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  • Riane Capalad

5 Lessons I Learned From Being Single for Five Years

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

Single this holiday season? Me too! So what if I always end up going home alone... After five years of embracing singledom, I finally learned what love is— it exists in all forms. Here's why!

"Me" rror on the wall
Artwork by Panne Juanillo
But the truth is I thrive as a single person–and it's normal if you feel that way too.

As an almost single woman in my 20s, it feels like everyone around me is eager to play the role of matchmaker. So often, I get bombarded by my family and friends asking: “Are you dating right now?” or “You should meet so and so…” I usually end up giving them a casual “maybe” or "I'm good" for an answer. And then I often ask myself why this isn't a resounding yes: Are my standards too high? Am I too used to my freedom? But the truth is I thrive as a single person–and it's normal if you feel that way too.

Don’t get me wrong: I relish connecting with people or harmlessly charming my way out at a bar or party. As an air sign (Libra) ruled by the planet of love, I'm a social butterfly and strive for meaningful connections with all the things around me. My family loves when I’m around because I'm known for carrying the party. Even though I am open to dating and meeting new people (I'm working on it), why do I always end up choosing to go home alone...

(And by home, I mean heading straight to headquarters, taking a hot shower, and making sure I don't skip my skincare routine because that is a priority!)

In my five-year journey into this confident zone of singlehood, I've learned a lot, and I'm still learning, by the way. Today, I'm sharing a few of my standout lessons as a single woman.

(Remember this is only based on my experiences, at the end of the day, you get to design your life and learn your own lessons. That is my TED talk)

Lesson One: It's not that I can't get a partner–I am single by choice.

Singleness in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and over doesn’t automatically mean something is wrong with you. A research article in Frontiers explained that one of the main factors why men and women are single is “wanting to have freedom.” Some might come from a difficult breakup, emotional damage, lack of self-esteem, self-exploration, or other reasons that add up on the list of why men and women choose to be off the market. Ultimately, being single allows you to use the moment to focus on yourself while unlearning and relearning lessons in love, relationships, and life.

Psy.D., a clinical psychologist Roxy Zarrabi said, “Being single can provide a valuable opportunity to learn about your likes/dislikes, embrace your authentic self, and explore hobbies or activities you’ve been itching to try,” in a story at Oprah Daily.

My long-term solo commitment is a healing journey to figure out what serves me well, so trying to force things could do more harm than good. I give myself time to make sure I'm ready to go all-in for some real cosmic kind of love… emotional, spiritual, and physical.

Lesson Two: I'm okay with being alone–and it's okay to be lonely sometimes.

For five long years, I have been accustomed to being the unescorted, charming young lady during parties, couples trips, or gatherings. I have been called the third-, fifth-, and seventh-wheeler. You name it! But even though I was physically attending alone, I knew I wasn't lonely. For the most part, I adore my alone time building a healthy relationship with myself. But sometimes, there are days I'd like to tread through my loneliness without drowning in it. Even"Miss Independent" is entitled to be human. It's normal to feel all those emotions and not act on them, and if you're starting to feel like you can’t stay afloat, don't be afraid to ask for help from the people you love and trust the most.

Lesson Three: Family and friends add humor to life. They are your platonic life partners.

Family and friends have been my constant lovers. Not only do they support my decisions, but they understand me in ways that I can’t. I didn’t just thrive by being single: I blossomed because there are people in my life who truly resonate with my soul, listen to me genuinely, and accept me for who I am. It doesn't matter if you're biologically related or not. What matters the most is knowing you can be your most authentic self anytime and anywhere with them.

Find a moment to tell them how you appreciate every little and big thing they do for you!

Lesson Four: Loving yourself first can change who you attract.

If you're dealing with a crisis, you know that looking in the mirror leads to an existential questioning of the idealized version of yourself. Accepting self-love doesn't usually happen overnight. Be patient with where you're at and continue nourishing your soul by building healthy routines like practicing deep breathing exercises, repeating affirmations, journaling, goal-setting, taking a walk in nature, or treating yourself on a solo date.

Having to stretch singlehood for five years taught me to nurture every part of me that I found unbearable before. I’ve learned to let go and forgive others, including myself. Now, I laugh louder (I always do; who am I kidding?), dance sillier, and live fuller. When you prioritize yourself above anything else, you can expect winds of changes in your relationships with others and how you understand people from all walks of life. So, whether you are in a relationship or a free bird like me, loving yourself first can attract positivity and those with the purest hearts!

An overflowing cup means there’s more to share with others. It means having more than enough of your needs and willingly sharing them with the people around you.

Lesson Five: Love languages matter in all your relationships.

In the five years I've been single, I've had the time to reflect on how I want to receive love in my life—and in realizing this, I've learned that everyone and every relationship has a love language—whether it's friendships, roommates, or siblings. According to New York Times bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five love languages we need to learn and understand to have a fruitful relationship:

  • Love Language 1: Words of Affirmation

  • Love Language 2: Acts of Service

  • Love Language 3: Gifts

  • Love Language 4: Quality Time

  • Love Language 5: Physical Touch

I wanted to understand my love language more, so I took the quiz! Here are the results!

While one person may enjoy giving gifts as a sign of their love, another might say physical touch makes them feel connected. For me, my top 3 love language is acts of service, quality time, and physical touch! On the other hand, I show my love by cooking for the ones I cherish the most, sending postcards whenever I travel, and randomly messaging sweet and funny notes.

It’s the different kinds of love we sometimes take for granted that matter the most.

If you haven't taken the quiz, try it and share it in the comments below! Or else, share it privately with me, and let's have a conversation! Quiz Link!

This story is partnered with Panne Juanillo's artwork. She's an artist in the Philippines, and who's also my best friend! Show her some love!


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