real life

An open letter to anyone terrified of being single.


In this popular post from 2013, Rosie Waterland reflects on why being single isn’t so frightening after all.

My last boyfriend left me three years ago, and I have only just got over the break-up.

Not the guy – I got over that idiot a long time ago.

When I say I’ve only just got over the break-up, I mean I’ve finally stopped fighting the urge to not be alone. I’ve finally realised that being alone isn’t the terrifying scenario I always thought it was. It only took me 27 years, but I’ve finally realised that I am enough for me.

I finally realised that I don’t need anyone to save me because I can save myself.

But until I had to actually be my own Wonder Woman, I never for a second thought that I could be. I always just assumed that I would need a man to save me from lonliness and make me happy.

I assumed wrong. In the last three years, I figured out how to be okay on my own, and I ended up a kicking life’s arse because of it. Here’s what happened:

My last relationship was a total disaster from beginning to end. I remember telling Nick when we first got together that I shouldn’t be dating anyone, because I had a lot of trauma from my childhood that I needed to learn how to deal with. I self-harmed. I had the beginnings of an eating disorder. I had attempted suicide on more than one occasion. I obviously needed to sort myself out.

But he insisted. Within a couple of weeks of seeing each other he was saying that he loved me and I was the girl of his dreams and he knew that I was the girl he would marry and have babies with and blah blah blah.


Moving that fast would probably be a major warning sign for most people, but I had never had a proper family or a stable home, and hearing that someone wanted to build that with me was kind of intoxicating. He made me forget how crappy I had been feeling. He made me forget a lot of things that I needed to work on.

I had found a lonliness band-aid.

“I forgot that band-aids are only temporary.”

Obviously, it was doomed from the start. Anyone who says they love you after two weeks doesn’t actually love you, but I was so deliriously happy that I let myself believe it.

I forgot that band-aids are only temporary.

So when the infatuation died down and Nick began to realise that I wasn’t actually the girl he loved, I lost it. When the band-aid started coming off, I went into battle mode. I was not going to be left alone again.

As I felt him pulling away, all the problems I should’ve spent time learning how to deal with on my own came flooding back. The self-harming became constant. The eating disorder became an unstoppable force. I had daily panic attacks. And when he finally left me for someone else, I had a complete nervous breakdown, tried to kill myself and ended up in a mental hospital.

Clearly, the band-aid hadn’t worked.

And it’s taken me three years to realise that if I had just let myself be alone to begin with, I wouldn’t have been so afraid of it. I wouldn’t have been so desperate for Nick to save me from it. I wouldn’t have thought that being alone was the worst thing that could ever happen to me.

I would’ve known that it could actually be the best.

Because being alone has forced me to be my own hero. Being alone has forced me to deal with my panic attacks. Being alone has forced me to deal with my eating disorder and my self-harm. Being alone has forced me to realise that I can deal with anything, without needing a man to fly in and save the day.


To my total shock, I kind of flew in and saved myself.

It hasn’t been easy. But I’ve learned more about myself in the last three years than I have in my entire life.

Most significantly though, I’ve learned that a partner should complement you, rather than complete you. You need to be whole before you let someone else in, and the only way to become whole is to spend time on your own figuring out who you are.

“I understand that it’s terrifying.”

I understand that it’s terrifying. The idea of just me, alone with my thoughts without any distractions has been my worst nightmare for most of my adult life. So trust me, I get it.

But all I can say is this: As someone who knows what it feels like to be petrified of being single, I can guarantee you that it’s actually not that bad. It’s difficult at first, but if you stick it out, you’ll realise that being on your own can actually be life-changing. Taking the time to let yourself feel whatever you need to feel will prove to you that it’s not that scary – even when the feelings are bad. You are stronger than you think you are, and you will surprise yourself.

You will learn amazing things about yourself that you never knew. You will learn that being alone doesn’t always mean being lonely. You will learn that running from bad feelings is actually harder than facing them.

You will learn that you deserve better than to settle for the first person that fills the void.

You will learn that you will be okay.

Just you. Alone.