Molly Ford, the founder of Smart, Pretty, and Awkward is now sharing her advice with The Daily Muse! Tune in every other Wednesday for her advice on "how to be smarter," "how to be prettier," and "how to be less awkward."

Hey Molly,

I never thought I'd be crazy enough to email someone I don't even know for advice, but I'm desperate at this point. I'm 23 and seriously depressed over the fact that I don't have a headed-for-marriage boyfriend. It feels like everyone else does. I'm lonely and my biggest fear is being alone forever. I want to be in a relationship and be loved and have something stable and it's not happening. 

Thanks, 

H

Dear H,

You are not alone in being worried about not being in a relationship. I think many other women who are not in a "headed-for-marriage relationship" have a fear of being "alone forever" that has crossed their mind at least once.

It can feel isolating and lonely when it seems like both friends and exes are getting into great relationships, and you’re not. But remember that comparing yourself and what you have or don’t have to others is never a recipe for happiness. Ever. (For that matter, marriage isn’t always a recipe for happiness, either!)

Another important thing to remember is that there is no time frame for a great relationship. I’ve written about this on my blog before, and this tip has resonated with many of my readers in similar situations:

How to be Smarter: Loving, meaningful romantic relationships are not a limited-edition item. If it feels like all your friends are getting into these great relationships and you are being left behind, remind yourself that there is not just one good relationship out there and whoever finds it first is the only one that gets it. There’s no deadline on finding someone wonderful.

Comparing yourself to others and being overly worried about not being in a relationship will only hold you back from a more important relationship: the one you have with yourself. Redirect your brainpower to work on something other than how fast or how slow you are meeting someone awesome, and you’ll likely find yourself worrying a little less about it in general.

Why not take this time to live the life you want to be living, outside of a relationship? Think about these questions and actually answer them: What hobbies do you like or want to develop? How is your job or school going? Do you want to work towards an advanced degree? Would you like to run a marathon? Start a blog? Volunteer at a human rights organization or an animal shelter?

A Love/Don't Love list can also help you live your best life: Take a piece of paper, and fold it in half down the middle. On the top of one side put “Love,” and at the top of the other column put “Don’t Love.” Write down all the things you are thrilled with about your life in the first column, and on the other side, write down all the things that are less than ideal. Then, draw a line horizontally across the page. At the bottom of each column, brainstorm ways to incorporate more of the things you love into your day-to-day, and ways to fix or cut out the things you don’t love.

Finally, I'd like to point out that you are already incredibly loved and you are not alone. Romantic love is different than love from family and friends, but you are not alone and you are not unloved. If you do feel alone, try this birthday analogy: Imagine everyone you love and who believes in you (including parents, best friends, favorite professors, co-workers—everyone) is in the same room, singing to you over a plate of cake. Just imagining everyone who supports you together in one room is an instant mood booster.

xoxo, Molly

Photo of bridesmaid courtesy of Shutterstock.