I hit the big two-five a few months back. In reminiscing on a quarter of my life being over, I thought what better time to pull together a collection of my thoughts on what I have found from being in relationships, being single, and watching probably too many of my friends get stuck in toxic relationships that never panned out.
I am a pretty typical, college-educated working class twenty something. During high school, I had a girlfriend that I ended up dating for six years. Followed that up with a year or two of being single during college, and then dated another for two years post-grad. You could probably classify me more as a relationship guy than play-the-field guy. Nonetheless, I’ve amassed a decent amount of knowledge from those three major life events.
Time is the most valuable asset.
Stop spending time with people who are never going to pan out. Yes, I dated someone for six years, but outside of attraction and comfort, it wasn’t right. We got along just fine, but our values were polar opposites. Our social circles were consolidated into one so it was easy to keep going. It wasn’t until I found two or three things that were just never going to change that I knew it would never work. Cut your ties. Walk away. I know it’s tough thinking of all that has been invested going down the drain, but every minute you spend on something or someone is time that you could be spending elsewhere so make sure they are worthwhile.
People will do whatever they want.
The second most important lesson is that you cannot force people to be any different than who they really are. I’ve seen the most church-going folk be cheaters. Opposite of that, the people who are known to be rather promiscuous can be the most faithful in a relationship. At the end of the day, you can be selfish or jealous, but that person will, like any other person, make decisions daily that can affect not only their life, but also yours. If they decide to make a decision that could alter the entire relationship, then let it go. Get rid of the, “If you love something, let it go, and if it comes back, they were always yours. . .” mentality. It sucks. It’s tough when it happens, but if someone does not see enough in you to appreciate what you bring to the table, grab your table and get out.
Do whatever you want when you are single.
The most fun I’ve had in my life was when I was single in college, or as others call it, “playing the field.” It was like going into job interviews and the recruiters were all interested in offering you something. While it was nice having attention, the thing that I enjoyed the most was me-time. Not having to answer to someone and learning about who I really was and wanted to be. Recently I was on a date, and I enjoyed the confidence of the person. You could tell that she was sure of herself. You truly do have to know yourself and your needs before you can commit to someone else. So it may not be dating a bunch of people. It may be going on trips. Getting more education. Reading a book. Learning a new language. Do whatever you want. It won’t always be that simple.
You’ll know when you find the one.
I know what you’re thinking, “How would he know? The guy who clearly has trouble committing and seems to have experience in relationships not working is trying to tell me about the one.” Well, I have this bad habit of asking people, “How did you know s/he was the one?” Most of the time, I get a quick smile and long answer. That response is different for each person, but what is certain is that I’ve never experienced something that gets me as excited as when they tell me why. Trust me, I know it sucks to wait. We hit these milestones and we think we should be at a certain place at that point in time. Just let it go. Stop chasing the perfect person. Stop checking off boxes. The perfect person will walk right into your life with every quirk just the way you like it.
Toxicity and games = time to go.
I’d like to start off this final section by saying to most certainly go with your gut. If you are finding yourself constantly feeling down, waiting for someone to text you/call you, or don’t feel like yourself, it’s time to go. If your friends only hear from you about what is not going right, keep in mind their advice…they were your friends before the whole thing started. Negative energy from another person is just the opposite of what we look for in a significant other. When you aren’t happy and the person isn’t taking time each day to bring you up, it’s probably time to address why you are doing it in the first place. The “I am not going to text him/her” mentality is that of a single person stuck in a who-knows relationship. When you see games being played after some time being with someone, it should be a red flag. The point is when someone starts to tamper with the things that mean the most to you, set yourself free.
You don’t need someone else to love you. You can go and love yourself.