How To Enjoy Life When You’re Perpetually Single And Looking For Love: A Complete Guide

At a young age, you are taught by fairy tales, romantic comedies, and love songs that finding a romantic partner is your ultimate road to happiness and you will just know it when you meet them. You picture yourself having a meet-cute moment with someone, falling deeply in love, getting married in your twenties, building a family and having children in your thirties, then growing old together. However, as an adult, you slowly come to realise that, more often than not, this is far from what happens in reality. 

After countless failed attempts at relationships and being single all your life, meeting the one — your soulmate, your other half, or whatever you may call this person — has somehow become a dream that you can never quite put your hands on. As you grow older, things get even more stressful because of social pressure. You wonder if something is wrong with you or if your person even exists in this world of 7.5 billion people. You lose hope seeing how disappointing modern-day romance can be and, at one point, decide to give up on love altogether. You start to resent loneliness and dread the thought of dying alone with your cats. 

Now, I have two confessions to make. Firstly, I am a romantic. Secondly, that vision of how life would play out… was mine. 

In my teens and early twenties, I never cared much about relationships as I prioritised my study and career. And what’s more, I never found that “This is it!” moment with anyone. At that age, I was happy when my life was filled with achievements, tight-knit friendships, and exciting adventures. 

One day, however, that changed completely. As my quarter-life crisis gradually unfolded and my maternal instinct awakened, I started to yearn for love and family more strongly. Seeing friends coupling up, getting married, and having children one by one made me feel like I was falling behind and running out of time to fulfill the dream I once had. 

I wanted love, I wanted it desperately, but I was terrified of giving my heart to the wrong person. With every encounter that eventually led to nothing, I became more anxious, conflicted, jaded, and hopeless. This started eating me up from the inside and, for some time, turned me from an empathetic person with a can-do attitude into an utterly depressed and cynical human being. 

Before I could no longer recognise myself, a dear friend had come to the rescue like a fairy godmother. Having found her path to love the hard way, she inspired and guided me to discover my own. In short, my journey to a happier single life involved making two radical changes.

The first step was to stop 3 things that kept me from being myself and pushed me away from the love that I wanted.

Stop holding onto the past.

Holding onto the past is the first habit that needed to be cut out of my life. Any moment you are too busy replaying the past is a moment you are not in the present and fail to see how great your life is, how many things you love and people who adore you there are. If you cling to past wounds, you risk falling for anyone who brings you that familiarity of hurt, because it is all you know about love, not because it is what you want and need. 

I have a good memory. It’s amazingly helpful when it comes to memorising notes and important appointments, but it’s annoyingly unhelpful because it enables me to go over every little detail of past events again and again. It usually took me an awfully long time to move on from an unpleasant experience, especially if it was a heartbreak. The more I tried to forget, the more I remembered, and the more frustrated I became with myself.

What helped me move forward was accepting that leaving the past behind does not mean forgetting. Instead of spending time and energy reliving earlier life chapters, I learned to see them in a new light — as good memories and valuable lessons. I adopted the habit of self-reflection and mindfulness. It quickly and smoothly got me through difficult times when I might have felt wronged and unworthy. 

Stop treating your long-term single status as baggage.

The next thing that was harmful to my love life was treating my long-term single status as baggage. I often criticised society for dismissing singletons but it was actually one of the many ways I hid my self-doubt and shame. It was not only bad for my self-esteem but, as my friend pointed out for me, also reflected in the way I treated other people without me realising it. 

Fortunately, I’d already done the hard work of accepting this pattern as unhealthy. Focusing on fulfilling aspects of my life — such as an education that I am proud of, a meaningful job that I love, memorable experiences and investments I’d made in my early 20s that are beginning to pay off — helps me reinvent myself as an independent, successful, and deserving person. 

Once I firmly believed in my self-worth, it was as if the world around me also believed in me and started shifting towards positivity. All my relationships improved. I also met more people and had better connections. Recently, I learned about the Law of Vibration. It says everything we get or do not get in life is a result of the energy (or vibration) we give off, and I could see how it might have been at play then.

Stop seeking love as a life solution or to fill a void.

The final push for me was to stop seeking love as a life solution or to fill a void. I am a fan of the movie 500 Days of Summer. I’ve seen it many times and every time I felt sorry for the characters and the romance that was doomed before it even had the chance to blossom. However, as I watched it again on this journey to regaining inner peace, I couldn’t help but see the old me in the protagonist. He believed he would never be truly happy until he found the one, projected his fantasies and expectations onto someone who could not give him what he was looking for, and inevitably got hurt.

It is important to remember that we are not perfect, our partners are not perfect, and we need to develop our identities and work on our own issues before we ourselves can be good partners in a loving relationship. With that in mind, I’ve spent many days reflecting and learning about myself in ways I never thought of. Throughout this period, I feel grateful for being single because this is the best timing for self-discovery and personal growth, which leads to the next stage. 

Once I freed myself from bad habits, the second step was to start 3 good habits that bring me a more fulfilling single life with bright hope for a healthy relationship in the future.

Start practicing self-love.

On the top of my list, as many will tell you again and again when it comes to wellbeing, is practicing self-love. Simply put, I cannot make other people love me for who I am if I don’t love myself and truly believe that I am worthy of love. 

Personally, self-love must be built on similar foundations to what it takes for me to feel romantic intimacy with another person — in physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual senses. 

Loving myself physically means taking care of my physical welfare. This starts with the basics: having a healthy diet, sleeping enough, maintaining personal hygiene, and keeping active. It extends further to buying myself gifts and flowers on special occasions, giving myself pampering beauty treatments, indulging in my favourite desserts once in a while, and creating a comfortable living space for me to return to after a long day. 

Loving myself emotionally means accepting my feelings and practicing emotional first-aid. Even though I am a naturally emotional person, I never paid much attention to why I felt certain ways. This worked just fine for many years with rare temporary hiccups but proved to be highly ineffective during times of crisis. I would repeatedly get caught in thinking spirals, emotional breakdowns, bursts of bad temper, and prolonged depressing periods. I could do nothing but wait for them to fizzle out. Now that I know the names and faces of my negative emotions, I have much better control over them without taking it out on myself or whoever happens to be around.

Loving myself spiritually means being my own soulmate who treats me with respect and compassion. This comes down to replacing self-defeating thoughts with positive self-talk, whether by speaking in my head, looking in the mirror, or writing letters to myself. Instead of thinking “I look ugly”, I say “My hair is a mess, but I like how my eyes sparkle today”. Instead of saying “I am boring”, I say “It takes patience to get to know me on a deep level and discover my fascinating traits”. Instead of beating myself up with “I make so many mistakes, I am stupid”, I say “I make mistakes, so does everyone else, and I’m proud of myself for learning and growing”. The bottom line is: Affirmations are effective and powerful when I genuinely think they are true.

Loving myself intellectually means recognising my core values, needs, and boundaries and knowing how to effectively communicate them to other people. As someone who tends to be more forgiving than confrontational, this is what I had the most to work on but possibly what I made the best progress with, thanks to the help of friends, books, articles, videos, podcasts, and many personality tests. This process helped me appreciate my gifts as well as identify my desires, both of which will give me a better chance of picking a partner that is good for me.

Instead of saying “I am boring”, I say “It takes patience to get to know me on a deep level and discover my fascinating traits”. Instead of beating myself up with “I make so many mistakes, I am stupid”, I say “I make mistakes, so does everyone else, and I’m proud of myself for learning and growing”.

— Ha Bui

Start adopting an abundance mindset.

Next, my groundwork of self-love was strengthened by my adopting an abundance mindset. One of the reasons I found it extremely hard to move on from the past is because I always thought I would never find such a strong connection with anyone else. Fortunately, the saying “there is plenty of fish in the sea” is spot-on because, every single time, I did find another, usually even better than the previous.

When I started loving myself, I started believing that there are many people who would choose me for me, who would love me how I wanted to be loved and allow me to love them the way I was capable of loving. Although I may not find all of these to be true with the next person I meet, it’s a life-changing notion. Not only did I become more self-confident, hopeful, and motivated on my quest, but I also learned to not take things personally, which used to stop me from healing when things didn’t go the way I hoped they would.

Start welcoming unfamiliar experiences with an open heart.

Last but not least, welcoming unfamiliar experiences with sincerity helped me gain courage and open myself up to opportunities. Leading up to my quarter-life crisis, I found my life increasingly dull. I rarely got out of my comfort zone and put myself out there, yet I wondered why I hadn’t found love. 

As soon as I decided to rewrite my story and made lifestyle changes, repetition turned into moments of tranquillity and new experiences continuously came to me. As a result, I became less obsessed with finding love fast and began to enjoy the fun sides of singleness more.

Most importantly, I came to approach new relationships with an open mind, kindness, and vulnerability, without immediately getting preoccupied with whether they had the potential to turn into something more. Surprisingly, this also showed up positively in other aspects of my life, such as finding friends in people I never thought I had much in common with and gaining recognition for stepping up to intimidating work challenges.

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For the first time in my life, I actually don’t feel bad about being perpetually single or rushed to change my relationship status. The process has been neither overnight nor effortless, but I’m grateful for it. I continue to remind myself every day to make the most of my life while I carry on with my search for love. After all, I know my past self would be extremely proud of how far I’ve come and my future self will be thankful for my setting foot on this path of growth now rather than later.

Every person has their own timeline when it comes to things that matter to them in life, be it academic achievement, professional success, wealth, or love. I believe that whatever pace you decide to take, as long as you are living life to the fullest, constantly bettering yourself and keeping a leap of faith, love will find its way to you when you are truly ready.

Ha Bui

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