Tuesday, September 18, 2012

All the Single Ladies (and Men)

For the last six months, give or take, I've been basically single. Most of this was intentional. I realized that basically since I graduated college, my life has always been intricately tied to someone else, and in the process, I had lost a bit of myself. This is not to say anything negative about my exes - I hold nothing against any of them, hope the best for them, and in fact am on speaking terms or have a friendship with almost all of them. What I realized, though, was that I was so busy working on the rest of my life that I hadn't worked on myself. I thought it was about time to, and took on a "no dating" strategy for a while.

I have a lot of single friends, some who are intentionally so and some who really are looking for a relationship and are frustrated not finding it. While I'll admit I don't want to be single for the rest of my life, I've actually been truly enjoying my time working on me. I also think it is the key to my being in a long term, happy and healthy relationship in the future. Here are a few things I've discovered during the last six months:
  • As cliche as it sounds, no one else can - as I'd mistakenly believed - make you happy. Regardless of how wonderful your other half is, if you aren't happy with yourself, it's going to cause issues for you and the relationship. You get frustrated with the other person for not making you happy, and it makes you feel like there's something wrong with the relationship. In fact, it's something that you have to fix with yourself. 
  • Don't cut off the rest of the world when you're with someone. If I'd done so, I'd be very lonely right now instead of enjoying time with friends and famly. It's healthy for you and your partner to each have things in your life that are your own - friends, hobbies, interests. You should be each other's rock, and a major part of their life, but not their entire world. 
  • If someone doesn't value you for who you are, you're better off being without them. This doesn't mean that everyone should fall at your feet and if not they're a jerk. Some people just aren't compatible. But if someone doesn't see your value and appreciate your for your best points, then it's their loss. Don't worry about someone who's not worrying about you, and move on. 
  • At the same time, don't burn bridges or shut doors. When something hasn't worked for me, it may have been timing, my lack of confidence, something the other person was dealing with. I know couples that have broken up for months or years and wound up making it work in the end. Remember why you cared about each other in the first place. Some of my closest friends are exes. I'm glad I didn't curse them and walk away without looking back. 
  • Enjoy being single! Take a girls day to go shopping and get spa treatments. Have poker nights with the guys. Organize a happy hour, golf trip, day excursion with friends and family. By enjoy being single, I don't mean throw away your morals. I mean take the opportunity to do things you may not have done as much in your relationships. I've learned the value of my friendships more in the last six months than I think I did in the previous 32 years. 
  • Learn to love yourself and your "me" time. Being alone does not have to equate to being lonely. I have discovered that I cherish my time with a good book, writing my blog or journaling, even walking around my neighborhood taking pictures - by myself. In order to value this, though, you have to actually like yourself. If you're always looking for someone else to make it better, you won't find the joy in spending time with you. How can you expect someone else to want to spent time with you if you don't want to spend time with yourself? 
  • Put yourself out there. This doesn't just apply to dating, but life in general. While I like my down time, I don't want to spend every Friday night watching bad TV and eating leftovers on the couch. More times than I can count, I've gone by myself to the bar/restaurant next door, sat at the bar, and talked to the bartenders and other patrons - who incidentally are also often sitting at the bar by themselves. And guess what - I don't feel pathetic (I promise I don't have a habit of drinking by myself on a regular basis)! I've gotten to know everyone that works there and many of the other local "regulars". I've run into people I know and ended up with an impromptu night out. Don't always wait for others. Be the one to initiate things sometimes. 
I know this is a long post. As you can see, I've done a lot of thinking about the unique-to-me situation of being single in the last six months, and more importantly, being happy with it. This all being said, I'm certainly open to meeting someone at this point - I haven't closed that door by any means. I'm just learning to enjoy my life, regardless of my relationship status. 

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