I know people who are what I call, “serial daters.” Serial daters are those who are constantly in relationships. When one relationship ends, another begins shortly thereafter. They’re not single for any more than a couple of months, and even a couple of months are pure anxiety for them. Some of them even have a Plan B– and by Plan B, I mean another person– standing by in case their current relationship doesn’t work out. They are never alone. They always have someone. For a large part of my teenage and early adult life, I thought being a serial dater was the norm. I thought I was abnormal and inadequate because I wasn’t a serial dater, I didn’t have a Plan B, and I always had long periods of time between relationships. Because everyone was dating everyone, I thought I should be dating someone. I associated my happiness and self-esteem with having a boyfriend. So for most of my early adult life, I concentrated on finding Mr. Right.
Did searching for Mr. Right make me happy? No. Actually, it made me even more insecure than I’ve ever been. It was hard to meet the right guys. I’d go to clubs, and I’d meet were guys looking for one night of fun. I’d see some handsome guys on the street and discover they were all ready accounted for. Guys I hung around with just saw me as “one of the guys.” To tell you the truth, that was my personality; I liked being friends with guys. Because of that, I was never the girl they wanted to date. When I thought I met Mr. Right, they were either commitment phobic, or just “weren’t into me.” The search for Mr. Right really frustrated me, and I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me.
Then I became a single mother. At first, I thought, “Great. Who’s going to want me now? Who wants to date a single mother?” I wasn’t much of a dater before; how was I expected to play the fields now? For a year, I worked on finding Mr. Right. Match.com. E-Harmony. Yahoo! Personals. And yet, even with internet dating services, I still did not have a quality relationship! So much of my thoughts were consumed by this frustration that I forgot what was really important. My son. One day, I looked at him and saw the way his eyes lit up when he saw me. Right then I realized I was concentrating on the wrong thing. Why was I so obsessed with finding someone for myself when I did have someone who loved me? My baby loved and needed me. Relationships with guys would end until I find Mr. Right. Yet my relationship with my son was forever, and that was the relationship I should work on and cherish. If I continued to concentrate on getting a man, my relationship with the person that mattered to me the most would suffer. From that day forward, I decided to put Mr. Right on the backburner because my son was the most important person in my life.
I’ve been single for more than three years, and for the first time in my life, I can say with conviction: “It is okay to be alone.” It wasn’t an easy journey. Much of the first year was spent trying to correct old and bad ways of thinking. My thinking needed a makeover. I had to work on my self-esteem and know that my self-worth was not reliant on a man. I actually had to learn to love myself, as cliché as it may sound. I never really thought much of myself in the first place. How would I be able to love someone else when I couldn’t even look in the mirror and be happy with me? By being alone, I could work on myself. I had all the potential in the palm of my hands. I could be anything I wanted to be; I could define who I was.
I discovered that being single comes with its share of perks. Yet people don’t realize it because they concentrate too much on the “alone” part of it. To help those “alone” phobic people, here are some perks that come with being single.
You make your own life decisions. When you’re single, you make your own decisions. Sure, when you are in a relationship, you make your own choices as well. Yet when you’re single, you don’t have any outside influence on your decision making. How many people in a relationship can say that their significant other did not have an impact on the decisions they make? Not much. How many times have we heard the story about the girl who had an opportunity to move because of a better paying job, or to travel but decided to stay because of a guy? Or the girl who moved somewhere else to be with a guy? Sorry to sound discouraging, but how much of those relationships ever lasted? Unfortunately, not many. When you’re single, you have a world of possibilities. You are the deciding factor.
You form your own self identity. Often, when you’re in a relationship, you become so consumed with the other person that you begin to identify yourself with that person. His or her interests become your interests or vice versa. You spend so much time together that you and your significant other become almost one person. Soon, you’re no longer yourself. You’re “So-and-so’s girlfriend/boyfriend.” Although it’s nice to be someone’s other half, it’s just as nice to be your own self. When you’re single, you’re given the chance to form your own identity. You can discover on your own what you like and don’t like and what your strengths and weaknesses are. The advantage of having a good sense of self is that if or when relationships with people end, you’ll still know who you are. You won’t have completely lost yourself because you haven’t completely identified yourself with the other person.
You will love yourself. Love yourself. It’s such a cliché, but it’s just so true. The fact is that loving yourself is so uncommon. Often, people equate being in a relationship with self worth. The truth of the matter is that we have to love ourselves before we can enter into a loving relationship with others. How can we make relationships work if we don’t feel worthy of them? If we constantly doubt our self-worth, the people we have relationships with will start to doubt the relationship. Low self-esteem often leads to suspicion, jealousy, distrust, and apprehension. Who wants to be in a relationship with a person who can’t trust the other because of low self-esteem issues? “Like” attracts “like.” If you are confident in yourself, if you love yourself, good things tend to come your way. If you are full of negativity, chances are you’ll miss out on many good opportunities because you may not be open to them when you’re negative.
You will appreciate relationships when you have them. Being single prepares you for being in a relationship. It strengthens your character and your will because you’ll learn your life lessons on your own. However, it also helps you appreciate companionship and friendship. You’ll definitely cherish relationships a lot more because you’ll know that quality relationships are few and far between. You won’t take your significant other for granted, and you certainly won’t settle for mediocre.
There are times when I slip back into what I call “the funk,” and I mope around, wishing that Mr. Right would fall into my lap. However, I don’t dwell on it. I mope for a couple hours, and then I get over it because I know it’s okay to be alone. Don’t get me wrong; I still want my Mr. Right. I know I’ll meet him one day. Yet that’s not my life purpose. My life purpose is to provide the best quality of life for my son and myself. Find yourself. Love yourself. And remember, it is okay to be alone.