The constant tug-of-war between sharing the pleasantry of having a romantic partner and focusing on developing your own identity is a game I would have much preferred to be informed of during middle school gym class. It would have benefited me so much more then.
But, what's even more important than your relationships is your relationship to your relationships.
How do you know when to give more, when to pull back and trust, when to let something go or when to give yourself alone time to figure out what you truly want?
Don’t expect to have these questions figured out because you’re not alone. Nobody really knows. And if you do, you’re either superhuman or you’ve been through had some unique life experience that put everything in some real perspective. Either way, hats off to you.
But for the rest of us, we have a whole mess of things to figure out. Three cheers for perpetual uncertainty!
Now, I don’t really remember what it’s like to be in the midst of a loving relationship; it’s just been too long; I'm talking about the kind of relationship where you’re able to communicate with another person so candidly with no words, and just a mutual understanding.
Disney would describe it as “magical.” I would describe it as a lingering adoration to share yourself with another form of you.
I think love is something that is created between two people when both people decide to embrace each other. That decision, though, is where things get complicated.
Deciding to love someone involves accepting all of the dissonance that this new union may create or foster. It takes time, experience and trust to solidify this process.
When you’re single, you just have to share the world with yourself, and this can get dangerous.
If you don’t look after the way you process emotions that relate to you being single, you can push yourself down an avalanche of self-doubt.
But, don’t worry; I’m a writer and I’ll use words to make it all make sense. Maybe.
Sometimes, the knowledge of having to check in with another person can be a burden. God forbid you go underwater for 20 minutes because when you resurface, you have a mound of frantic text messages.
Plus, you’re going to need to experience life as an individual to function better as a pair. If you spent your first 15 years living feral within a community of bonobos, you'll only know how to behave around bonobos.
Stop being a feral human and explore the wonder of solitude. Being single can be fun for you, but only if you decide to allow it to be.
Don’t ever underestimate the quality of proper alone time. Instead of wallowing in your own pity party, go out and see something new, read a different kind of book or explore what your mind has to offer. As the modern philosopher, Drake, once said, “do you.”
When You’re Single For Too Long
You haven’t been in a relationship for upwards of two years now. You initially thought you would learn so much about yourself.
You spent all of your time enjoying it, but that started to fade a while ago. It went from a mantra to something you tell yourself to maintain sanity. You’re done with being alone. You forgot what it was like to not be alone and you've started romanticizing your memories of past partners (yeah, don’t do that).
There have been studies that suggest that when you conjure up a memory, you rewrite that memory based on how you currently think of it.
When you think about the past, your distance in time from that experience allows you to look at it and believe those were better, simpler times. But, you could apply this phenomenon to anything.
People often do that with relationships. You can either gain a new perspective of why things didn’t work out, or deeply miss the beautiful emotions that you felt when your relationship was at its greatest.
That’s dangerous stuff right there. Although nostalgia can be a fond lover, it can be a fleeting mistress, too. Recreating only positive memories will romanticize your expectations of your next relationship outside the context of plausibility.
To feel the hurt of being single for too long is to expect a greater love to balance it out when it comes.
This explains the phenomenon of someone being too clingy or too closed off, which brings me to my next point: Everybody is in different places mentally.
Everyone expects different things from partners. The healthiest expectation to have of another person is no expectation.
You take these people for whom they are, what they have to offer, what you have to offer them and then you decide if this is a relationship you’d want to experience.
The unhealthy alternative is to take the first newcomer and force the mold of the relationship you need from him or her, rather than what you both mutually want.
You’re human, so you’ll probably turn the blame inward. Maybe you’ll blame the world for doing you wrong. Maybe you’ll blame your last partner or lack thereof for damaging you beyond repair.
It’s fine to feel those things, but extending the blame will only contribute to the negativity you feel until it eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The world won't bend around you because you’re upset. A lot of being a person has to do with adapting to your environment and making the most you can out of it.
Wouldn’t it be great if seeing someone complain about being alone was the sexiest thing ever? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that, and there's a reason why.
I said before that love is something two people can create together. Both of those people have their own unique desires that pertain to all aspects of their lives. You have to know that you are not the only person who worries in the duo.
If you’re seeing a new person who breaks up with you, it can feel like that person deliberately did so. But, that’s usually not the case. Usually, it’s a decision that the person is making for his or her own welfare, which is totally fine.
Everyone has his or her own agenda and needs. You can’t expect a person to adapt to yours just because you’re you.
Plus, you can’t expect to create love with another person if you’re not in a place to be creating love or sharing your honest self. You can try — and hell, let me know if you can figure it out — but more often than not, feeling bad about staying single for too long will not mesh well with the expectations of immediately bouncing back into the right person’s arms.
Should I give advice now? Is that what I do? You tell me. I’m just a person figuring this sh*t out for myself, so my guess is as good as yours. Maybe breathe deeply more often. Try to see the fine detail in everything you see. Talk to friends and put yourself out there more. The only way to stumble on a rock is to go to the forest.
If you expect the world to let you down, it probably will. But, if you look at the world as an opportunity to have an experience and take life for what it is, you’ll never have to read articles by a 19-year-old college boy eating halal in his pajamas again.