I’m 25 years old and I’ve never had a boyfriend. I’ve kissed guys, slept with guys and been on dates that range from coffee to rock-climbing with guys, but I’ve never been in a relationship.
Years of being single and wanting a commitment can easily sum up to bitterness. Because I wanted a relationship so badly, I've hated my single status for quite some time. Then, I learned to appreciate it.
I never stopped wanting a boyfriend, but I now consider myself lucky I haven’t had one yet -- here’s why:
1. I’ve learned valuable lessons secondhand
As my boyfriendless teens gave way to boyfriendless 20s, I wondered how my lack of exes would disadvantage me in an age bracket, where the vast majority of people have relationship experience. Fortunately, you don’t need relationships of your own to learn from them.
Taken friends are relationship encyclopedias. I’ve observed a variety of relationship dynamics, listened to countless relationship problems and heard heart-melting relationship stories.
I’ve mentally compiled all of it to formulate the kind of relationship I want and learned how to execute it.
2. High school sweethearts aren’t sweet
I used to automatically “aww” when people told me they had been dating since high school. Now, I’m not so easily impressed.
Have you paid attention to high school sweethearts? Some bicker. Some toss backhanded compliments.
Some explicitly verbalize resentment. They often seem like they gave up the chance to meet other people because of their relationships, and now, they’re bitter about it.
They make me grateful I’ve had the opportunity to date. Of course, cute high school sweethearts do exist, but they aren’t cute because they’ve been together since high school.
They’re admirable because they value their relationships enough to feel as though they didn't miss out on anything.
3. I’m awesome at talking to strangers
Most of my friends, whether single or taken, are very social. However, I’ve known couples with such a strong senses of attachment to one another that they don’t socialize outside of their already-established circles, making it difficult for them to network and forge new friendships.
This also makes dating challenging come breakup time. Being perpetually single has forced me to throw myself into novel and sometimes awkward situations to branch out.
As a result, you could situate me in the middle of a party where I know no one, and I’ll emerge with friends. It’s social survival of the fittest.
Longtime singles are used to navigating new situations without a partner, so they adapt to unfamiliar conditions with ease.
4. I’ve developed solid standards
Being single typically leads to dating. The longer you’re single, the more opportunity you have to date, and the better you get at knowing what you want.
All people are different and their contrasts can help you determine what you do and do not want in a future relationship.
Most guys and I are not romantically compatible. Not only is that okay, but it’s also normal. I’m not supposed to fall for every guy I meet, and I’m willing to hold out for the passionate connection I expect from a relationship.
I’d much rather be happily single than unhappily committed. The wonderful thing about being single for as long as I have is the awareness that comes with it: Singleness is not loneliness, and being in a relationship just to be in one is not happiness.
5. I’ve grown up to be very independent
Autonomy is, without question, the best byproduct of being a long-term single. By autonomy, I do not mean freedom. You do not need to be single to have the freedom to be who you are and do what you do. That’s a basic human right.
Rather, I am referring to your independence and your ability to thrive on your own. Not everyone has it. Not everyone knows how to support him or herself, how to fuel personal social lives or how to go on solo dates.
Not every person understands that he or she – whether single or in a relationship – is solely responsible for his or her own quality of life, which includes financial stability, friendships and happiness.
The understanding that your happiness depends on you alone is not something you need to be single to grasp, but your single status is a beautiful opportunity to prove it to yourself. Embrace it.