3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Single

A few important things to keep in mind when you're not in a relationship.


I dusted off one of my old journals the other day. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t such a good idea.

I half-laughed/half-cringed while reading through the pages, listening to my 20-year-old self talk about life and dream about the future. I had a pretty good head on my shoulders (or at least I thought so), but even so, looking back I realize I had so many things wrong in my mentality as a single person.

There are so many things I know now that I wish I knew then—so many things that would have spared me heartache, grief and straight-up saved me time! I spent so much time dreaming, worrying and thinking about things that would never actually happen. I invested my energy in the wrong places and my emotions in the wrong people.

I get that some life-lessons have to be experienced in order to be learned, but I don’t always think that’s the case. Sometimes, I think someone who’s “been there, done that and learned from it” can give us some perspective and steer us in the right direction. As I reflect on my time as a single, here are some things I wish someone would have told me:

The most important person you could ever get to know is yourself

Sound obvious to you? Than you’re better off than I was. Back then, I probably would have told you that I “knew who I was,” but I really didn’t. The truth is, I didn’t take the time to get to know myself until far too late in my life as a single. And I don’t think I’m alone in that.

So many times, our years of singleness are spent focusing on who we’re going to be with, rather than who we are. Countless hours and limitless energy are poured into getting to know the person standing before us, many times, at the neglect of ourselves. We can spend so much time trying to find the right person, that we actually lose ourselves in the process.

I wish someone would have clued me in on the fact that getting my stuff together was a huge piece to the puzzle of a nourished relationship. Instead of fixating on relationships, I wish I would have invested more time in developing interests, understanding my personality, working through my past and wrapping my brain around my identity in Christ. Because at the end of the day, you can’t really know what you want in a relationship until you know who you are.

You will always attract the kind of person you believe you deserve

The truth is that we all come with some sort of a price tag. We rely on so many superficial things to measure our value and our worth by: appearance, intelligence, success. But no matter how you choose to calculate it, your price tag is determined by one thing and one thing alone: Yourself.

I wish someone could have told me that you get to determine the price that you will place upon yourself. But more so, I wish I would have known the reality that the price I choose is also the price at which I’ll be purchased. I spent so much of my life undervaluing my worth, thinking I wasn’t good enough, smart enough or cute enough. I made decisions based on what I believed I deserved, and my inability to see my true worth took me down some roads I wish I never would have traveled.

It’s important to get real with the price we place on ourselves and realize how valuable we are, because we have been made by a God who said so. A God who saw we were worth so much and paid a high cost just to prove it. One thing I wish someone would have told me is that if you want to attract someone who values you, you’ve first got to value yourself.

Your story has far more to do with who you are, than who you’re with

It’s hard not to be single-minded when you’re on the search for love (no pun intended). It’s easy to focus in on your desires in the here and now. But the truth is, finding a relationship is just part of God’s bigger story for your life. I think the most foundational truth that I’ve learned now that I’m a married woman is that my life has far more to do with finding my purpose than it ever did with finding someone to marry.

I love my husband, and I’m blessed by the marriage we have, but I realize that this relationship is just part of the bigger picture God has for my life. My purpose, my security, and my value weren’t resolved in the arms of my spouse. There is so much more that God has made me to do and to be, and so much more that I want to become.

Finding love is just part of the equation of my story, and it’s only part of yours, as well. Seek to find your purpose and pursue your God-given passions while standing alone. Because one thing I wish I would have known is that you’ll never regret investing in God’s bigger picture.

No matter who you are or what you’ve been through, my prayer is that you learn from my mistakes, because sometimes a simple perspective change can make all the difference in your life—and in your relationships.

An earlier version of this article appeared at truelovedates.com


is a Licensed Professional Counselor, relationship expert, national speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates. Her newest book for singles and couples, Choosing Marriage: The hardest and greatest thing you'll ever do, is available for pre-order and set to be released this Spring. Debra is also the creator of the popular relationship advice blog, www.TrueLoveDates.com, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!

9 thoughts on “3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Single

  1. Can we talk about the wisdom of Jesus someday, in how it relates to marriage. He died for our sins and lives for us and loves us and prays for us. He knows what we need even if we cannot understand or articulate it. Life happens and none of it-no matter how “goody-goody” you may seem, is pretty or can be avoided. It just is.

    Ahhh, when I hear all of this advice I just think “acceptance, acceptance…God’s will, His good and perfect will..God’s will be done…He is in charge!..if I make mistakes or fail to follow His will…and I HAVE to trust Him”! Trust God before anything else or anyone else! Easier said then done.
    My life has been full of roadblocks and I can say that a lot of it was my fault..(sort of), but we all have to live with the so-called “hand” that we are dealt, right? That sounds bad, but it is just a figure of speech, obviously. And, this writing makes me think/feel that..not everyone can have this scale model of what an idealized contemporary Christian “life” looks like..so then what? We aren’t lab rats, after all. I think part of my “purpose” has been to have a difficult and traumatic life and now I have to let Christ pick up the pieces of my heart. That is all I can do! Would it be any different if I was a Rhodes scholar or in seminary? I don’t know. I understand that there are always ways to feel insecure, even if you are married! Obviously you have to be yourself..and truly genuinely what/who you are depends on God’s will and your response to that, in other words–you can choose! Or not. Isn’t that nice? To be able to make your own choices about who you are and to not worry about what others think of you? How precious that is! Who you are is your gift to the world! ONLY because of God who is working in you–if you allow Him to! If you make the choice to yield your heart, mind, soul and so on. Who can tell what that really means on a personal level? We are all unique.

    The world is so much bigger than marriage. Marriage seems so inconvenient to me anymore. Even more so than ever. How completely unrealistic to think anyone would want to marry an aimless person with no purpose!

  2. My parents are fighting now. Wow I am so so so so glad I am not married! This is so depressing. My dad’s like Jesus Christ aww f*ck it! Yeah marriage is evil.

  3. This concepts may well be true, but I think they apply to both single people, as well as married. I know plenty of married folks who struggle with many of these same things, within their marriage, as well as outside of it. To be honest, it’s almost insulting to insinuate that this information solely for single people.

  4. These concepts may well be true, but I think they apply to both single people, as well as married. I know plenty of married folks who struggle with many of these same things, within their marriage, as well as outside of it.

    As a married person, it is also very important to know yourself and who God is in your life, to find your value in Him and seek relationships that nourish you in this way and to recognize that simply being married does not mean you have ‘arrived.’

    I think this article would be more aptly titled and tweaked to focus on “3 things I wish I had known in my 20’s,” as these things are learned by growth and maturity, not by being married. To be honest, it’s almost insulting to insinuate that this information solely for single people.

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