Relationships are high-stakes these days.
I haven’t looked into the numbers, but considering how many relationships the average person has in a lifetime (not counting one-night stands, booty calls and friends with benefits), the probability that things will work out is between 10 and 15 percent. It’s probably even less if you factor in the marriages that are failing or very unhappy.
Why are relationships so hard? And why do we enter them if they're so doomed?
Relationships might have such trouble because people tend to learn by trial and error. We aren't sure what works, so we'll date anyone who catches our interest in order to narrow our preferences.
But there has to be more to it than that. Certainly, many happy relationships -- ones that should have worked -- failed. Maybe the people in them just couldn't get it together.
Most people would say that "the timing was off." Oh, timing… you impossible little bastard.
But wanting a relationship isn’t the same as being ready for one. Sometimes we aren’t emotionally ready to date. Dating after heartbreak, for example, is always difficult.
People believe a relationship should work if both people are in a healthy emotional place in their lives.
And this does make it more doable. But being emotionally ready for a relationship isn’t necessarily the same as being mentally ready for it.
One of the main reasons people break up is they're not mentally prepared. They don’t yet fully understand what it is they want and need, nor are they ready to make the necessary sacrifices. You could say they’re not mature enough.
How could people prepare to make necessary sacrifices if they don't even know what they're sacrificing in the first place? Or, what's worse, they don't know what it means to compromise?
There's really only one way to mentally prepare yourself for becoming a single, functioning, loving unit: You have to know yourself on a deep and intimate level.
Yes, you need to get intimate with yourself. Keep in mind that requires you to spend a lot of time with yourself and no one else. It requires alone time.
And the longer you’re single, the better the partner you'll be in the future.
You need to get to know yourself.
We spend so much time putting on facades for others. We pretend to be people we're not. And when we try too hard to fit in, we lose ourselves -- often without realizing it.
We all change with time, but we don’t always grow with time. Sometimes we take a couple of steps backward; we regress and turn into our younger, more immature selves.
It happens. It’s okay. The day is not yet over, and you can choose to get yourself back on track.
Once you take some time to be alone and explore who you are -- keeping in mind the person you want to be -- you’ll get to know yourself again.
You’ll come to realize what’s most important to you. You'll also learn what's trivial and disposable in your life.
Don’t expect this to be easy. I know it may sound easy, but it’s more difficult than you'd think. Old habits often refuse to die, and being alone is the only way to get enough breathing room to do what needs to be done.
You need to be okay with being alone. You have to accept that you are enough.
I understand you want someone in your life. I understand you don’t want to feel alone.
I don't either, and neither does anyone walking this planet.
But you should be happy when you're by yourself. Your happiness, focus and hunger for life can't depend on somebody else. I understand that, on some level, this is impossible; most of us gain happiness from having a partner. But you can't allow someone's absence to define your life.
You can’t look at a life with someone else as better than your life now. Because if that life is better, then the one you’re living now must be worse. Right?
But it's not. It isn’t a bad life. It’s simply different, and you need to learn to be okay with something different.
Too many people use relationships like Band-Aids, but the blood always seeps through.
We’re all a bit bruised, a bit scarred and jaded. Some days are certainly going to be darker. But at the end of the day, your happiness is truly a choice. And a relationship isn't going to "fix" you.
You choose how you perceive the world. If you realize this and continue to see the world the way you do now, that’s on you. But if you force yourself to change, you can. (Keep in mind: I said "force"!)
If you change your reality, you'll be happy with your life. You'll be happy with yourself and how you can control your life. And you'll have something that too many of us lose -- hope.
Getting into a relationship before you’re emotionally and mentally prepared reduces the chances it will work out.
How can someone else love you when the "you" isn't your true self? How can you be fully loved when you don't know what love is?
The longer you’re single -- the longer you pause to understand yourself and to create your life with your mind's paintbrush -- the more likely your next relationship will be the last one you'll ever need.