According to evolutionary theory the fundamental purpose of life is reproduction. We are therefore ‘pre-programmed’ to find a compatible partner, reproduce and raise our children.
This is, of course, greatly oversimplified and in the modern world, where many other factors come into play (such as career, travel, financial factors, health implications, personal choice etc.), it is not simply the case that all we must do in life is find a partner and raise a family.

Human beings are naturally social and companionable and we therefore seek company and companionship. Frequently a person will form a particularly strong ‘bond’ with a significant other with whom he/she enters into an intimate, affectionate and physical relationship. However, not having such a partner, or not being in such a relationship, is not the end of the world! Being single is not a terminal illness!

Why single people feel unfulfilled/unhappy:
•Social stigma – they feel that society is more ‘geared towards’ couples and they feel ostracised as a single person.

•Media pressure – images of content couples, happy marriages, etc. are represented as ‘the norm’ and they therefore feel that by being single, they are somehow abnormal.

•Concerns for their future – inevitably if you want to start a family and don’t have a partner with whom to do so, you may feel that there is a ‘time pressure’ (for instance women refer to hearing their biological clock ticking).

•Reduced social activity – many single people don’t feel able to enter certain social environments or pursue certain social activities alone (e.g. ‘I can’t go on my own to the cinema/restaurant/concert’ etc.).

Why it is wrong for single people to feel unfulfilled/unhappy:

•There are 11 million single people in the UK. There is nothing wrong with being single and just because you don’t have a partner it does not mean you are not normal! Being single does not reflect anything about you personally but merely reflects your present circumstances, which could change at any time.

•The media gives false impressions of many aspects of life (and not just relationships) for instance we are surrounded by images of people with ‘dream’ jobs, ‘ideal’ bodies, ‘flawless’ beauty, ‘perfect’ homes etc. and we inevitably compare such ‘ideals’ with what we have. It is wrong for us to judge our own self-worth based upon how we measure up to others. It is far more constructive and healthy if we can judge for ourselves what we regard to be important and work towards achieving these personal goals for our own personal gain (i.e. to make ourselves the person we want to be and not the person the media tells us we should be).

•Even if you are single and feel it is incredibly important for you to start a family there are ways in which you can do this: adoption, fostering, sperm donation etc. Being single is not a barrier to having children.

•Just because you are single doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself! Be more proactive: go out, take an evening class, visit the cinema, book concert tickets, go to that restaurant, take that holiday, etc.

Being single is something that should be enjoyed! It’s an opportunity for you to focus exclusively upon yourself and do exactly what it is you choose (be selfish and just please yourself!). It may feel daunting to do such things at first but with time and experience you’ll soon come to realise that it is nothing to be concerned about and you will begin to feel a lot more independent, self-secure, confident and fulfilled. You’re also a lot more likely to meet new people that way and who knows where that may lead!


1. Exercise – Even if you don’t have time to play sports or go to a gym, find time to walk, hike, jog, or dance at least a few days a week. It will not only improve your physical well-being; it will do wonders for your state of mind!

2. Keep a Journal – … or grab a notebook, scraps of paper, or the back of your hand and start writing! Research shows that the act of writing our experiences down helps us to process information and experiences and make more positive choices.

3. Eat Well – Even if you don’t have time to cook (or don’t want to!) making better food choices, like eating fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods boosts energy and mood!

4. Talk to People you Trust – Make time for socialising with people you can really be yourself around. If you’re feeling lonely, consider taking a class or taking up a new activity where you’ll meet new people.

5. Prioritize your Life – Take a moment to step back from it all and consider this: what will matter to you the most in one month from now? How about two years from now? Ten years? Thirty? Consider what is most important to you and try to let the little things slide: even if just for today.

By Susie Ambrose
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist

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