Being single is a gift.
It truly is, and being with someone is a gift, too. They’re both blessings in their own unique ways. I started dating in 6th grade, and it was never anything serious, just a series of “boyfriends” that I was too scared to hold hands with.
However, it forced me to build a dependency on another individual. It made me feel like there was something wrong with me when I wasn’t dating someone.
Having a certain amount of emotional dependency on your partner is perfectly okay. The problem begins when you’re unable to be happy alone, and you have a constant need for another person to make you happy.
I felt like that throughout all of my teen years; I needed attention. I wanted boys to call and say I’m pretty, I needed them to talk about me, I craved being the center of their universe.
When I got into my first serious relationship, that was when things started getting extremely toxic. I started to rely on my partner to bring me a sense of fulfillment, and when he wasn’t able to do that, I retaliated with anger.
It wasn’t until I took a dating hiatus that I realized that to have a strong and healthy relationship, I had to work on my relationship with me first.
If you’re someone like me, and you feel like you rely on other people to bring you fulfillment, then you might be in the same boat I was in. It might be time to take a step back from dating others and start dating yourself.
Here are a few signs to look out for.
You want to date just because.
There’s no reason. You just want someone around because you get bored and lonely occasionally. Actually, you really just want some attention. Maybe someone to pay for takeout every now and then.
I’m all for experimenting and having fun, but if you’re in a place in your life where you’re not financially, mentally, nor emotionally stable and you “want someone just because,” it’s not in your best interest to be with anyone.
You need to focus on yourself and get your shit together before adding another human being into your life. Relationships are hard, and unless you and your partner have boundaries and have mutually agreed that it’s strictly casual — dating just for the heck of it can only do more harm than good.
I used to date a lot because it was the cool thing to do; having a boyfriend felt like you’d hit the jackpot. While everyone else was single and lonely, you were “happy.”
Happiness never comes from another individual. It comes from having a healthy relationship with yourself and not relying on others to provide that or anything else for you.
At the end of the day, you’re responsible for giving yourself the life of your dreams. No partner will ever take care of you the way you can take care of yourself.
You have no idea what you want in a partner.
“I want them to look good, throw in a six-pack (abs not beer), okay they should definitely have blue eyes… or green. And they should be like, super nice. Like super duper nice. Oh yeah, and a job so that we could go out and stuff for like drinks.”
Sound familiar? When you think of your ideal partner, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Do you want them to look a certain way? Tell funny jokes? Maybe give you a massage at the end of the night?
Growing up, my ideal guy looked a lot like the description above. I didn’t care whether or not he had goals or ambitions; in fact, I just wanted him to treat me nicely. After that, I figured I’d just wing it.
That couldn’t have been a more terrible mindset because when you don’t know what you want in a partner, you’ll constantly find yourself setting for less than you deserve.
You’ll be going through people like M&M’s because you’ve barely established the relationship you have with yourself, let alone another human being.
You need to take the time to understand what you want out of life and out of a partner. You might be wondering, “well, how can I figure out what I want in a partner if I don’t date everyone?”
You figure it out by figuring yourself out. What do you want out of life? What kind of person do you want to be? What sort of impact do you want to make?
Once you start answering those questions, identifying what you want in another person becomes a lot easier.
You’re unhappy with yourself, and you believe they’ll magically make you happy.
You can’t love another human being if you don’t know how to love yourself.
If you’re unhappy with the kind of person you are, if you struggle with low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, pain, hurt, or anything of that sort — you can’t enter a relationship believing that your partner will make it all magically go away.
According to Everyday Health, partners with low self-esteem were more likely to view their relationship in black-and-white terms: as all good or all bad, which led to some deep issues in communication and perception.
If you enter a relationship and expect your partner to automatically change your life and make you happy, you’re demanding love. You’re taking from them for your own benefit.
There’s a huge difference between desiring love, support, affection, partnership, etc., and wanting it just to fill a hole within yourself.
I used to want to fill a hole within myself. From personal experience, the hole being filled only lasts moments. It’s never permanent when someone else is doing it for you.
You’re unable to communicate.
If you don’t know how to communicate, your relationship will be a struggle.
Psychology Today says, “One of the most detrimental behaviors in a relationship is having angry reactions to feedback instead of being open to it.”
Ask yourself, how do you react when people in your life give you feedback? Are you able to communicate your needs effectively at work? Do you struggle with opening up to people? Are you someone who bottles things up?
If you’re biting your nails and nodding your head, then it’s high time you start learning. I struggled with communication in every single relationship I was in, and they all ended terribly.
I’m not saying you can’t learn how to communicate with your partner once you start dating them, but doing it on your own and before entering any relationship will only benefit you and your life.
I’ve been dating my partner for a little over two years now, and he never had any serious relationships before me. He never took the time to learn how to communicate his needs with anybody in his life — not with his parents, friends, or anybody else.
It really affected me in a negative way; anytime I was trying to talk to him about my needs, I felt like I was talking to a brick. He would shut down and nod as if he understood — but communication isn’t just about listening to someone; it’s about taking what they’re saying and applying it.
You don’t know how to commit.
If you don’t know how to do it, you most likely just don’t want to do it.
Along with that, if you’re scared of exclusivity, or you still think about your previous relationships, or you don’t “see” yourself settling down for a long time — it just means you’re not ready.
It’s okay to not be ready, don’t try to force something that should come naturally. For a healthy relationship, commitment is key, and if you’re not ready or not willing to dedicate yourself to someone else, then don’t do it. You’ll only hurt yourself and the other individual.
One of my closest friends has been raging about how much she wants to have a committed relationship. She’s ready to get married, start a family, etc.
The problem, in her eyes, is that there are no men available. From my point of view, she doesn’t know how to commit. She’s jumping from one flower to the next, praying that if she just swipes right one more time, the one will magically come along.
The one doesn’t come along when you’re desperate and searching; the one comes along when you’re not looking. When you’re ready to commit to one person rather than trying to identify which one out of the 10 people you’re currently dating can offer you the best most.
Remember, being single is a gift. I thrived during my dating hiatus; it allowed me to center myself and realign with my true goals and values.
Just because everybody else is looking for the one doesn’t mean you have to. And, just because everybody else seems ready to get serious doesn’t mean that you are.
Stop giving in to your temporary moments of loneliness; stop believing that another person will fill the void that only you can fill.
Love takes time. A great relationship with the right person is worth waiting for.