With the spotlight often fixated on the pursuit of love, it's easy to miss the hidden gems within singlehood.
Nov. 11 marks Single's Day — a day to celebrate unattachment, treating yourself and flying solo.
Read on for everything you need to know about the benefits of not being in a relationship and how to make the most of your time being single.
More people choose to be single despite stigma
According to a 2023 Pew Research Center survey, 57 per cent of single adults said they are not looking to casually date or be in a relationship, and only 13 per cent of respondents said they were interested in finding a committed romantic relationship. Coupled with 2019 Statistics Canada data that shows more people are choosing to live alone than ever before, it's clear more people are opting for singlehood.
"People nowadays have more personal freedom and choice," said Kat Kova, a Toronto-based psychotherapist with a focus on couples and sex therapy.
Kova pointed to the outdated notions of finding financial security and connection solely through a long-term committed relationship. People can now take the time to choose what kind of relationships they want, what relationships to prioritize and if they want more space and independence.
Aside from shifting attitudes on relationships, people can choose to be single because they are focusing on career goals, personal growth, family and friends or simply prefer their own wonderful company.
There's still a stigma around singlehood, specifically for people who choose and want to be single.Kat Kova
"There's still a stigma around singlehood, specifically for people who choose and want to be single," Kova said.
She added there might be a generational divide in attitudes — parents who may have sacrificed a lot to raise their children and want to see them with a partner and child. Also, there are still laws and policies in place that favour common-law partnerships or married couples.
"It's built into the system," she said.
Elaine Hoan, a singlehood researcher and PhD student at the University of Toronto, echoes this sentiment. She said people often think of singles as those in "transitory states," or temporary states, where you are constantly moving towards a relationship.
"People are often asking you 'when are you getting into a relationship?' or 'are you on the apps?'" Hoan said. "But some people really just want to have singlehood as a permanent status or at least for a longer duration than what others might think."
What are the benefits of being single?
In romantic partnerships, people are often spending a lot of time with one another, which can be referred to as "cocooning." But single people are more likely to stay in touch with their family, friends and neighbours, Hoan said, "contrary to some stereotypes about singles being lonely and miserable."
She also said singles are likely to prioritize their mental health and self-improvement.
Research published in the journal of Evolutionary Psychological Science in 2022 suggested people who are single feel like they also have more time for themselves and they can focus on their goals without having to consider someone else.
Jessica O'Reilly, a sexologist and relationship expert said singles are provided with opportunities to learn about their own needs and values with more flexibility.
"[It's] opportunities to invest in other areas of your life like spirituality, career and travel," O'Reilly said, adding people can still invest in these areas while they are partnered, but romantic relationships tend to take up more time. "And time is a limited resource."
The self-sufficiency and introspection one can have when they are single can also translate positively in any current and future relationships (romantic or not).
An essential point Hoan mentioned is that for people of colour and sexual minorities, singlehood can also provide a space for safety and security.
"Because they may have been in past relationships that were particularly harmful," she added.
How to get the most out of being single
Kova said being single can be a great time for experimentation. You can "own your nos" and "own your maybes," she noted, as well as test things out through trial and error.
If you are involuntarily single, she said to be wary of romanticizing long-term relationships too much. If you meet someone down the line, it's nice to be able to reflect on your time alone fondly, rather than as a time of wallowing.
But, she advised, remember to "feel your feelings" and if you are missing out on things a partner would provide, try to take warm baths, use weighted blankets and use other techniques that could elicit warmth, touch and comfort.
For additional strategies to fully embrace single life, O'Reilly recommended socializing with people who support you as opposed to people pressuring you to date or get into a relationship.
Hanging out with a range of people, whether it be other singles or couples can also be beneficial.
"Many couples enjoy having a third wheel as it breaks their usual routine," O'Reilly said.
She added that if you are living alone, make sure to reach out if you find yourself needing support or craving company.
"If you struggle to spend time alone, that's OK," she said. "There is no rule book that says you must enjoy solitude."
She noted some people enjoy being alone more than others (remember being alone doesn't mean being lonely!) but if you are someone who wants company or social interactions more frequently, plan for them.
Lastly, if you are someone who wants to spend more time by themselves, but struggles to do so, O'Reilly said to consider engaging in activities on your own, rather than just sitting alone with your thoughts.
"You may find that you develop greater ease and comfort with solitude if you come to associate it with activities you enjoy," she shared.