Today, we’re diving into John Kim’s transformative book, “Single On Purpose.” If you’ve ever struggled with the concept of being single, or even if you’re in a relationship but feeling a bit lost, this book is a must-read. In this post, I’ve provided a general summary to give you a feel for the core messages and insights. But we’re going beyond just a summary! I’ve also compiled some thought-provoking book club questions designed to spark meaningful conversations. And because you know I love a good quote, I’ve sprinkled in some standout lines from the book that really hit home for me.
If self-improvement is your jam, don’t forget to check out the self-help books section of the blog for similar reads that I’ve personally vetted and found valuable. Let’s get into it!
Single on Purpose Summary
“Single On Purpose” by John Kim, popularly known as “The Angry Therapist,” is a candid take on what it means to truly prioritize oneself, especially in the realms of relationships and personal well-being. Kim starts the narrative with an autobiographical lens, chronicling his emotional journey post-divorce—a journey that led him to the profound realization that he had never genuinely been comfortable with his own company. Rather than seeing this as a mere pitfall, Kim acknowledges it as an eye-opening experience that pushed him to reconstruct his relationship with himself, essentially morphing from someone who was alone and estranged to someone who was alone but satisfied.
His book goes far beyond the usual self-help jargon. It’s imbued with the no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point approach he’s become renowned for—what he calls “self-help in a shot glass.” Kim delves deep into the societal stigma that equates singleness with loneliness, challenging the reader to question why it often feels like life stops when we’re not romantically attached to someone. This goes hand in hand with another provocative question he raises: Why do people, more often than not, cease to develop themselves once they’re in a relationship?
Kim argues passionately that the journey to self-betterment shouldn’t be reserved solely for moments of crisis or loss; it’s an ongoing process. His philosophy isn’t just armchair psychology; it’s grounded in his experiences helping thousands of clients break free from the shackles of societal norms and expectations. He urges readers to “own their shit,” to recognize and break their destructive patterns, and to establish a grounded sense of self. The point, as he sees it, is not to vilify relationships but to champion the importance of a stable relationship with oneself as a precursor to any meaningful connection with others.
In essence, “Single On Purpose” is a clarion call for intentional solitude. It promotes the idea that taking the time to genuinely invest in yourself should not be a desperate act undertaken when all else fails, but rather an integral part of living a fulfilling life. The book underlines the importance of what Kim believes is a universal necessity: At some juncture, everyone needs to be single—by design, and with a specific, self-bettering agenda in mind.
Single on Purpose Book Club Questions
Drawing from my experience in the educational field, discussion questions are great for probing critical thinking. So, let’s get into it:
- How did your perspective on being single change after reading this book?
- The author, John Kim, speaks about his personal journey of self-discovery. Did any aspects of his story resonate with you? Why or why not?
- “Own your shit,” is one of Kim’s key messages. What are some examples in your life where owning your flaws or mistakes led to personal growth?
- Do you agree with the author’s idea that everyone should be single—at least mentally—at some point? Why or why not?
- How does Kim address the societal pressure to be in a relationship? Do you feel this pressure, and if so, how do you handle it?
- The book discusses breaking patterns to find a grounded sense of self. What patterns have you identified in your own relationships, and how have they affected you?
- Kim’s “self-help in a shot glass” approach is very direct. Did you find this style effective, or did you wish for more depth in certain areas?
- Do you believe spending time to cultivate your relationship with yourself should only happen at low points in your life, like after a major loss or during a quarter-life crisis? How does the book challenge or support this belief?
- The book talks about finding your “unique way” to live your truth. What steps are you taking to live your own truth?
- Finally, if you could ask the author one question, what would it be?
Single on Purpose Quotes
Here are some popular Single on Purpose quotes shared by readers on Goodreads:
“Doing things for the outcome rather than for the joy of the process disconnects you from yourself. You start chasing. You get desperate. You forget your “why.” But most importantly, you don’t allow yourself to be happy until you get what you want. And if that never comes, you never practice being happy.” ― John Kim, Single On Purpose: Redefine Everything. Find Yourself First.
“The same thoughts produce the same feelings, which produce the same behavior, which leads to the same experiences. And I’ll take this one step further. Having the same experiences cements the same false beliefs. Basically, we live in a loop—a pattern that keeps us stuck and disconnected, not only from ourselves but also from the world.” ― John Kim, Single On Purpose: Redefine Everything. Find Yourself First.
“Because when inner change happens, it naturally ripples outward.” ― John Kim, Single On Purpose: Redefine Everything. Find Yourself First.
“Can you give someone else your undivided attention? Do that for yourself.” ― John Kim, Single On Purpose: Redefine Everything. Find Yourself First.
He defined love based on how much sex they had. If they weren’t having sex, he felt unloved and rejected. If they were having a lot of sex, he felt loved and desired. But Maddie didn’t enjoy sex. She usually just did it for him. This made him feel tricked, because she had presented herself as a “highly sexual person” when they first met, but after a year he realized she wasn’t.” ― John Kim, Single On Purpose: Redefine Everything. Find Yourself First.
“Dave has always equated love with sex. That idea had started early on with pornographic images which wired him a certain way. It was reinforced by guy talk in locker rooms, he played sports in high school and college, and through relationships with women who also defined love as sex. It was all he knew, but as it turned out, most of those women had been sexually abused in ways that disconnected them from their bodies and wired them to be highly sexual. It came out that Maddie was also sexually abused, which Dave didn’t know, but she had gone the other way in reaction to that trauma. She didn’t enjoy sex. Sex was a device, something she used to attract men, not something that brought her pleasure.”
― John Kim, Single On Purpose: Redefine Everything. Find Yourself First.
Wrapping up, “Single On Purpose” by John Kim is more than just a guide for surviving singlehood; it’s a manifesto for intentional living. Using his own journey as a roadmap, Kim offers invaluable insights that challenge our societal norms around relationships and self-worth. Whether you’re navigating the waters of a recent breakup, pondering the complexities of dating, or simply wanting to cultivate a more meaningful relationship with yourself—this book is your companion.