Once upon a time, I was in a serious relationship. And like most college relationships, it ended before graduation. Two and a half years later, I’m still single, and happily so. Somewhere along that solitary road of sifting through the rubble of heartaches and frustrations and pulling myself up from intermittent bouts of depression, I learned to love myself more than anyone else could.
We may not have the same experiences, but allow me to share the lessons I’ve picked up about love and commitment along the way.
Being single is better than having someone and feeling lonely
After the breakup, I went on a dating spree and settled for the first person that took an interest in me simply for the sake of having someone. I needed that daily nudge of validation to get through the rough phase of settling in my first corporate job. But after a few dull dates and a brief, unstable relationship, I decided to take a break and give singlehood another shot.
Things became steadier after that. I made friends, set long-term goals, made little achievements, and rediscovered my old self, one who delighted in the simple pleasures of life. Now when people inquire about my relationship status, my lips no longer quiver when I say the S word, because I’ve come to embrace it fully. I can now spend the whole weekend at home, go out alone, or scroll through my News Feed without wallowing in self-pity.
People grow apart and fall out of love, and that’s okay
Two years ago, my perspective pretty much alternated between these thoughts: “I am unlovable,” or “He must have found someone better than me,” or “Am I not worth fighting for?” as if I was stuck in a bottomless pit where Taylor Swift’s complete discography is playing on a continuous loop. Now that I can take a better, more objective look at my past relationships, I learned that it’s unavoidable for two people in love to grow apart.
Despite our feeble nature, our perceptions and aspirations are bound to change. Despite that, even the smartest, most intuitive person in the world fails at recognizing or accepting this fact, because it’s much harder to fathom love when it loses its luster. But soon, when you’ve mustered enough courage to let go, you’ll find that you’re better off being alone than spending each waking hour holding on to something that’s not there anymore.
You should put yourself first, regardless of your status
Solitary animals are depicted in a bad light across cultures and folklore. The fox is cunning and deceitful. The jaguar is opportunistic. The badger lives a quiet, solitary life in a dark burrow, but is vicious when provoked. Solitary humans are shunned and labeled as indifferent or anti-social. Putting your interests and priorities first doesn’t make you anti-social or selfish.
In my experience, people who celebrate their solitude tend to be happier, kinder, and more genuine. They tend to be better partners, too. I know that because I was raised by parents that didn’t smother each other, which gave room for me and my siblings to grow up as independent, but compassionate individuals.
Having a partner shouldn’t feel like a dead end, and so is being single. Love selflessly, but don’t put your life on hold for someone who might not even be there with you at the end.
Singlehood is Not Sad nor Shameful
Being single is not necessarily the worst thing. Society extols the benefits of partnership and either extend their kindness to or frown on single people because, according to social mores, they are pitiful. But being single is not just a status, nor is it a transitional phase for when someone you’d want to marry comes along.
It is a process of constantly reinventing yourself, forgiving those who hurt you, acknowledging your faults, or simply choosing a different way of navigating the social world. It is also an opportunity to let your heart fully heal that if ever you decide to enter another relationship, it will have to be better than the relationship you have with yourself.
We have our reasons for staying single or being in a relationship. Whatever situation you’re in, you can still be a strong, independent person you aspire to be. But let me leave you with a nugget of wisdom from the happiest solitary man that ever lived – Henry David Thoreau.
“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”