It is wedding season, yet again. The invitations are rolling in and you're without a plus-one.
If you are single, you may struggle going to social events alone (especially weddings!). Common feelings range from loneliness to embarrassment to anger that you have to go to yet another couples-focused event on your own. For most of us want a romantic partner in our lives. Maybe you have never been married but would like to be. Maybe you desperately want children but don't want to have them without a partner. Maybe you have recently gone through a painful breakup and don't see how you are ever going to date again. Or maybe you are getting older and losing hope that you will be the person walking down the aisle someday.
In addition, being in a relationship labels us socially: We look desired if we are partnered and unwanted if we are single. Especially for women. That can lead to very unhealthy thoughts about our current value and future prospects.
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If you are one of the millions of people who are single and struggling to go to social events alone, here are a few things to keep in mind this wedding season:
1) You don’t have to go to a friend’s wedding. You can always communicate how much you care about the person getting married privately.
2) If you decide to go, challenge any unhelpful thoughts about yourself. Many of us are highly critical of ourselves. If you have any thoughts that are negative—things like, “I am always going to be alone and will never find someone” to “I am such a loser”—pause. Stop yourself dead in your tracks and re-frame your thoughts to be more positive and helpful to your happiness.
3) Plan ahead for moments that might be emotionally triggering. Do you tend to drink too much at events like this when you run into an ex-friend or ex-lover at the reception? Eat too much? Think about the situations that will be most challenging before you get to the event itself and have a plan in place.
4) Focus on yourself. The more comfortable you are with yourself alone, the better you will be in a relationship. This is an opportunity for you to become more confident as an independent, single person. All the while presenting yourself as a vibrant, well-adjusted, interesting person to anyone who might be looking at you!
The naked truth is this: Wedding season is upon us. As a single person without a plus-one, going to social events like weddings can be challenging. As you make deliberate choices about wedding attendance, you will benefit by preparing for emotionally triggering moments and focusing on yourself. Make a plan to shine brightly instead of feeling the lack of your plus-one.
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Cortney Warren is a featured expert on EXaholics.com.
This article originally posted to Psychology Today online.