A Reader Asks:
I am an intelligent, accomplished, and passionate professional doing what I can to find the woman with whom I’m eager to spend my life. I know I’ll find her when the time is right; but in the meantime, I can’t help but feel that I’m waiting for my life to start. I don’t want to be unfulfilled, and would hate to look back with regret on this stage of my life. How would you recommend that I make the most of my single days?
Dating Coach Rachel Burnham Responds:
Life is a process of self-actualization. Some marry young and experience more of their growth within the context of marriage. Others will spend more time developing themselves as singles preparing to meet that right person.
While our experience tells us that there’s no universal right age for marriage, most can’t help but regard marriage as a life stage that should arrive at a prescribed time. What should your approach be when that approximate age comes and goes? Here are some tools to keep you focused, mindful, and positive throughout your journey.
1. Commit to Optimism:Aside from being very attractive on a date, a positive attitude creates confidence that you have much to offer the world beyond marriage. It’ll be contagious to those around you now, and will certainly come in handy when you are married. No spouse can ever make us happy if we’re not happy on our own.
2. The Power of You:Whether through classes, reading, or personal reflection, take this opportunity to deepen your understanding of who you are and who you want to become. Clarify the type of home you want to create, and the type of spouse that can best balance you. Identify the character traits and habits that you’d like to build or refine in order to become the best version of yourself.
3. Self-Care: Without the responsibilities of a spouse (and for some singles the time required to raise children) you can better keep yourself at peak performance by eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep. You’ll feel better all day and have more energy for dating. In addition — like it or not — when single, weight and appearances do matter more. Sorry guys, this goes for you too! If you need to lose weight, fix your teeth, take care of acne, get a haircut, or update your wardrobe, now is the time.
4. Internal Tune-Up: If you struggle with low self-esteem, fears/anxieties about marriage, unresolved anger issues, chemical imbalances, etc., speak to the necessary therapists or coaches to get that squared away. The only thing marriage cures is being single; it is not a solution for unresolved emotional, spiritual, or psychological stressors.
5. Develop Your Giving Muscles:If days, nights, and years are wrapped up in oneself, “giving muscles” tend to atrophy. We all need to build and tone our giving muscles by giving to family, community, and those less fortunate than us. Consistently keeping these habits as a single will make your marriage happier and stronger, while making the transition into marriage quicker and more comfortable.
6. Budget: As a single, we can have the tendency to be more free with money because... why not, what’s to stop us? Marriage and raising a family cost a lot, so saving when you have more disposable income is a good practice to adopt. Be careful though, you don’t want to deprive yourself either!
My practice throughout my single years and recommendation to singles is to split after-tax income in four ways:
1. Tzedakah (charity) (10 percent
off the top)
2. Living expenses
(approximately 35 percent)
3. Leisure (approximately 25 percent)
4. Savings for the future (approximately 30 percent)
7. Follow your Dreams: Aside from marriage, what are your dreams? Don’t put them off — there is no time like the present! If you have been dreaming of traveling, going back to school, or taking that cooking class, go for it. If you fear those pursuits may limit your dating options, no worries: You’ll probably only be filtering people who wouldn’t have been good for you anyway. Life is short and will only get more distracting, so make tracks now on the life you want to live.
You can live each moment of your life to the fullest by being productive, positive, and purposeful in every stage of life. Using your single time wisely will ultimately help you on the shortest journey to your longest relationship.
By Rachel Burnham