3 Things I Learned About Myself After Being Single For So Long

by Tieara

I used to have this crazy theory that everyone should be single until age 25.

Maybe it was because I had a horrible breakup with a guy who was three years my senior, or the fact that as a hopeless romantic I had given up on my fairytale ending.

Some could argue that I had relationship PTSD. They could also say that I took that time to work on me. Either way, I was consistently single from age 21 to 25. No, I wasn't living under a rock—men would try to date me and sometimes I would entertain the idea. But most of the time, I just didn't want to be bothered. The four years I spent single, I chose to be, or so I thought.

I was afraid of being hurt, afraid of being vulnerable and afraid to being heartbroken again. It took a long time to heal.

After being single for so long, casually dating for a year, having a relationship for a year and now emerging single once more, I learned 3 things about myself.

1. While I was single, I was subconsciously neglecting myself.

When you are single there is the notion that you are taking care of yourself, but I wasn't. At least not like I should have been. I was convinced that I was meant to be alone, fully embraced it and thought I had to be comfortable in my misery.

I'm happy to say that I was wrong for thinking this, and this came as a shock to me. Recently I learned that I wasn't actually doing the work I needed to do on the inside. After my most recent relationship, I realized I still had tons of unresolved insecurities from my past.

Everything began to come to light. I was okay and comfortable when it came to being alone and having my own insecurities, but when you begin a new relationship after a four-year hiatus it won't be smooth sailing. Use your time alone wisely. Focus on what truly makes you happy and go from there.

2. The full respect you give yourself is what you should expect from your partner.

Self-love is essential and it all starts with you. I don't mean the superficial self-love acts we do like getting our hair and nails done. I'm talking about the internal work it takes to truly be honest with yourself and love exactly who you are, flaws and all. You have to accept yourself first, as you are, and love everything that comes with that.

Once you love who you really are, you won't expect anything less from anyone. If you are too busy degrading yourself, or critiquing who you are, you're indirectly teaching others to treat you in that same ugly way. So respect yourself, and love who you are. If you notice you have some qualities you'd like to change, take the time to improve yourself first.

3. Being single doesn't define you.

Enjoy being single! You have so much time to reflect and develop who you are as a person while you're waiting for the one you're looking for.

When you spend enough time with yourself to learn your likes and dislikes, you'll be able to navigate through the dating pool with ease.

Do not compromise your standards or your values when looking for a new relationship or think you need to change whoever you are to better fit a person.

Relationships are experiences, but the most important relationship you'll ever have is with yourself. When you're ready, put the same time and energy you put into yourself into others and you might be surprised with the quality of people you begin to attract.

Being single should be fun. You're not anchored by the weight of someone else and his or her issues. When your only worries are your own, you can explore the world for what is it through your own self-discovery.

Cherish your independence and learn that you will always come first, regardless of who is or isn't in your life.