The Absence (Or Presence) Of A Relationship Doesn’t Define You


I’ve been single (very single) for quite a while now and until recently, I felt poorly about myself because of it. I would attribute my lack of a boyfriend as the product of some sort of deficit within me. Was it because I wasn’t slender enough? Smart enough? Funny enough? Whatever the alluring adjective was, I decided that they didn’t apply to me because a guy would have picked me up by if these thing were true, right? And so, every time something with a guy didn’t work out, I blamed myself.

Then this past weekend, a guy treated me pretty poorly. I won’t get into what he did, as in the end it’s not important. Usually after an experience like that, I would start pointing fingers in my own direction, citing any missteps I made during our interactions that surely pushed him away. This time, however, was different. I don’t know what snapped within me, but I realized that he just wasn’t the guy for me, nor would I want to be with someone who treated me with such disrespect.

Of course, sometimes someone doesn’t have to treat you unkindly in order for it to not be “your fault” or “their fault.” Blame isn’t always necessary; it’s just that not all keys are made for every lock.

This was one of the hardest things for me to accept. It is part of the human condition, after all, to categorize and define; it helps us make sense of this messy world we live in and likewise we want to know where we belong (or don’t) in the mix. My reference point was always another human (typically one who rejected me). I think it’s only natural to question ourselves after we’re rejected. It hurts being rejected, after all, there’s no denying that. So, we start to doubt ourselves. Maybe we really aren’t that funny, that interesting, or that attractive. But, what I failed to recognize was that these desirable traits people typically list they are looking for in another on their Tinder profiles are incredibly dynamic. There is not one kind of funny or one kind of beautiful, nor is there one kind of intelligent. You just need to find someone who understands and is compatible with yours.

Whether you’re single or taken, you should never stop dedicating time to yourself and what’s important to you. You don’t need someone else to validate what you’re interested in. If you want to check out a movie that nobody else wants to see, go see it yourself! You don’t need a plus-one to go (besides, this way you’ll get all the popcorn.) It is important for personal growth to spend time alone. Without solidarity, we don’t get to know who we truly are because we’re constantly constrained to existence by the validation of others.

I do want to acknowledge, however, that a strong relationship is truly a lovely thing, and just because we want to be independent doesn’t mean we should steer clear of a relationship or date. If someone asks you out, give them a chance. Just because it might not workout doesn’t mean you wouldn’t gain something from the experience.

In the end, if you put your self-worth in the hands of your boyfriend or girlfriend, not only does that rob you of your authority, it also will damage the relationship. That’s a lot of pressure to put on another person. And just remember that there are many things that make us who we are. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t give (or take away) the talents we have, the kindness we give to others, the compassion we have for ourselves, or the passions we thrive on. If you value and build on those things, someone else is bound to notice, too. Only, this time around, you didn’t need them to.

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