On occasion, I am asked, how is it that I am able to be so laid back about the possibility of being single for the rest of my life. Considering the stigmatization that accompanies those who fall outside the experience of romantic love, I guess I can understand the apprehension. It’s not that I am closed to the option of meeting someone and doing the relationship thing. If the circumstances are right I am quite fine with it. However, with past relationships acting as a benchmark, my current experience with single life, and through a process of self-discovery, self-awareness and self-love I now have a new perspective on love and a foundation for pursuing it.
To give some background, here is a bit of my story.
I was already over thirty with a few relationships under my belt when I met Mr X. I knew the difference between infatuation and love, and considered myself pretty level headed concerning relationships. All protocol for intentional dating was followed, including necessary questions, checks on values and future direction. Based on all that was revealed so far Mr X seemed to be okay.
We had been unofficially dating for a while with no hiccups. The problems started though when conversations concerning making things official came up. This was the beginning of Mr X’s series of explanations on why he couldn’t yet commit.
There were a range of issues covered in his explanations 100 percent of which related to me. It was personality issues, like “you are too introverted, you wait too long contemplating issues before dealing with them” or issues with my lack of effort “I wasn’t expressive sexually”.
My thoughts in times like those were usually “what’s wrong with being introverted” “I’m contemplating issues so I wouldn’t respond emotionally but with an understanding of what was actually bothering me” “I’m not more expressive because we aren’t in a committed relationship”. I did express these thoughts but to him it didn’t matter.
The logical response would have been to say “well since I don’t seem good enough I will be on my way.” However, that wasn’t my response. Instead, I brushed off my own concerns and decided to try to address Mr. X’s.
With the assumption that once I addressed his issues the relationship would be able to move forward and in my willingness to try to communicate, understand, adjust and accept (because that’s what relationships are about to no end right? haha) and to build on what was potentially a great relationship, I began an addictive cycle of addressing issues without having any redress of my own.
As I did, things seemed to progress. This progress along with other good moments in between acted as positive feedback. These were the near winnings that motivated me to continue. However, despite these ‘good times’, if I brought up the issue of commitment again, I would then be presented with all the things about me that still were not quite right.
There was always something that wasn’t good enough and I found myself constantly trying to prove myself and my worth. In one breath I would be validated and in the next that validation would be taken away.
Sometime during this time I found out that Mr. X was seeing other people as well. Considering that we were not yet officially dating, having a discussion on his interactions with other females was always difficult. When I confronted him on it he either made it out to be nothing or behaved as if he considered my feelings and accepted my terms for our continuation (which of course wasn’t the case). Of course as I was getting a clearer picture of how ‘okay’ Mr X seemed to be, and the affect the situation was having on me I attempted to break things off. But as it usually goes, once you are caught up, a clean break is not easy. Between attempted breakups, apologies and temporary changes, that experience lasted just under 5 years.
We all pursue love at different stages in our lives and for different reasons. Depending on these, some of us, as I did, find ourselves vulnerable to situations, behaviours and partners that would have otherwise been considered unsuitable, unhealthy or dysfunctional. Whether it be fears of being single (stigmatization, loneliness, never birthing kids…) and other fears, insecurities or self-esteem issues formed since childhood, until we understand our issues and confront them our decisions in relation to love, life and our relations with others in general, will almost never be in our best interest. My regret concerning that relationship experience isn’t based on the fact that I was mistreated. It is based on the fact that I allowed myself to be mistreated. I became powerless not because I wasn’t smart or knowledgeable enough, but because of my own fears and insecurities. With some distance in between and time spent on my own, time that I now cherish, I have a clearer understanding of myself and what I would like to get out of life and love.
These are some of my thoughts:
Self-discovery, self -awareness and self-love, is a journey that I will forever be on. For those who are single and have never considered it, there is no better time than the present. For those you who are not single (and happen to be reading) and have never been on it, there is no better time than the present. Lastly, don’t be ashamed of your missteps. I’m definitely not. It’s nothing but a stepping stone for your future place of strength!