When Should You NOT Be In A Relationship?

Stephen Hussey

Every society, in every age, is living under a set of “invisible truths”.

In Victorian England, it would have been: “Gentlemen must wear a top hat”.

In ancient Egypt, it would have been, “You need to be buried in a tomb chock full of trinkets and treasures when you die”.

In 2020, we still have the invisible truth, “mature people should be in a relationship”.

I’ve written about my own problems with this narrative before. I don’t think either being single or being in a relationship is a superior state of affairs. They are choices. Choices that both mature and immature people make for all different kinds of reasons.

So if it is not always good to be in a relationship, when should you choose to be on your own?

The short answer is: whenever you want.Whenever I’ve gotten into great relationships in my life, it’s because my choice was one that “sparked joy” (yes, Marie Kondo philosophy works for finding love as well).

It should feel like:

  • The good things in my life will only compound from being with this person (health, wealth, fun, family)
  • I am not sacrificing my happiness to be with this person
  • This relationship is going to add a huge amount of meaning to my life

These are the right reasons.

The bad reasons are:

1. Because you feel lonely

I’m always sceptical of this one. Not because relationships don’t help assuage that feeling, but because it suggests choosing a relationship is a way of escaping a bad situation, instead of sharing a beautiful life with someone.

It’s fine to admit a relationship would make you more happy.

But many bad relationships can falsely seem more appealing if you’re choosing them because you feel desperate and alone. Then when you figure out your partner is a bad choice, you have to break up and go back to square one again. And that can be scary.

The best choices are often made from abundance. At least feel like you have “enough” before you choose a relationship, rather than seeing it as a cure-all for feeling of existential loneliness. This is an important reason to nurture friends, family, a network of interesting people who make you feel connected and understood.

Choose a relationship from a place of strength, not weakness. It means you’ll choose better.

2. Because you feel pressured to

Perhaps you’re already in a relationship now. And you feel like you should stay.

But deep down: you know it’s not working.

If you think about the future with this person, you get a sinking feeling in your stomach. A black cloud of dread hangs over you when you realise how difficult it will be to break it off. And worse still, your family are putting pressure on you to tie the knot and get married.

If this is where you are, consider this your permission to end it now.

Life is short. But bad relationships are long as hell. If the only reason you have for being in a relationship is because you’re in one already and it will suck to leave: leave.

And if you’re single and feeling pressured, ask yourself if this pressure is coming from something you really want (i.e. marriage, kids, love), or if it’s merely because you feel pushed into it by the expectations of everyone around you. If it’s the latter, hold off. Keep the space open for when a relationship feels truly right and you actually want to dive into it with your entire soul.

3. Because you’re in a selfish phase of your life  

It’s no secret that we love to make ourselves feel guilty.

And it doesn’t help when people around us are good at piling on that guilt as well. They might use words like, “immature”, “selfish”, “childish”, “emotionally stunted”, to describe anyone who isn’t in a secure relationship-headed-toward-marriage by their thirties onward.

But life doesn’t work like a set blueprint you can hand to everyone.

Sometimes it’s totally fine to be in a selfish phase of life. It might be that you want to go full-force attack on your career for a few years. Maybe you want to forgo having to compromise and just dive into whatever you feel like relationship-free so you can answer to only you for the next few years. Maybe you want to be a solitary artist or a social butterfly.

The key is always self-honesty: Am I avoiding a relationship right now because I love my life and I don’t need a partner right now? Or is because I’m just scared? Am I going to regret it later on if I don’t get married/have kids yet, or am I completely ok if it takes me another 5 years before being committed to someone?

Once you know what you really want, you can stop making choices based on what everyone around you wants.

You’ll only answer to yourself.


If you’re ready to play your own game, love the journey, and transform your confidence to have the life you deserve, come and join us for 3 life-changing days at MHVirtualRetreat.com

2 Responses to When Should You NOT Be In A Relationship?

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  1. Brandy says:

    I really enjoyed reading your article. This has been a tough one for me these past few years. Even worse now with Covid-19. I feel like I’m stuck in a relationship that is not headed towards a life I want (marriage and kids). But I’m afraid to leave because I lose a big part of who I am when he leaves. I also lose the one person who listens to me and ‘puts up’ with me at my worst. I’ll lose my biggest emotional support when he’s gone. And it just seems silly to lose all of this during a time that’s impossible to meet new people. What do you recommend to people in my situation?

  2. Beth Sullivan says:

    Thanks for this article I was always the type to be happy with the path that I am on and whether that was in a relationship or being single I was happy with whatever happened for me its happens that I am very happy and living life as a single person with a cat and I am enjoying this journey! If a person comes along in the future well that’s fine too!

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