Growing up, I watched romantic comedies, idolizing the characters and soaking up the sappy love stories' happy endings. Movies like "Sixteen Candles," "Pretty in Pink" and "Dirty Dancing" showed me that anything was possible if you just had the love of your life by your side.
Cue the romantic pop melody and the credits.
I took these messages to the extreme; I craved relationships and love. A former serial relationship-jumper, I would end one relationship, and immediately dive headfirst into another. The longest break in between my relationships was two weeks. Yep, that's just two weeks of solitude from my 15th through 28th birthdays.
That was a problem.
I have since taken a complete 360-degree turn and have been single for a few years now. Yes, I date, but I have not been in a serious long-term relationship. I am often questioned on my choice, and receive a slew of questions that range from curious to rude.
My general response is that I'm not prepared to be in a relationship unless it completely lights my soul on fire. Why settle for any less?
The thing is, I realized as I've gotten older that there is more required of a relationship than just finding someone who is attractive and makes you laugh. Relationships are great, but successful relationships take work. I'm not willing to invest my time or my heart to something – or someone -- I can't fully commit to.
Specifically, I learned that there were certain things about myself that I needed to work on and change if I ever hoped to manifest a successful relationship.
I had to recognize and remember my worth.
Many of us are guilty of forgetting how special we are or how bright our light really shines. Whether it's how talented you are at playing piano, or how well you execute a punchline for a joke, each of us is unique.
When an important relationship doesn't work out, sometimes you internalize the pain and tell yourself that it's your fault. Never allow anyone – in a romantic relationship or otherwise – to make you forget how amazing you really are.
I had to figure out my life and my personal goals.
I was so busy being in relationships, I never stopped to consider what I wanted out of my life, besides being someone's girlfriend or wife. I examined myself, my talents, my passions and my desires, and I'm working every day to make my dreams a reality.
Effort and ambition are attractive; you should have those qualities with or without a partner by your side.
I needed to learn how to participate in a healthy relationship.
How could I possibly know what it took to have a healthy relationship with someone else when I didn't even have one with myself? I had to examine my failed relationships, and yes, myself, with a magnifying glass. It's not comfortable, and it's not easy, but it's necessary work.
I needed to learn how to be comfortable being alone.
Back when I was jumping between relationships, I did not see any issue with my behavior, but in reality, I never gave myself time to properly mourn and move on (or learn from my mistakes).
I simply covered up any uncomfortable emotions with a new person to sleep with, pushing away my troubles. The thing about this method is that it never really goes away; it may be months or even years later, but the lesson you didn't take the time to learn will reappear in your life, forcing you to focus on it.
All the rom-coms forget to tell us is that we are the stars: the heroine. Without us, the movie would not exist.
One of the most important relationships you will ever have is the one you have with yourself. Date yourself, get to know yourself and be comfortable with yourself. The more you discover yourself and what makes you happy, the more likely you are to find a relationship that makes you happy, too.