At some point in my life, having a boyfriend was the main goal: it was the be all and end all of my social life and I wasn’t cool unless I had a man (ahem: boy) who’s arm I could attach myself to. It’s only when I went three years in between having a boyfriend when my world changed for the better: I realised that I was pretty cool and having a boyfriend wasn’t what made me me, it was simply a nice add-on to have somebody who I shared things in common with and to have somebody I could see a future with. I was wide awake. But why do so many of us feel like we can’t be alone in this world?
When I did a bit of research into the psychology of why people feel like they need to have a partner, a lot of the links that I read were leaning towards mental health. People will spend endless hours trying to make sense of their love lives whether they are married, in a relationship or single – people want to work through their unresolved issues and even their baggage from past relationships. We all have it: baggage, I know I do – and although I won’t touch on my past relationships in this post I will say that I had a massive wake up call when I went single for the long-term five years ago which gave me the opportunity to work through my issues for three years and come to understand myself – but I am getting ahead of myself, I’ll brush on this more in juuust a sec.
Relationships are complicated, whether you’re in a good one or in a bad one, every relationship is complicated and there’s more to them than we know when looking from the outside in. We don’t know if the happy couple sat in front of us had a shouting match an hour before because someone couldn’t be bothered to make the bed – or even – if that someone went out with their friends last night and feels too hungover to even be out right now, there’s all sorts of scenarios I could present but the point still stands: we’re all simply outsiders and we don’t truly know the ongoings of other peoples personal relationships. So when we witness relationships fall apart and the once happy couple go their separate ways, it’s always interesting to see how each individual deals with the break up.
Sometimes we see people rush back into relationships because they feel like they aren’t their best selves when they’re not linked up with somebody. I learned that this was shockingly true when I asked my Instagram followers on a poll if they felt like their best self when in a relationship. Although the majority said no, that they felt like they could be single and independent and be okay, there was still a shocking number of people that said yes, they were only their best selves when in a relationship.
This tells me that these people feel like they’re not complete without someone to share their happiness, sadness and boringness with. Because we all have the happy days, the sad days and the boring days. I have more boring days than I have happy or sad, and I share every type of day with my boyfriend, I tell him all about my days and what happened – useless conversations and simple exchanges: I tell him everything. But when I was single, my days were the exact same albeit lately they have been getting a little bit more interesting.
I didn’t share those days with anybody or tell them about how this person *really* got on my nerves today or how I got this really exciting email and I’m so happy and pleased. I simply shared the boringness with myself, I would sometimes Tweet things but when I was single I was going through the greatest experience of my teenage life. I was self discovering and becoming somebody that I didn’t know. Myself.
I’ve been thinking a lot about something that Pedro once said to me: He told me that he noticed when we were friends that I would somehow mould into the person that I was linked up with, that their interests would become my interests and that I would behave more and more like that person as time went on. Whether we were dating or in a relationship, it would always happen. After he said this, I didn’t push the conversation any further because I was simply so surprised that somebody else had noticed it too. I wasn’t myself before I became myself. I was forced to be lonely and to have the boring, uneventful days and the happy and sad days spent with only myself. I was forced to get to like things simply because I liked them, I was given a sense of freedom and a chance to turn over a new leaf. I’ve always said that this period in my life was a necessary step before Pedro and I could become a couple, we’d be our best version of ourselves if both of us had been able to experience knowing ourselves truly – and out of the two of us, I was the only one that didn’t.
So during my elusive ~singleness~ I did go on dates and talk to people but I was never actually interested in having a boyfriend, I think I was only doing it because the people around me were pushing me to get one. But the reality of it all was that I was quite happy to spend my days with myself and do things because I wanted to. My days were very boring, don’t get me wrong, but they were days that I had never experienced before. I wasn’t desperately texting somebody that wasn’t interested or appearing offline, then online, then offline, then online on MSN to get his attention and I was valuing the friendships that I had and feeling like I wasn’t taking anyone or anything for granted because I was truly: lonely.
But not in a bad sense of the word, it wasn’t a loneliness that I hated or resented, it was a loneliness that I was appreciative of. I wanted to experience this time and have things that I liked, loved and hated because those were my opinions on those things and not because I had the pressure of impressing somebody weighing heavily on my shoulders. I wanted to discover my style and pick up quirky traits because they were mine and not borrowed from somebody else. I was trying my best to become myself and I was loving it.
When the time came for me to spend six months flirting with the idea of a relationship with Pedro, when we were Skyping every day and texting all day every day, it wasn’t forced and it wasn’t because I had actively gone out seeking a relationship. Truth be told, we were friends for almost ten years before we got into a relationship – a real one – with each other. He was my best friend and somebody who I felt like I could deeply trust, he was somebody who excited me and made me want to wake up every morning but most importantly: he was somebody who I could be truly myself around. He has been the first person to experience the “me” that I found through my alone time, and he loves me regardless.
As always though, I have picked up traits and interests thanks to him, I think this is a very normal thing when you spend a lot of time with somebody, so I won’t talk down on becoming alike to somebody, but those are just additional parts of myself that he has opened up, as a whole: I am me. I listen to the music I want to and I know he won’t laugh at me for it, I dress how I want to because I know that no matter what, he’ll think I look great, and I express my true, honest and open opinions with him because I know that even if it sparks debate: he won’t love me any less.
This is all thanks to the time that I had alone. I really believe that it is absolutely necessary for people to experience being single at least once in their lives, this is the best time for getting to know yourself and come to terms with who you really are as a person. I believe that you also learn to know what you truly want out of life and what things are really important to you. You’re never going to get into a relationship with somebody and it’ll be perfect, you’ll have things that you love and don’t love so much about each other and this is okay, as I said: relationships are complicated. But I do believe that if you have a relationship with yourself, if you spend time getting to know yourself and getting to love yourself, your next relationship will thrive because of it. Because you know who you are, what you want and how you want it – but this is all just coming from my own experience. Not everybody feels this way nor does everybody have to feel this way, but for me, I am the best version of myself I’ve ever been. I am me with the most amazing person at my side.