I’ve been out of the dating game for almost a year now. It appears, from the many sappy, lovey-dovey conversations I’ve had, that I’m out the dating game for good. I don’t like giving relationship advice because I don’t want to appear as if I’m on this soapbox, like I’ve figured the whole “love thing” out…because I haven’t.
But, when I was single, I would dole out (usually unsolicited) relationship advice. My usual advice would sound something like “they’re not good enough for you” or “dump them.” I wouldn’t always be so negative, but I’d constantly see my friends stuck in unfulfilling relationships. I’m a firm believer in not wasting your time in relationships that don’t support you in any way. It’s important to experience negative people in order for you to grow, but they don’t have to be a lesson for that long. I don’t believe in maintaining toxic relationships because there’s history. I’ve learned these things the hard way.
I’ve only been in two relationships my whole life: a tumultuous, two year on-and-off relationship, and the one I’m currently in. When I was in high school, between the ages of 14 and 17, I was consumed by a boy a year older than me. Hindsight is 20/20, but knowing what I know now, he would gaslight me, control my appearance and slowly remove me from groups of friends I had maintained since elementary school.
Some of the most formative years of my life were spent in this back-and-forth relationship where I didn’t know my identity outside of him. Immediately after I finally broke up with him, I promised myself I wouldn’t have another boyfriend for a long, long time.
And I didn’t! A little over four years to be exact. Four years that I’ll cherish because I wouldn’t have been ready for my current boyfriend if I didn’t have them, and if random circumstances hadn’t brought us together, I would’ve continued with my anti-boyfriend mindset.
Don’t get me wrong, I dated, I had flings, I had heartbreaking crushes and moments I thought I should settle down. But I knew that if I caved and let Chad from Phi Delta Apple Pie wife me, I would either be wasting my time or would go on to live a life of complacency. I couldn’t afford either one.
I look back at the high school version of me with sadness, but also a bit of gratitude. I finally found the strength to leave something I knew wasn’t right for me. I was wise enough to know I had a lot of growing to do. I was also self-aware enough to know that if my life wasn’t filled with passion, I would never be happy. So, no boy would be good enough until I felt that way about him.
I’ve met many people, of all genders, that seem to never be comfortable being single. They try to fill voids with other people so they don’t feel alone. I’ve tried to understand why we crave romance so badly, and I’ve realized that we use other people to avoid spending time with ourselves—being alone and exploring the good, bad, the light and the darkness. We’re single for a period of time and begin to wonder what’s wrong with us and what we’re lacking. Then we latch on to others because the momentary affection and attention we receive make us forget our negatives.
This is what causes people to be in these complacent relationships where every step begins with “might as well.” Like, “might as well move in together,” “we’ve been together this long, might as well get married,” “might as well have a kid” and so on, not because it’s something you’re passionate about or excited to happen, but because you feel obligated to move on to the next step. I’ve never wanted that. No one should ever want that.
So, take the time to be single. Take your slow a** time to dig deep and find out who you are, especially when you’re young. We will never stop growing, changing and reflecting as our lives continue. But you can be ready for those changes if you take that alone time to figure out who you are and what you want—without having to worry about figuring someone else out along the way.
Once you face your weaknesses, thrive in your strengths and explore yourself. You’ll be confident in who belongs in your life and who doesn’t. You’ll start to surround yourself by people who inspire you. You’ll let the right kind of love in.
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