Lately, I’ve been hearing some people lamenting their relationship statuses. It’s usually something along the lines of being sad that they’ve been single for so long, or the fact that all the people they’ve been talking to on dating apps aren’t showing any interest in them. It’s the same old “ugh, I’m gonna be single forever” shtick that people often perform to gain sympathy from those who most likely feel differently.
After 8 years of being single, and having just about every self-doubt-related thought in the span of those years, I’m kind of over this mentality.
Look, I understand the basic desire to be in a relationship. A lot of us naturally crave that special kind of attention, and a lot of us feel like it will make a major improvement in our quality of life. I’d be lying if I said didn’t feel that way. However, there’s a line between wanting that kind of attention, and being desperate for it. When I first came out as gay in high school, I was the thirstiest I had ever been for a relationship, and it made me attracted to people who I now realize would be wildly incompatible with me, and would probably have brought my already low self-esteem even lower. I then ended up in a relationship with a really nice guy, but the spark for me was because it was a relationship, not because of him.
This relationship taught me that I should be more discerning about the guys I get involved with romantically, because both people in the relationship should be feeling the spark. Since then, I’ve been on many dates, some that were an instant no, some that seemed like they could have gone further (but didn’t), and some that were in between that tiny spectrum, and you know what? I’m okay with the fact that none of them worked out. Of course, I still have my insecurities telling me that it’ll be this way for the rest of my life, but I’ve learned to not let these dumb, nagging voices get the best of me when I’m trying to get involved with someone. Does it always work? Not really, but I’m still learning, and I at least know how to start that conversation with myself when the anxieties about dating start to get too loud.
And honestly, I feel better than I used to. I still get anxious just because I sometimes like a person so much, that I never want have any doubts about whether or not they like me back. Unfortunately, that may not ever stop, because anxieties can be unapologetically ruthless, no matter how soundly you rationalize against them. However, when you get right down to it, what’s the worst that can happen if your anxieties about the person you’re trying to date are right? What if it turns out the person you’ve been seeing for a month or two winds up saying they’re not into you? Honestly, the thing you do from there is move on and find someone who doesn’t make you so damn anxious. Sure, you may feel some pain for a bit, especially if you really liked them, but at least you’d (hopefully) be moving on to someone who actually makes you feel worth-while.
The thing is, dating in general isn’t easy. It requires some work, and that work isn’t easy. It demands a pretty deep sense of self, and a strong willingness to express your emotions. Dating someone is attempting to bring them into a significant portion of your life, and you can’t expect that person to just know what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it, and how they can help if you’re not able to communicate those feelings to them. You can’t have a healthy relationship if you don’t know yourself enough to establish what will work for you, and compromise with the other person who has their own feelings about it, as well. It’s basically as RuPaul says. “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love someone else?” You have to love yourself enough to be open with someone you’re romantically interested in, to really tell them what it is you need from them, before you can treat their feelings with the same amount of tenderness.
If that doesn’t sound easy, then, well, you’re right. It’s not. The things that are most rewarding in life often take a lot of work.
But at the same time, relationships shouldn’t feel like work. When it’s ideal, or pretty damn close to it, it should all feel so fluid, so easily done, that every step you take together feels like it was meant to happen. It shouldn’t be a game of guessing the other person’s stance on the possible relationship, and doubting that it will go anywhere. If the person you’re interested in can’t express in some way that they’re in awe of just how brilliant and inspired you are as a human being, and if they ever make you doubt that, then move on. You don’t have time to waste on people who make you feel insignificant.
Is some really hot guy on a dating app ignoring you? Find another one to message. Is the next one making it really hard to talk to him because he only knows how to respond with one word? Tell him “bye, Felicia.” Are they not showing any interest in where you’re going with your life? Gurl, get outta there. You are too beautiful and important to waste your time on someone who makes you feel like anything less. Your time is too precious to be spent trying to convince them of something that should be massively apparent. You have plenty of time to find someone who will cherish all of the significant aspects of you, but you don’t have all the time in the world to be dragged down by those who want to ignore them.
Expect them to treat you in a way that validates who you are, and where you’re going, but be emotionally available to give them the same. You can’t expect someone to join in on your journey through life if you’re not willing to lead them through it. That’s not to say that you’re not allowed to stumble, or get lost along the way, but they need a reason to want to be on that path with you, in the first place.
Being single is an important step to being in a relationship. Taking the time to learn who you are before becoming romantically involved with someone will help you understand yourself, which is so crucial to being there for a significant other. Learn who you are, what you like in a partner, what you’re passionate about, what makes you happy, and what you’d need out of a relationship before you truly decide to get yourself into something serious. Really, though. Get to know yourself as much as possible. Get to know yourself even deeper than that list that I provided, because you have to live with yourself more than you’ll ever end up living with whomever you’re trying to date. In addition to that, make yourself aware that you’re important, beautiful, and worthy of love, and it will become so much easier to recognize when others also see that in you. It does take work, but so does a healthy, sustainable relationship. That work just becomes much easier when you love yourself enough to communicate in a way that helps both of you strengthen that bond.