With Valentine’s Day less than a month away and the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate appearing on the shelves of Walgreens, I find myself reminded of the time when I would spend countless hours perusing aisle upon aisle for the perfect box for my then-girlfriend. As a bachelor who experiences the common fear of finding himself dateless for Feb. 14, I take solace in the fact that I no longer bear the weight of my previous relationship upon my shoulders.
In the several months since the breakup, I have discovered many positive aspects to being unattached. Singles have the freedom and flexibility to not have to say good night or look after a certain somebody or feel the need to ask permission for a night out with friends sans their significant other, to name a few. Most importantly however, being single grants you the right to freely indulge your own time and self-investment to the nth degree; you get to be “unapologetically selfish.”
Finding the right partner is one of the most challenging endeavors that many of us partake in, though we persist with it because successfully doing so can be very rewarding. Some, however, believe differently. Courtney Porf from HerCampus offers a particularly interesting perspective to gain insight from: “I think that college is the best time to be single. It’s where we’re supposed to be exploring and diving into our personal pool of interests, and it’s really the last time we have no serious financial obligations or commitments and can be unapologetically selfish.”
Let’s delve into this notion of being “unapologetically selfish.” The concept speaks to the idea that you don’t have to feel guilty for doing nice things for yourself, such as eating out or impulse buying that cardigan from your favorite brand. Being “unapologetically selfish” occurs when you decide to splurge on yourself in some capacity, whether it is financially or simply doing something that benefits you exclusively. When you are “unapologetically selfish,” you don’t have to apologize to your significant other for treating yourself, because he or she is out of the picture. You don’t have to buy someone food because you want to do so for yourself. The only person you have to answer to for your actions is yourself. Did you want No Thai? Yes, so you bought some for yourself. Unapologetic selfishness is best experienced when single, when you can serve yourself to endless delight.
The concept of unapologetic selfishness transcends the mere material. It also speaks to your ability to have the freedom to choose how you spend your time. While single, you have no obligation to spend any amount of time with any given person, freeing you of responsibilities for anything not pertaining to your own personal matters. Instead of having to go on vacation with that girlfriend or boyfriend, you can study abroad, or take a day trip to a city you’ve never been to before, or simply read a book. Such indulgences sometimes contribute to long-term self-growth and maturity.
Beyond the liberty to choose to be uninhibitedly self-serving, being single also provides you with the opportunity to pursue intrapersonal growth. You only really know yourself when you spend time alone. For many, college is a time of tremendous growth: intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically (hello, freshman 15). This growth occurs in a rather small time frame: four years. When you spend every Saturday with your sweetheart instead of doing homework or spending time trying to build new friendships, you limit the opportunities you have to grow in those areas. Strong friendships often last forever, whereas even the strongest of romantic relationships in college typically fail to last for reasons that range from differences in career trajectory to the distinct development of your social circles.
While being single provides a college student tremendous freedom, collegiate romance is not without benefits. You never have to open Tinder to find a “cuddle buddy,” or think about who you’re going to ask to semi-formal because everyone you would ask either is busy or going with someone else. Most importantly, however, you get the opportunity to develop your emotional capacity, which will serve you well later in life. You get to look at your darling in the eyes and say “I love you” and learn what it means to care about someone in this capacity.
Those of you who haven’t yet had a serious relationship needn’t worry; you will have plenty of time to live out that experience long after your college days are behind you (or perhaps you may still meet someone who you seriously date in college!). When pursuing a romantic relationship, it is important that a) both parties are prepared for the commitment and b) both parties are in the same emotional place so there isn’t a disconnect in the emotional give and take that occurs between couples. Because this isn’t often the case for those in college, being single in college may allow you to get more out of your four years in the aforementioned areas than if you spend them attached to another person.
Moreover, remaining uncuffed gives you the chance to find yourself and develop who you are so when you meet your Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful, you can handle that responsibility with grace and you are each two whole parts individually rather than two halves making yourself whole. When you reach that point, you will have had your chance to be unapologetically selfish, and will thus have the capacity to accept the responsibilities and privileges of being romantically attached to another person. So as you sit at your table with a glass of wine and Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” plays overhead while doe-eyed couples hold hands, saying “I love you” and waltzing around you, remember to enjoy your unapologetic selfishness in this moment, and know that you will eventually meet someone who knows all your dance moves, inside and out. And they won’t make you pay for the wedding champagne.
Zachary Cox can be reached at email@example.com.