In a society, charged by social media, full of #relationshipgoals, it is easy to feel like you’re missing the mark if you are single. For three years, I’ve gone new year’s days without midnight kisses, valentine’s days without heart-shaped chocolates, birthdays without birthday sex, summers without baecations, winters without cuddle buddies, and christmases without mistletoe. And, guess what? I’ve survived.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve definitely dated in those last 1,095 days, plus a day for the leap year. However, to state the obvious, none of those worked out for various reasons. The common denominator is me. In all of those failed relationships, I have been the one constant in all. So, the next obvious question is why am I single? After years and years of research, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that I really love my "me" time. In my life, alone time is hard to come by. I’ll break it down for you. At age 11, my parents divorced and as the eldest, I had to step up. Then at age 18, when most of us are just gaining independence from our families by escaping to college, I had a brand new baby and a boyfriend to look after. Since I was an adolescent, I have never been alone. All my time and energy have always been shared with someone. At 23, when I finally became single, I gained a freedom that I had not been privy to before. I discovered that when it came to my relationship status, I had every ounce of control over how I spent my time, even if it was time spent with myself. For the last 1,096 days, I have clung to that freedom with such a tight grip that any man who hasn’t been prepared in the art of war would not be ready to handle.
Ten months ago, I thought that I was ready for my next relationship. I spent all of 2015 not dating. It was a Saharan desert in my love life--purposefully though. I needed the time to detoxify from past dysfunctional relationships. I am a strong believer in packing lightly when it comes to emotional baggage. I’m talking carry-on light. Well here I am, now, thinking I was ready. Who was I kidding? The guy I was dating matched all of my dating criteria: mature, God-fearing, family-oriented, ambitious and the list goes on. We had great conversation and enjoyed the same interests. Without counting my chickens before they hatched, I figured God handcrafted this one himself. Well, he did. But, not for the same reasons I thought.
The cold, brittle month of February brought more than snow, freezing temperatures, and Valentine’s Day. Trouble in paradise rolled right in on February 14th with heart-shaped balloons, roses, and chocolate. We had been dating for about four months and everything was going great. As can be expected, the discussion about how to spend Valentine’s Day came up. Dinner and a gift exchange seemed appropriate. I was cool with it, until I wasn’t. Two days before Valentine’s Day, I decided that I wanted a low-key Valentine’s Day; i.e stay in the house and chill. Also, I didn’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I suggested we just “hang-out” the night before. He agreed and that was that. What I hadn’t realized is that this wasn’t about being low-key. This was my first attempt at sabotage. We spent the day before Valentine’s Day at his place watching television--just how I wanted. The next day, I was home making Valentine’s Day brunch for my sister and her boyfriend. He called and somehow, I ended up inviting him over for breakfast. The moment he walked through the door, my mood changed. At the time, I couldn’t understand why. I’m a woman and a Gemini. I’m used to mood changes; this was different. I was uncomfortable and when that happens I get anxious or angry. I did everything to get him out of there as fast as I could. I needed to be comfortable again. I needed to be alone again.
When he left, I said to my sister, “It’s too much!”
“But, you invited him over here,” she reminded me.
I panicked,“I know, but it’s too much!”
He and I spent the rest of February like this. I would do things, even though I really didn’t want to. I felt like I was compromising too much of my alone time. By March, I started to have small anxiety attacks every time he called to spend time with me. Once a week was enough for me. Sometimes, I would just be watching a movie by myself at home and his name would appear on my phone, then the anxiety attack would start. I just wanted to watch T.V. by myself. I just wanted to read by myself. I just want to sit and be quiet by myself. Finally, I decided that this wasn’t healthy for me or fair to him. I ended things. It was one of the hardest things for me to do because I couldn’t just end things. I had to, also, admit to myself that I wasn’t ready for a relationship. I wasn’t ready to give up my alone time.
When you are single, it is very easy to want to aspire for these relationship goals that we see perpetuated through thousands of images on social media. However, why isn’t a healthy relationship with yourself a goal ? On average, how much time are you really spending with yourself? I don’t mean staying home on a Friday night because you don’t have plans. Are you intentionally setting up time to spend with yourself? Sometimes, relationship goals can make you think that you should want a relationship. There are times when I feel very selfish because I know that I’m not ready to give up my free time to anyone, yet. At 26, it is very easy to fall in the trap that “I should want to be in a relationship more than I want to be with myself.” It’s just not true. You should have so much fun with yourself that others want to get in on the action. However, first, you have to learn yourself.
Three years ago, I was a far cry different from who I am now. I loved differently. I loved dependently, rather than independently. A few years ago, I loved people based off of what they did for me. Now that I have learned to love myself, I love others more unconditionally. Loving myself has given me more love to give others. It has made me a better lover.
Your single season is a gift, just like a relationship is a gift. You have to be your first love because there is no soul in the universe that spends more time with you than YOU.Relationship goals will change when you find out how awesome you are. How can you possibly market yourself to the world if you haven’t spent enough time with yourself to figure out your best qualities? I’ll be the first to admit that I am still growing. I am sure I didn’t and don’t handle dating the best. However, love isn’t about doing things the best, or for likes, or hash tags. Love is about sharing YOU with yourself first, then the world second; in spite of and because of imperfections. Here’s what I have ultimately learned in my single season that I know I would’ve never learned in a relationship. The greatest blessing we have is our God-given right to love not based on anything, except for the fact that we have the capability to do it. Love isn’t about sharing your relationship status on Facebook. It’s about sharing you how you see fit.