We live in a relationship obsessed culture. The consistent message is that if you aren’t currently in a relationship you should be trying to find a lover. I’m a veteran of the carousel. I’ve lived with five different men, been divorced twice and have three exes from last year alone. I’m finally learning that I’m more than okay with being alone and reserving my time and energy for myself and my nine-year old son.
“But I’ve never been married.”
“But I’m only in my twenties.”
“My biological clock is ticking!”
“I have to have someone! I’m no good being alone!”
I can relate. I am still dealing with co-dependency issues in my fourth decade of life. I know all about settling. I know all about feelings of inadequacy and intense loneliness. I also know that I’m not going to get half of what I’m after by constantly joining dating sites and going from relationship to relationship just to avoid being alone. People throw the phrase “soul mate” around and I’m still not sure what that means. If soul mate means someone you’re deeply in love with then I can say I’ve had the soul mate experience. I’ve had that experience exactly once and it didn’t result in a white picket fence American status quo dream life. We were off and on for almost four years and when it finally ended I felt like I was dying. I’m still not completely over that relationship. During one of our breaks a few years ago I felt like I needed to join various dating sites and try my damnedest to replace him. That didn’t work. You can’t replace a human being.
I’m a highly sexual hopeless romantic and I do hope to fall in love again someday and maybe even get married a third and final time. Maybe I should be cynical by now but I’m not. But I’ve found my truth and it is this:
I am going to learn how to love myself,
really truly value and respect myself,
before getting involved with another man.
My time and energy are precious. Rather than wasting time and energy on a mediocre relationship (it kind of sickens me to think of all the things I’ve overlooked and allowed in previous relationships just so that I could have sex and companionship) I’m doing things I care about and enjoy. I’m focusing on eating healthy, meditating, reading, writing, creating art. I’m mothering my son. I’m not proud of myself for all the times I put some random man before my son but I’m not the same woman now I was a year ago and I feel good about that.
When taking a break from dating you’re taking time for yourself. You’re figuring out what exactly the hell you want in a relationship. You’re figuring out what you’ll accept and what you would never allow. There is nothing to be said for desperation. Tell yourself you are a queen and believe it.
Misti Rainwater-Lites is the author of Bullshit Rodeo and other works of fiction and poetry. She blogs at www.youareauthorized.com and has a YouTube channel as Kroma Scott.