I don’t know why I still think about love and relationships so much!? I have been single for three years, there isn’t anyone I even have the potential to be more with right now – the one and only guy who has sparked any major interest in all that time is determined to stay single forever! Yet, I still think about it all the time. I still read articles about love and marriage. I still think about what kind of partner I want, what kind of partner I want to be, what I’ll do different the next time. I have finally stopped doing the really destructive thing of going over the past with a fine tooth comb and thinking about, regretting everything I could have done different since I can’t. I can’t unmeet anyone, I can’t unsay anything, I can’t say anything differently than I already did, I can’t rewind and not have had that one fight, I can’t insist that we speak in person instead of over the phone where it is so much more impersonal and easier to say things you’ll regret.
Thinking about those things was necessary though, because they gave insight into what I do want to do differently in future relationships and also how I want to be treated. Of course, there is the chance that I’ll never get the opportunity to do anything differently, because I’ll never meet anyone who I click with and who wants a relationship again – but that is the pessimist in me sneaking in. I just have to remind myself, three years is not THAT long to be single in the grand scheme of things! Sure, in those three years SO much has changed. I went from knowing that I for sure wanted more kids someday, to now I’m pretty sure that I do not as mine are about to enter Middle School and High School and I’m actually looking forward to a first ever kid-free vacation someday. I went from trying really hard to have faith in God – to finally coming to terms with the fact that I am an atheist, and that this enormous universe is awe inspiring enough. I gained 20 pounds and have now lost 10. I went through a “girls-gone-wild” sort of phase that I am not going to talk about on here, but am glad is over. I have had doubts and insecurities and questioned; What is wrong with me? Why am I not loveable? Why am I not worthy of committing to? I have comforted my children through the most difficult year of their young lives. I have cried, I have struggled, I have become stronger.
And with that, here are SOME things that I have learned.
1. I need to be more forgiving. Both of myself and of others. It seems that when we are in romantic relationships, we place expectations on the other person that we would never place on anyone else. Nobody is perfect, nobody is going to always be there for you or always know the right thing to say. Men are going to be late, they’re going to say insensitive things or not know what to say, they’re going to not get along with one or two people you know, they’re going to look at that super-hot chic that just walked by (after all, I looked at her and she was hot!), they’re going to say they’ll call and then get busy or forget, they are going to do things that you find pointless, annoying or irritating – just as I am sure I will do things they don’t understand either. The point is, that love is about loving someone flaws and all! I thought I knew how to love unconditionally before – but when you are truly in love with someone and committed to them, you don’t let go for ANYTHING! You don’t call it quits or throw in the towel when you don’t get your way. If you do, and you really love them, you’ll regret it five seconds later.
2. Don’t go back and forth. Once you have ended things – END IT. There is no repairing whatever has been broken, there is no undoing the damage of a breakup, of cheating, of mistrust and all you are doing is dragging out the inevitable and causing yourself more pain in the long run. And once you’ve ended it, that’s it. No still sleeping together, kissing, snuggling, saying I Love You every time you talk – start the healing process and stop the bleeding sooner rather than later. Get any of those crazy hopes of eventually getting back together out of your head, or you’ll never open yourself up to someone new.
3. If someone tells you they are no good for you – LISTEN TO THEM!
4. Also, listen to all of those other red flags in the beginning. If the relationships starts with a lie, that should be one of them. If he can’t get along with those closest to you that should be another, as should it if you can’t get along with those closest to him (although, not everyone is necessarily going to get along – but if the vast majority think there is something wrong with him – run. Luckily, this has never happened to me but I have seen it with others). If the two of you talk and fundamental wants are drastically different, hello! For instance, he has never seen himself as the marrying type and you have always wanted to be a wife. You’re not going to be the one who gets him to change his mind even if he says you’ve “got him thinking about it.”
5. Stay true to yourself. Don’t let him or anyone else make you feel guilty for wanting what you want. If it is what you truly, wholeheartedly want and you can’t foresee yourself being completely fulfilled or happy without it – don’t shove it under a rug because it’s not what someone else wants or because someone accuses you of being selfish or inpatient for wanting it. Also, it is good to support someone else’s hopes and dreams, but don’t shove your own to the side indefinitely to do so.
6. I have always felt like love was the most important part of the human experience and that has not changed. I used to let it get me down though, like humans are MEANT to be in companionship with other humans, they’re meant to mate, to partner up, etc. I still feel that way, but I have to remember that it is better to be single and completely who you are and to share your love with your kids, friends, family – than to be in a relationship that isn’t healthy. The healthier and happier I become on my own, the healthier and happier I will be in a relationship.
7. I will not die if I never get married again. Many of the dreams I have always had for my life involve having a partner, but I will not die from being single – so I better learn to enjoy living this way! Sure, I want to take vacations with someone, I want to build a home with someone, I want to celebrate holidays, milestones with someone, I want to retire with someone, I want to grow old with someone. I want to set an example for my daughters of what a healthy relationship looks like. But if that never happens, I’ll be ok. (well, as I write this – my eyes tear up at the prospect, so maybe I’m not 100% convinced of this yet!)
8. I am an amazing woman with a lot to give! Am I great match for everyone? Of course not, but not being a good match for someone has NOTHING to do with my not being “good enough” or someone else being “too good for me.”
9. More talking, less texting. Also, when a serious conversation needs to happen, there needs to be a face-to-face, in-person conversation. Texting gets misunderstood and is too impersonal for relationship related conversations. Talking on the phone even puts this layer between you and the person you’re talking to, strips a degree of emotion away and too often you can end up saying something you regret because you’re disconnected/it doesn’t seem as real.
10. Think before you speak, as you can’t take back your words.
11. Be 100% who I am from the very beginning and ask the same of him. Stop worrying that he won’t like me, that I’ll make him mad, etc. I want someone who will love me completely – flaws and all – and that can’t happen if I’m tip-toeing around, trying to not make any waves or be nice all the time! This doesn’t mean I need to let all my ugly hang out at once or tell him every detail of my life on the first date – that would be enough to scare anyone away!
12. Do not, ever, under any circumstances tell my family anything about the person that I am dating that isn’t positive or that I don’t want them remembering or bringing up a year, two years, 10 years from now. I am the one in the relationship, I am the one who has decided whether or not this is a person I want in mine and my kids’ life. They can get to know him and decide if they like him or not, but I will not let their impression of him sway me unless it is a huge red flag they are seeing that I am just stupidly blind to. I will not vent to them, but will handle all issues within the bounds of the relationship. Family tends to not be nearly as forgiving of your partner’s transgressions as you are and anything you will tell them they’ll hold onto as proof of why he’s not good enough for you. Or, at least, dysfunctional families like mine will!
Ok, that is all for now. There is more but a dozen is a good, even number and I am short on time!