Why Being Single Is Better Than Being In A Crappy Relationship
We've all been there—that sick feeling in your stomach and the heavy wave of anxiety that washes over you when you realize your relationship is definitely not working. Maybe you've been fighting about everything, nit-picking each other to death, or dealing with more serious issues like infidelity or polar-opposite life goals.
But here's the part that's often even harder: Deciding whether or not to stay in the comfort of this crappy relationship or go back out into the dating world, which, from the outside, can look like a very scary sea of jerks.
Not only is every breakup hard—from explaining to friends and family why it didn't work out to feeling like you lost a part of yourself—but entering back into the single world can also be daunting. Still, staying in a bad relationship is definitely worse. "Research shows that one of the main reasons people stay in relationships is the fear of being single," says relationship expert Wendy Walsh, Ph.D., author of The 30-Day Love Detox, so obviously you're not alone.
How to Know if It's Time to Go
First, you need to distinguish between a toxic relationship and one that’s worth saving, says Walsh. Sometimes a 'good enough' relationship is one that can be worked on—maybe you just haven't had enough time for each other lately or one of you was still reeling from a previous breakup. These are things that realistically may get better with time and effort in the relationship.
On the other hand, a toxic relationship is one that is causing you stress, it's negatively affecting other areas of your life, or it's suffering from something that probably won't change anytime soon—like a partner's lack of commitment or respect. Research shows that a toxic relationship can actually impact your physical and mental health, so if that's not a reason to cut the cord, we don't know what is. If you intuitively know that things are past the point of no return, you need to go with your gut and move on. New research shows that gut feelings predict relationship happiness better than self-reported feelings, so don't waste time second-guessing yourself.
MORE: Relationship FOMO: When You're Afraid of Being Single
Why Singlehood Is So Much Better Than You Remember
The good news is that once you decide to move on, you can begin prepping for singlehood immediately—and not necessarily by jumping on the first dating site you see. Instead, focus on you and all those independent, awesome, totally random things you’ve always wanted to do that you may have put a pin in when you were coupled up. "You’ll be an attractive mate when you can become a fully whole person who lives a life with meaning and lots of connections," Walsh says. So that time you spend working on yourself can definitely help you when you’re ready for another relationship. And, while there’s absolutely no scientific evidence for this, isn't it always the case that you meet someone great when you’re the happiest, most productive version of yourself?
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You can also use your solo time to work on your health, your career, or your hobbies, instead of wasting hours fighting your way through a bad relationship. Join a writer's group, join a wine tasting club, or even volunteer at a charity that means something to you, Walsh suggests. Studies have found that one of the greatest anti-depressants is altruism, she explains. If you're still reeling from the breakup, that's a great place to focus your energy.
One more reason being single is better than being in a crappy relationship: You'll have more time to reconnect with friends, meet up for drinks after work or brunch on the weekends, and find someone who actually deserves you. And if that isn't reason enough to ditch a destructive relationship and dive headfirst into the single life, here are few more reasons why being single rules.
MORE: 20 Real Women Share What They Learned After a Breakup