‘Self-partnered’ is the mindset shift you might need

In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with media telling us that settling down and finding love is the ultimate goal, being single and loving yourself can be the ultimate power move.

Written by High Life North
Published 24.11.2023

It’s exhausting having to constantly explain why you’re still single and justify your desire to not be frantically searching for someone to be with.

Well-meaning relatives are always asking if you’ve met someone special yet – especially at this time of year – and it can feel like our friends are all settling down and moving on without us.

The fact of the matter, however, is that whilst finding love is great, most of us have far more going on in our lives than needing to worry about how close we are to finding the one.

Emma Watson coined the term “self-partnered” in a 2019 Vogue interview when she was talking about the anxiety and pressure that came from turning 30, and it’s a perfect description of how many modern women are choosing to live their lives. Rather than giving in to the pressure to have a house, a husband, a baby and a flourishing career before they’ve even reached middle-age, more and more women are choosing to take care of themselves and engage in developing their lives as an individual, rather than as one half of a partnership. And hey – if it’s good enough for Emma Watson, then it’s certainly good enough for us too.

Being single has so many benefits and rather than meaning you’re unlovable or undesirable, what it really means is that you’re refusing to settle for anything less than the best. More and more women are now choosing to self-couple and find love within themselves, rather than elsewhere. There are thousands of dating guides out there that tell us in order to find love, we have to first love ourselves.

Whilst they aren’t necessarily wrong, we should be loving ourselves for ourselves, not because it might snag us a better Tinder date.

You have more time for yourself

When you’re in a relationship it can be lovely to always have someone on hand to do fun things with, but by default, you end up with less time to spend with yourself. Spending time alone is essential to everyone – it gives you time to relax and unwind and you can really switch off and do whatever it is that you do to leave the stress of the day behind. This time alone is also amazing for self-reflection.

You can make time to work on yourself and think about what you really want. Maybe an interaction at work left you frustrated about your lack of authority, or a friend has crossed boundaries that you wish you were firmer about. Maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t because there’s always been something or someone tying you to your current life.

Sitting with yourself to work out which areas of your life you want to grow and change, and what about yourself you really love are great for personal development. You discover exactly what you really enjoy doing for yourself, with yourself. It might be an exercise class you discovered, a Netflix binge-worthy boxset that interests you, or a hobby that helps release creativity you didn’t know you had.

You have sole accountability

This one seemed to be a big one amongst HLN readers. Regardless of whether they’re in a relationship or enjoying the single life, many of the women we spoke to said the thing they loved the most about being single was that you’re only accountable to yourself. If there’s a mess, it’s only your mess to clean up. If there’s somewhere you need to be, you only have to worry about yourself being on time. If you want to have cereal for tea and a roast for breakfast, it’s totally your prerogative.

Katherine Wildman, Creative Director and Copywriter at Hayden Grey, summed it up beautifully – not that we would expect anything less: “I like everything. Truly. Making toast at 4am, not washing up until I want to, not being tidy unless I want to. Honk laughing and not having to ask permission to do anything, ever again. Amen and hooray for that. The sense of freedom is intoxicating and hasn’t yet faded, six years post-divorce.”

It seems like women everywhere appreciate sole accountability more than anything else in their life – and we can’t blame them. Taking care of yourself helps you develop higher standards for yourself, and therefore other people as well. That way you’re far less likely to put up with living with a slob in any future relationship or tolerating someone that doesn’t appreciate the things that make you truly you.

You make your own choices

Learning to look after yourself and take pride in your surroundings, is one thing, but this level of independence also helps you develop a much higher level of self-assuredness in your decisions and opinions too. Choosing your own meals to cook without having to ask if the other person fancies it or going to bed whenever you want without the fear of waking your other half up. Deciding what films to watch, parties to go to and just how you decorate your home without an external input are incredibly liberating. You have to rely solely on your own gut feelings and opinions and you can learn to make a decision without second-guessing or having to worry that your partner doesn’t agree with it.

Learning to know your own mind and what exactly it is that you want is useful in all areas of your life. It makes you more decisive and authoritative at work, it makes you a better friend, it gives you healthier boundaries and the ability to enforce them. It can also set you up for better romantic relationships in the future. Knowing just what you want and enjoy sets a precedent for all future people that may enter your life. You’re sure of what you will and will not tolerate, what can be a deal-breaker and what you’re less bothered about. It helps make for an all-round healthier mindset that vastly improves your life, and is something that’s harder to enforce if you’re a serial monogamist or have been in back to back relationships without room to breathe and learn about yourself.

It can feel overwhelming being bombarded with reminders of romance and relationships, especially this time of year, and it feels like every film, advert and Instagram post is pushing us to constantly be on the lookout for a potential partner.

So, next time you see a #couplegoals post on Instagram, remember that being single can be one of the best things you can do for yourself – and you don’t need to share it with anyone.

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