How I Learned To Forgive Myself For Wanting A Relationship

by Julia Feeser

I am a long-suffering victim of the 2000-era romantic teen comedies.

I now realize they set me up for a lot of disaster in my love life, disaster I’m sure was avoidable, even despite my braces and glasses combo, circa junior high.

In a majority of these movies, the heroine is almost always a bit of a quirky but lovable outcast, and she's definitely not interested in the attractive, popular man who is pursuing her.

What I learned from these movies was that in order to be an attractive and confident young woman who stands out, you had to make it clear you were not interested in a relationship.

You were fine by yourself, these movies told you. You don’t need a man, and you are actually more attractive to a man if you let him know you have no interest in his pursuit.

You are an island. You are a playful oak, rooted and immovable, but still charmingly flirtatious and witty.

Take this mentality and bring it into the world where there are countless articles, books and movies about why being single is the best state of being; why you should never apologize for being single (this one is true); and why if you want to catch me, you’re going to have to first fight through my independence and the fact that I don’t need you.

Good luck to you, sir. Just try moving this oak. (Your biceps are huge!)

I used to believe being a happy, confident single woman meant I wasn’t allowed to admit to myself or anyone else the truth: I actually do want to be with someone.

I thought this was a sign of weakness, a blot on the single girl mantra and a dishonor to my fellow independent single ladies. It took me a long time to be okay with my desire to not be single, and an even longer time to admit that I do in fact someday want the big kahuna of all relationships: marriage.

We could go through the normal list of why being single has its definite perks: You get to explore what you like or don’t like in a partner, you get the space to really know yourself, you have the ability to move, travel or buy whatever you want because your decisions only affect you, etc.

Being single can be an amazing, life-changing season, and I know, without a doubt, being single has played an invaluable role in making me the fabulous woman that I am.

I genuinely believe individuals should, at some point, experience both the challenge and joy that comes with being totally, completely single. It makes you face yourself and your abilities to live life on your own in a way unique.

But, I lived too long under the impression that I couldn’t have it both ways.

To be a bold, traveling, fulfilled, happy single lady is to be a woman who has no time or desire for a relationship (let alone marriage), or so I thought.

For the woman jet-setting to Greece, Australia and Brazil — who revels in her freedom — to, at the end of the day, desire some type of permanent companionship made no sense.

And yet, I find myself to be this woman. I am the woman who picks up and spends four months in different places, who genuinely gratifies in her unmarried status and who has the courage to be independent and experience life on her own.

But I cannot deny the very real desire I have for a partner and a romantic relationship. (Thanks to Tinder, that’s a reality.)

Yes, being single can be awesome. And yes, being in a relationship can be awesome. As a strong single woman, your desire for a relationship doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human.

You can be a grounded, happy and carefree single person and still want a relationship. You can have it both ways.

I think we’re robbing ourselves of experience when we mistake a desire for a relationship as something negative, something to be kept hidden and separate from our identities.

Don’t back down from embracing the excitement of single life and the hope of finding real, lasting love.