rooted in fear. I was scared of what people would think of me because I wasn’t meeting the status quo. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to start a family.

Where are you now?

I still haven’t met ‘the one,’ and I’m okay with this. I’m now content, happy, and enjoying the present moment of my life.

I no longer feel shame about my relationships or the fear of being left behind. I understand that I don’t have to be ashamed, as there are plenty of others just like me.

My single status is my superpower. I am able to make the most of this time to grow and learn. I cherish every moment that I am single. Because I know that if I do get into relationships, I will miss those moments when I’m single and have no one to answer too.

There are, of course, times when negative thoughts and behaviors try to rear their ugly head, but I simply remember who I am and ask myself, “Does this thought or behavior align with what I want or who I want to be?” If it doesn’t, I simply let it go.

For anyone reading this who’s experiencing feelings of shame and fear because they do not have a partner, remember you’re still worthy single, and you deserve your own compassion and love. You will be free if you are willing to give these things up for yourself.

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About Elyse Andrews

Elyse was a well-being advisor at a university, and also the founder of DaisyInTheDust. This blog is dedicated to self-development. Elyse aims to make her community the best they can be. She doesn’t believe in the status quo and societal norms, and her aim is to help empower her community to forge their own path.

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Tiny Buddha’s first post, How I Stop Feeling Embarrassed And Ashamed Of Being Single, appeared first on Tiny Buddha.

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