Full disclosure: I’ve been somewhat of a serial monogamist since I was in high school. Fresh out of a five-year relationship, I’ve decided that this time, it’s in my best interest to stand on my own two feet.
There are more productive ways I could (and should) be spending my time. In every relationship I’ve ever been in, I always end up spending a lot of time doing stuff I probably wouldn’t be doing if I were single. It wasn’t all bad but it wasn’t necessarily getting me closer to my goals.
It’s time to set some goals and start going after them. It wasn’t until I was out of relationships that I realized how complacent I’d become in them. Day to day, I was meeting my minimum level of contentedness but that was pretty much it. I was just content enough to not feel like I had to change. Once my relationship ended, I realized that other elements in my life (job, social life, physical fitness, etc.) weren’t quite up to snuff and that I needed to put some serious gusto behind them. Coincidently, there seemed to be a lot more time to do so.
The longer I’m on my own, the more self-sufficient I’m becoming. Confession: I went and got my oil changed for the first time when I was 27. I’d been driving since I was 15. Somehow, I always was able to convince my partners that I was totally incapable of handling these things on my own. I’d always been told that auto shops try to punk girls into services they don’t need. Somewhere along the line, I started to buy that narrative and tagged this task onto the things-I-don’t-know-how-to-do list, which kept getting longer and longer. As I sat there in the auto shop’s waiting room for the first time, it dawned on me: I can handle this and a whole lot more.
My career is on the upswing. Since no one’s going to be there to greet me when I get home, I don’t feel the same pressure to leave the office the second the clock strikes 5 p.m. I might as well stay and finish the task I’m working on. Doing so has actually improved my day’s workflow and I get the distinct impression that the occasional run-in with higher-ups in the later hours (after everyone is gone) is improving my standing in their eyes. I’ve taken the time to brush up my resume, pursue a side hustle, and think about my next moves.
I Need To Reevaluate The Narrative I’ve Believed About Myself. When we’re told something about ourselves over and over, we internalize it and adopt it as part of our identities. It feels even more valid when it comes from another person who we believe knows us well. When I’ve “zoomed out” from my relationships, I’ve realized that some of the things that my exes believed about me weren’t entirely true. Worse still, I began to think that their ideations of me were factual. Being single gives me the space and perspective to approach those perceptions from a different angle—my own angle. Maybe those discrepancies are part of the reason it didn’t work out.
Anything Could Happen, and that’s exciting AF. In my last relationship, as we moved further and further along, it seemed like major parts of my life were solidifying. Marriage, children, and white picket fences all seemed imminent. The day-to-day was predictable. Anchors were cast. Since I’ve been single, I’ve entertained ideas that I really hadn’t before. I could move to a different city. I could meet someone that will change my life. I might just do something on a whim, and that’s pretty damn exciting.
I need the freedom to move at my own pace. People often go into relationships with some unconscious expectations. My last boyfriend was a few years older than me and expected me to mature at a faster rate than was natural to me. My boyfriend before him thought I was taking myself too seriously and needed to enjoy the moment more. Either way, someone close to me whose opinion mattered to me was impacting my natural growth rate. Not anymore.
I’m still learning not to put all my eggs in one basket. In my past relationships, one person was basically my everything. They were my best friend, my confidant, my advisor, and my partner-in-crime all in one. Now, I have some slots to fill. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that you just never know what might come of a relationship you build with someone.
My world view is continually evolving, and that’s a good thing. When you have someone affirming your life view regularly, you start to think you have it all figured out. Breakups are a humbling experience. The combination of having your life plan shaken up, standing on your own again, and feeling a little vulnerable makes you a little more open-minded about other people’s opinions and situations. For example, I used think fart jokes were gross. My ex agreed. Fast-forward six months and I now find them hilarious.