Being Single For A Long Time Helped Me Be A Better Girlfriend
The power of solitude by itself isn't the only magic ingredient when you're trying to become a better person.
But if used correctly and in combination with the desire to learn, solitude is one of the most powerful tools you can build upon and use for a lifetime in many different scenarios, including a romantic relationship.
If you can really be by yourself, you start to know all aspects of your personality including the things you love and the ones that get on your last nerve.
But when we're busy filling solitude with people or relationships, we are prolonging the inevitable. We delay the process of getting to know whom we really are at the core.
After my last relationship in 2010, I was single for the next few years.
I remember going through the motions of a breakup and checking things off my to-do list so my mind wouldn't have time to think and in turn, my heart wouldn't have time to feel.
But sure enough, what I resisted persisted.
One day, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably for no given reason and for the first time, taking a look at my life as a whole from the outside looking in.
The emotions all felt new even though some time had passed since we broke up.
For some reason, that day felt like the first day of my "single life."
It was different because I was finally in a place that invited curiosity.
I began to wonder why I reacted to circumstances the way I had and looked for the common denominator in fights that were blown out of proportion.
It was like solving a puzzle for me. Only this time, there were 1,000 pieces scattered everywhere with no roadmap to guide me.
Being single for a long time taught me a lot about myself, including the things I wanted in a partner.
I got to know my personality for what it was and embraced things about myself that would likely never change.
This made it easier to spot characteristics in men that would either complement my traits or work against them.
When you're single, you have the luxury of dedicating all of your time and energy to self-growth and laying a foundation of where it is you want to go.
Envisioning your personal path requires a tremendous amount of self-awareness because without knowing where you emotionally stand, how can you pave the way for where you're headed?
It's difficult to do.
You get to celebrate being selfish when you're single, which in essence is celebrating and encouraging self-preservation.
Growth and curiosity require time and energy -- two things that come in abundance when you're not dating anyone.
You don't only learn to see your personal desires more clearly, you get to envision your professional ones as well.
If entrepreneurship is something you learn to value during your single days, you'll know that trying to date someone who wants you to shut down work at 3 pm may not be compatible.
Although I waited many years to get into another relationship and used the time I had to myself to get really curious about whom the heck I was, it continues to be an ongoing learning process.
And while the next relationship I had eventually ended, letting go was easier and done with maturity because I had a clear vision of what I wanted in my life.
I was also able to identify faults a lot quicker and with a bigger sense of practicality.
No one is perfect, including myself.
When you know whom you are, you know what pushes your buttons and what may cause a negative reaction.
These scenarios allowed me to be humble when necessary and have uncomfortable conversations that I would have previously avoided.
To be a good girlfriend, you not only have to be humble, you also need to know when to enforce boundaries.
And when someone doesn't reciprocate the level of respect you deliver, it's easier to walk away when you're well acquainted with the expectations you set in place.
Self-respect and maintaining a realistic perspective about our dynamic made me a great girlfriend.
However, it is thanks to my single years and my increasing desire to remain curious I developed many of the characteristics I mentioned.
Life is not what happens to you, but how you react to it. And you can only improve your reactions and the amount of grace you show up with when you know yourself through and through.