I used to be one of those people who jumped from relationship to relationship.
I would be in a relationship for however long, break up for whatever reason, enjoy a few months of freedom, and when the next man approached me (if he “fit the bill”, of course), I would date him, sometimes for several months or even several years.
Now that I’m in my my mid-30s, I’m sick of dating. I’m sick of getting hurt. I’m sick of the broken promises. I’m sick of getting used. I’m sick of guys who say they are someone they really aren’t. I’m sick of feeling like a mom to immature guys who think they are men, but have no clue how to actually treat a woman.
And, above all, I’m sick of being disappointed... in others and in myself.
After my most recent breakup, which kicked off my year-long journey of being single, it’s time I do things differently.
I’ve been single since May 1st, 2020. Today is the official 90-day mark. I’ve learned a lot so far. But perhaps what has surprised me the most is that I’m now the happiest I’ve been in years.
(Yes, even during a year of the pandemic, struggling with several health issues, and making the choice to spend the rest of the year alone.)
In this blog, I will share how I have learned to love being single, the benefits of it, and what I’ve done to embrace the experience.
Learn to Love Being Single
The idea of being “unhappily single” or the need to be in a relationship to be happy is completely 100 percent untrue. This is merely a mindset. You can in fact learn to love being single.
Here are some real benefits to being single:
- More “Breathing Room”. You have the space, freedom, and breathing room to learn, rediscover, and love yourself. You honestly can’t love another person until you love yourself.
- More “You” Time. You have more time for yourself to do the things you love, or the things you forgot about, or even learn something new.
- Break Co-dependency. You have the opportunity to break any co-dependent habits. People who jump from relationship to relationship often struggle with co-dependency or emotional dependency issues. This relates to the (incorrect) mindset that “I need another person to be happy, to be ‘whole’, or accepted in society.”
Of course, this will require a mindset change and maybe a period of self-discovery, depending on who you are and your past experiences with relationships or even during childhood.
However, here are ways to achieve this that have worked for me:
Reclaim My Independence. I’ve always been an independent person. I’ve always made my own money. I paid for a large portion of my higher education. I bought my own house, cars, motorcycles, and so on. I’ve never needed a man to do anything or get me to where I want to go in life. Re-entering single life reminded me of that. And I was immediately happier to have my time and personal and physical space back.
Fall in Love with “Me” Time. The second thing that immediately made me happier was that I had all the time in the world to do what I want to do. And because my “Single for a Year” journey is more about personal and spiritual development and growth than anything else, I now spend my time alone in the evenings and on the weekends reading and writing.
I certainly miss the evenings wrapped up in the arms of a man in front of the TV, my “me” time is way better. There’s something about relaxing in the peace and quiet of my own home with a good book, a glass of whisky, and no phone that I look forward to every weekend.
I am also the type of person that loves having people around. However, I have also learned the importance of setting boundaries. I now protect my “me” time. I block off a few nights per week and a few hours on Sunday evenings specifically for this. I will admit that I used to worry that this was selfish, but over time, I’ve realized that making time for yourself is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health, and there’s nothing wrong with it.
Improve Physical Health. This year has been challenging for me, health wise. In May 2020, I was diagnosed with a serious yet treatable disease that has forced me to slightly alter my lifestyle and my diet.
Although it is entirely possible to eat healthy while being in a relationship with another—after all, each person is free to make his or her own choices regarding health and wellbeing regardless of what the other person chooses—it is easier to adjust my heating habits without listening to another person whine about ordering pizza for dinner six nights a week.
Improve Mental Health. The best part of not being in a relationship? Two words:
I’m not a woman who is overly-jealous, needy, or high maintenance. I’m actually a pretty cool girl. I have a lot of unique interests and hobbies that don’t involve spending a ton of money on clothes, shoes, or makeup (unless I’m scheduled to be in a performance), or caring about what my nails look like. I’m approachable, easy to get along with, and very laid back.
With that being said, I still want love, trust, and respect. So far, I’ve never had all three at the same time in any relationship. I’ve been cheated on, lied to, and physically and verbally abused. Over the years, these events have negatively impacted my mental and emotional health. It’s time for me to heal and repair all that before even thinking about another relationship.
And the best part? I can visit my friends, perform in shows or competitions, go on business trips, or take off for the day without worrying about someone cheating on me, hitting on my dance friends behind my back, or lying to me—or arguing at all.
Work on Home Improvement Projects. Even though it is horrible to watch someone you love and care for move out, there is also something very healing and fulfilling about cleaning, reorganizing, and becoming reacclimated with your space.
In addition to having more time, I’m now also more motivated to work on home projects, such as painting, landscaping, and other upgrades. In fact, working on my home always brings me joy.
Work in My Garage. In the spring of 2020, I made a pretty sizable investment. I purchased a pre-built garage. In fact, the day that the garage arrived was the around the same time that the former man in my life moved out. I remember thinking, “What am I going to do with a giant garage all by myself?”
Anything I want!
I now had my own space for my OWN car, my OWN motorcycle, and my OWN stuff.
No shuffling around another man’s crap to get to my own. No trying to find things. Just my own property, my own space, and my stuff. After all, I did pay for it…
I even went out and bought several toolkits. Even though I am the least mechanical person on the planet, by reclaiming my own space, I felt empowered to pick up a screwdriver and wrench (literally) and learn how to diagnose and fix things on my own (with what I can handle, anyways).
No, I’m not rewiring the entire house, because that would be a giant safety hazard for myself and everyone else in my neighborhood, but there is a sense of pride and confidence I’ve gained by learning things on my own without another person over my shoulder telling me how to do them, telling me I’m doing them wrong, or calling me stupid.
Who needs a man?
Exercise More. After recovering from surgery, I had to gain some weight back and rebuild muscle and my strength. By having more time to myself, I am able to freely get back to running and dance. Through this experience, I also discovered that I enjoy hiking.
During the last weekend in July, I went on a short bike trip through New England, and I actually discovered an old, defunct ski resort sitting dormant in the mountains of Stoneham, Maine.
For whatever creepy reason, I love exploring abandoned sites. There’s something eerie yet inspiring about them. If I had gone on that bike trip with anyone else, I highly doubt I would have even discovered it, because it would have been all about what the other person wanted to do.
Build My Business. In addition to exploring my own personal growth and development, I’ve also seen far more success with my own business. Because I’ve had more time to focus on my business, I’ve been able to expand our team, revamp our business model, finally launch our new website, and plan for the future.
In fact, the month of June 2020 was our best month ever, in terms of team building and expansion, acquiring new projects, the number of projects delivered, and total revenue.
Improve Self Esteem. Most people would say that being in a relationship gives them a confidence or self-esteem boost—not me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been dating the wrong guys, but being with someone hurts my self-esteem. I spend so much time and energy trying to look good for the other person, or worrying if I’m even enough for them.
Don’t get me wrong—there isn’t anything wrong with dressing up for another person, and I definitely enjoy doing this for the man I’m with. However, these days I worry less about what I wear, how much I weigh, and the size of my boobs. And if I dress up, I do it for me. I never tell myself I’m not enough, or that I’m anything less than a “10”.
Plan for the Future. Rather than waste my time and energy dwelling on and replaying what happened in my relationships, who was right or wrong and why, who was at fault, and how much everything hurt, I’ve learned to shift my thoughts on planning for a better future—one that includes further business growth, purchasing property, building my dream house on a lake, and just finding the corner of the world where I truly belong. I now find this goal-setting and future-planning experience fun, enjoyable, and exciting rather than overwhelming.
Making Room for the Smallest Amounts of Joy
All in all, my overarching goal during my “Single for a Year” plan is to become a confident person in relationships. I’m a confident woman in life, but fear, anxiety, and co-dependency take over when I’m in a relationship.
Furthermore, the days of dating the wrong guys—those who are weak, naive, immature, inexperienced, and selfish; abusive, cheaters, liars, and non-believers—are over. I’m done with all of that.
Above all, I’ve learned to be present in the moment. After all, life only exists in the moment. And if I’m always thinking or worrying about what I have to do next or what happens next, then I’ll miss out. This year has forced me to slow down, be present, and focus on what makes me truly happy—even the small things that give me the smallest amount of joy—to make more room for all of it.