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What I learned from a year off dating - including that singletons aren't lonely

Mirror logo Mirror 16/1/2019 Catherine Gray
a woman is smiling while holding a glass posing for the camera: I used to be a serial dater desperate to find 'the one' © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited I used to be a serial dater desperate to find 'the one'

Five years ago, when I was 33 and single, my dad called me a spinster.

It was meant to be a joke but I didn’t see the funny side.

Despite having a lovely family and lots of friends, hearing that word – with its connotations of being washed up and left on the shelf – made me feel like a total failure.

At the time I was a serial dater who was desperate to find “the one”.

In fact, my friends used to call me “love monkey” because I’d swing from man to man.

But in the wake of spinstergate, I decided to take my happiness into my own hands.

a woman standing in front of a window © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

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Single people aren't lonely

I get asked a lot if I’m lonely.

Recently, somebody asked what my day looks like – as if I come home each night and cry into my microwave meal for one.

But the truth is I’m not remotely lonely.

It’s been shown single people have more friends and are more active in their community.

When you’re in a couple, you tend to be more insular – and this means friends fall away.

Apps are addictive

I used to meet people online and I was on a lot of dating apps. ­

Sometimes I was meeting people up to four times a week.

The apps are designed to be addictive, and I ended up spending far too much time on them.

Now I’m mindful using any app to make sure I don’t get obsessed.

To be honest, I think it’s a shame people don’t chat each other up in real life any more.

Single me is the real me

Being single for a year helped me discover lots of things about myself.

For example, I found I really like teenage American TV dramas like How To Get Away With Murder.

Before, I’d always watched ­whatever my boyfriend wanted to watch.

But when you’re single you fully discover what you like and who you are because there is no one else to consider.

I got into photography and yoga.

I also moved to Bruges in Belgium, which I wouldn’t have done if I was in a relationship.

The future is exciting

I used to be so scared of being single that I didn’t even let myself think about it.

Today I’m not scared. A ­relationship is not a necessity – it’s a choice.

I’ve started saving a deposit to buy somewhere by myself, whereas before I was waiting to meet someone to start saving with them.

I’ve lived in Barcelona and Bruges but I’d love to live in Paris and Bali too.

And I want to settle down in the country with lots of animals.

Yes, it would be nice to have someone to help me look after them.

But if not, I’ll just hire a stable hand.

A boyfriend is merely a bonus

I was so nervous before the first date after my year off.

We went out a couple of times and slept together.

Then he lost interest.

While once I would have cared, this time I didn’t.

I have a new perspective on life – that I am enough.

A boyfriend is merely a bonus.

I am dating at the minute, but I’m definitely still single.

I gave up men because I was addicted and dependent on them for happiness.

Now I know I can be happy without.  

  • The Unexpected Joy Of Being Single by Catherine Gray (£9.99, Aster) is available now.

The above story was told to Hannah Britt.

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