If you've been single for what you think is a long time, take it from me: Being single for so long will help you be a better girlfriend or boyfriend.
When I was single, I was stereotypically miserable... and I stayed that way for four long years.
I spent days scouting for potential candidates, but I never made a move. I spent nights asking my friends to set me up, but they never did.
I was always a bit picky, though. I knew I wanted my next boyfriend to become my husband... or at least, I wanted him to be a potential candidate.
I was never into the "casual dating" scene: If there was a first date, it was because he was seriously interested in me. If there was a second, it was because I saw him as a potential candidate.
Maybe that's why I was single for so long: I scared away all the guys who weren't ready for that kind of commitment because I was so obvious about wanting it myself.
If that's true, then I'm much better for it. I didn't waste my time. Instead, I spent more time focusing on my career and my dreams.
Today, I have a great job. My dreams are coming along rather nicely, and I have a really great man cheering me on.
I don't think I would have been a bad girlfriend if I had been one in those four years. But I DO think my four years of watching happy couples and wishing I was a part of one strengthened the relationship I have now.
I appreciate him.
I know now how hard it can be to find someone who checks off even a few of your boxes, let alone someone who loves you as much as you love him.
I appreciate his efforts in taking me on nice dates, even six months later. Thanks to that period of time I wasn't dating at all, I appreciate his willingness to give me time to myself.
Sometimes, he even sits in silence with me.
I couldn't care less about social media.
If I had a dollar for every time I rolled my eyes at photos of couples jumping on each other's backs and showing off creative proposal photos, I probably could've traveled the world twice.
I don't want to be that person single people hate, and we don't want our lives plastered across the internet.
I also trust my boyfriend and our relationship enough to not feel like posting about it makes it more permanent.
There's a picture of us on Facebook from when I graduated from college, and both of our profiles show we're in a relationship. But I've never taken a crappy selfie with him and said, "EVERYONE needs to see this!"
Naturally, when I was single, I needed everyone to know when I left the house. Four years of doing that can really change a person.
I'm taking my own advice.
As a young single girl, I somehow became the sounding board for all of my friends' relationship drama. Most of the time, I only got jealous when they asked for my advice and opinions because I wanted that drama too.
Now, I can't imagine having those little fights with my boyfriend. Maybe it's because I spent so much time helping my friends, I saw how petty some of those fights were.
I figured out what I would do if I found myself in those same situations: It was like studying for a big test.
Thankfully, my relationship doesn't feel like a test, but maybe that's because I came in so well-prepared.
If I hadn't been single for four years before finding my love, I wouldn't have been so prepared.
People say casual dating is healthy; it can help you "practice" for when you really want to be in a serious relationship with someone.
Even though this may work for some people, being single for so long is really the best "practice" there is.
I came in knowing exactly what I wanted, and how to handle situations. I came in appreciating every little thing he does for me because I've experienced the exact opposite.
I came in not caring if the world knows how much I love him or not, as long as he knows. It's a good, healthy relationship... and I may not have figured out how to be a good girlfriend if I hadn't been single for so long.