How Having Self-Worth Will Keep You Happy Both Single And Coupled Up

by Stephanie Sharlow

I stared at my phone, praying it would buzz.

I just need a quick buzz, a Snapchat, a text, anything.

It was the lowest point of my romantic life.

I had been seeing a guy monogamously for several months, and although he said all the right things and pursued me at the onset of our affair, it never quite felt right.

I've never been the needy one in relationships.

But looking back, all of my past romantic endeavors have one thing in common: At no point did I ever question if I was cherished and respected. I never felt that way in this relationship. In fact, it was a string of emotional emptiness that only worsened over time.

He had borderline sociopathic behavior and used mind games, and I turned into a shell of my former self. By the time I stood up for myself and finally told him to lose my number, I felt utterly deceived.

I was a once-confident woman, now degraded to staring at her phone and sobbing. I thought I'd be alone forever.

Of course, that idea is ludicrous. I'm not even 24 years old, and my life has barely just started.

Luckily, I awoke the next morning, looked myself in the mirror through puffy eyes, and said to myself:

What the hell are you doing?

I didn't want this. Maybe love is real, and maybe it's not. But, I'm certainly never going to find out by wasting my time with douchebags who don't even have the common courtesy to call me or make concrete plans.

I would rather be single.

There is quite a bit of back and forth regarding singledom now. Is it truly ultimate freedom, or are we just talking it up for the sake of saving our emotions?

Recently, New York Times writer Tim Kreider published an opinion piece called, "'Quirkyalone' Is Still Alone."

It focused on singles in New York City who are sobbing about their inability to attract the right kinds of partners. They give themselves to others time and again, and it never pans out.

Then, it morphs into a piece that paints singles as delusional individuals secretly yearning for a "better half."

I think the better conversation to explore isn't whether single or coupled up is superior, but rather why we feel the need to determine our worth in regards to these two categories.

I have never been a "proud single," nor have I been proud to be in a relationship.

It doesn't mean I've never been in love (I have), and it doesn't mean I've never been proud of the person I was in love with (of course, I was). It simply means my self-worth wasn't dependent on another. I was, instead, a Proud Stephanie.

Despite those few months before I got my mojo back, I've simply lived my life.

I've traveled; I've played the field; I've dated; I've worked my ass off, I've partied, and I've Netflixed. I've invested time, energy and love into so many relationships, but not all of them were romantic.

And because of that, I have never felt alone, regardless of whether or not I had someone sleeping next to me at night.

I've been cheated on, ghosted, stood up, used and abused. I've broken up with men, and I've been brutally dumped. And at the end of it, I pick myself up and move on with my day.

I will not pine for someone who doesn't make me feel special and adored. It is simply a waste of my time, and my time is precious and valuable.

Maybe those men and women from the article are truly attracting the wrong partners. But maybe it's their own faults.

Perhaps, the only time we feel like "lonely outsiders looking in" is when we allow someone else to take our self-worth from us, transforming us into desperate seekers of validation who ditch our support systems in exchange for lopsided relationships that are doomed from inception.

We need a shift in mentality when it comes to dating. Neither men nor women should ever be desperate to catch a mate.

This isn't a game; this is life, and these are people's hearts. And regardless of the situation, we need to be careful, delicate and honest when people trust us with their hearts.

Relationships are built on mutual respect, trust, communication and passion, and to find them, we must be willing to feel authentically and own up to what we want.

Call when you want to call, not when society tells you to. Go with your gut, embrace your physical desires, and tell your lover you want to be monogamous, if that's what you want.

Or if you don't want to continue dating, tell him or her kindly and to his or her face.

We will never find love if we sit back meekly and let other people hold all the power. Leave it all on the floor, and if it doesn't work out, you won't be left with unanswered questions.

You won't be crying to your friends, or asking what's wrong with you because the answer is nothing. You are you, and that is perfect.

All relationships fail, until they don't anymore. You only need one to stick, and it will be the last one. It's simple math.

You won't find the one who sticks while you're grasping at straws, swiping right any chance you get and constantly lowering your standards, just to get a big rock on your left hand and a passionless marriage to match.

And you will feel alone when you put all your eggs in a Tinder-themed basket after two dates, only to have it not pan out.

People can be happy single. They are the same people who are happy in relationships and every other facet of life. They are confident in themselves, their choices and the people they are at their cores.

Desperation is unbecoming, but if that's what you need to be, then be desperate to live an exceptional life. Surround yourself with people who make life beautiful, complex and joyful, and single won't mean alone.

Eventually, one of those extraordinary hearts will match yours.