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Ross ends up with Rachel on Friends, Han Solo with Leia in Star Wars. Neil Patrick Harris has David Burtka, and Beyoncé has Jay-Z—each in a pair. Sometimes the media can make it seem like just about everyone is one half of a couple.

However, this is hardly the case. A recent Student Health 101 survey found that about 40 percent of respondents were not in a relationship. Brett J., a sophomore at Fleming College in Ontario, Canada, says, “I find that the majority of people I know in college are single.” These students recognize that even though the media, friends, or family might not talk about it, there are major benefits to being single, especially in college.

Freedom

The recent Student Health 101 survey asked college students, “What are the benefits of being single?” A majority of the students’ responses are embodied by one word: freedom. “Many people like to feel free from attachment to another person,” notes Brett.

Being single means more time to grow as an individual, set personal goals, and enjoy free time. Unstructured hours in college can be hard to come by. When you’re single, it may be easier to devote time and attention to studying, working, and relaxing without worry about how your schedule and priorities affect someone else.

Being single can be a cost-savings, too. As Giovanna S., a second-year graduate student at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, points out, “You save money from not having to buy gifts!”

Enjoy Your Freedom!

When you’re single, your decisions are your own to make. Take advantage of the resources at your school and get involved in things you enjoy. Here are lots of ideas from other students:

Going Out:
  • Hang out with friends. See a movie, challenge your friends to a scavenger hunt or a pick-up basketball game, or just talk.
  • Take on extra responsibilities in your clubs, teams, or organizations.
  • Meet new people (and feel free to flirt!) at parties.
  • Save up money to do your favorite activities.
  • Go on a “date” with yourself.
  • See a concert. Campuses are always buzzing with music and shows, or maybe your favorite artist is on tour in the area.
  • Explore your town. Escape the confines of campus for a while and see what the area has to offer.
  • Go out to eat at a new restaurant.
  • Cheer for your school’s team at a sporting event you haven’t attended before.
Staying In:
  • Focus on your physical health. Go for a run or do crunches in your room.
  • Cook a potluck dinner with friends.
  • Bust out some snacks and bond with your roommates.
  • Clean and organize your living space.
  • Study an extra hour for a major exam without distractions.
  • Devote time to a hobby, such as a craft or musical instrument.
  • Catch up on your favorite TV shows.
  • Get some well-earned rest! Pull on your comfiest pajamas and just relax.
  • Chat with friends and family who live far away.

Single & Happy

Independence helps you discover your interests, strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits. With self-awareness comes a self-confidence that will help you succeed in all aspects of your life, including relationships farther down the road.

Dr. Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist on the clinical faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles Neuropsychiatric Institute, says, “It’s valuable to be single in college because this is the time when you need to experience ‘trying on’ different types of relationships.”

Jane B., an extended-term student at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, Massachusetts, shares, “It’s a great time to go out and just have fun. You don’t have to worry about spinach in your teeth. There’s no pressure, and you can be surrounded by friends.”

More than 70 percent of the Student Health 101survey respondents indicated that they don’t feel pressure to be in a romantic relationship.

When you’re single, your choices and plans for the future may be less hindered by another person’s influence. College is an amazing time to explore opportunities.

Four ways to let people know you're happy flying solo

I’m Just Fine, Thank You Very Much!

Is your Aunt Mildred bugging you about pairing up? Do your friends act like you must be lonely?
Here are some ways to tell them you’re happy on your own:

Parents:
Explain why being single is necessary for you right now. You could say, “I’m focused on my classes. I’m happy being single, because I have more time to study!”

Potential date:
Dates can be an opportunity to get to know another person without pressure. But if you prefer to decline, be kind, but firm. Try, “Thank you, but I don’t usually give out my number.”

Friends:
Explain that you’re busy spending your time in other meaningful ways. For example, “Theater rehearsals have been great this semester!”

Aunt Mildred:
Smile and let her know you appreciate the concern. You can say, “Thanks Aunt Millie, but I’m really having a great time in school. There will be plenty of time to meet someone later.”

More about personal goal setting

What Are Your Goals?

Now’s the time to focus on your goals. What do you want to do?

Here are some examples to explore:
  • Travel: Will you study abroad?
  • Courses: What will you major or minor in?
  • Activities: What clubs will you join on campus?
  • Leadership: Will you run for a position on the board of a club, sports team, or Greek-life organization?
  • Career: Are there summer internships or fellowships you want to apply to in order to advance or determine your career path?
  • Jobs: How can you excel so as to be promoted or given extra responsibilities?
  • Health: How often do you exercise and eat healthy meals?
  • Community service: Are there any volunteer opportunities in your town?
  • Hobbies: Is learning to play the guitar on your bucket list?


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Get help or find out more
Go Ask Alice!, I Don’t Want a Relationship, Okay?

DePaulo, B. (2007). Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. St. Martin’s Griffin, New York.

Cagen, S. (2006). Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics. HarperOne, New York. Bogle, K. (2008). Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus. NYU Press, New York.

Madden, M. and Lenhart, A. (2006). “Online Dating, Part 2: The State of Relationships in America.” Pew Research Center, Pew Internet & American Life Project