” Sit down somewhere for a minute. Just date for a while. Hang out and just chill. Test the waters, see what’s out there.” These are all things my siblings said to me after my last relationship ended in less than a year. Oh, we were together a little longer than that, mind you. But it was over way before we parted.
See my siblings knew that I’d jumped into it too soon after my divorce. And pretty-much everybody knew this person wasn’t really right for me. But that’s where people often find themselves when they embark on a new relationship too soon after the last one ended.
What’s too soon? Well, if you’re looking for a time-frame I can’t answer that for you. But I knew after my last relationship ended I was going to have to be single until I knew I was really ready for another relationship. And all I knew about how to tell when that time had arrived was something I’d read somewhere. It said simply that you must get to a point where you can be content being alone.
You see somewhere between 16 and my early 20’s I decided to dub myself a “relationship kinda guy”. Even at that early age I’d pretty-much convinced myself I couldn’t be really fulfilled or content without one special person in my life. I’d tried playing around for a minute, but it wasn’t my style. I didn’t enjoy it. Which of course only strengthened my belief that I had to be in a relationship.
But now I was in front of the mirror looking at a guy approaching 50 at the time my last relationship ended, and still doing the same thing. I’d already seen a 16 year marriage go down the toilet, followed by another relationship that also failed.
“I don’t have a lot of time left to keep screwing this up”, I thought to myself. The next relationship I entered would have to be the real thing. So I decided to just stay single for a while. My goal was to get to a place where I was content just doing my thing, alone.
But the more time I spent “out of a relationship” the easier it got, and the more I liked it. Understand, I still believed I was a relationship guy. But the more time I spent alone the more I understood that being in one isn’t MANDATORY. When I finally understood this it was for me just like that moment I put on prescribed classes for the first time. Such clarity! I had no idea how blurry my vision was before. Over time it changed my perspective and taught me the difference in what I “want” and what I really need in a lifelong mate.
Mind you, I thought I already had my head wrapped around that pretty well. But when you think you MUST be with somebody to be happy that desire to “be with somebody” often clouds your judgement. For me it made me ignore red flags I normally wouldn’t budge on. Glaring, neon red flags. But when you think you have to be linked to someone as soon as possible you’ll justify all kinds of things; all in the name of what you think is compromising.
Overall it took a good 3 years for me to get to that place I had to get to. And when I did get back out there and start dating again things were really different. Apparently if you spend enough time alone God installs a discernment upgrade or something. Suddenly I could see right through people. I often knew on the first date the person wasn’t right for me. And if I didn’t know instantly I knew in a few weeks.
So in short here are 3 truths spending 3 years being deliberately single taught me.
1. You Ain’t Just Gotta Be In A Relationship
I did a lot of stuff I didn’t think I could do while I was single. Like spending major holidays alone. Going out to dinner or the movies alone. Then of course there was that whole “not having sex” thing (yes, you have to do that too). That’s always a bit unpleasant, LOL!
But honestly, the sex is just like everything else. Doing without it for a while just shows you that you didn’t really just HAVE to have it in the first place. And once you suddenly realize you can be happy without something you thought you HAD to have- in fact try SEVERAL things you thought you had to have- there’s a lot of freedom in that. A lot of power that you were giving away is suddenly yours again.
But the point is I did it all. And not only did it not kill me, I started to enjoy it after a while.
2. Male Or Female, You’re Both Worth And Entitled To As Much As Anyone Else
Being alone for a while definitely gives you a better sense of your own self-worth. This is especially true for men, whom society has told all our lives that we were basically placed here to kiss the asses of women, and be glad for the privilege.
Often good, honest, God-fearing, women-respecting men end up thinking that being a good man means you must reduce yourself to being nothing more than a servant for some woman in a relationship. Provider. Protector. Fixer of things. That’s it. You aren’t entitled to anything else. Certainly not any of the things women want and need in a relationship.
And even though most women are taught to value themselves all their lives, many still spend most of their lives never really “getting it”. If you’re not careful you can completely lose yourself in the process of trying to make someone else happy, simply because you think it’s either that or be alone. Spend enough time alone though and you finally understand that compared to a life being unhappy and unfulfilled, a life alone ins’t such a bad choice. You’ve done it, you can do it again. And do so as long as it takes to find someone that will treat you like you treat them. Try going on a date armed with that bit of wisdom. It’s different, that’s for sure.
3. There’s A Difference Between Compromising And Settling
I’ll say right off the bat here, that some people will never get this, no matter how long they stay single. And it’s sad too, because some of y’all are old as hell to not have figured this out by now. But that’s another blog entirely.
The truth is though, if you weren’t already a self-centered ass-hole to begin with, being single for a while will really help you finally understand the difference in “settling” and “compromising”. Because in addition to making you see and think more clearly, being alone for a while really matures you. Especially if you’re old enough to be thinking about marriage and spending the rest of your life with someone.
I could go down a long list but it would be my list, not yours. I’m talking about reaching a level where you can quickly categorize traits about people you’re dating into one or the other of those two categories and do so intelligently and accurately. And when you’re sitting across a dinner table from someone armed with that kind of wisdom, self-worth and power it’s a lot harder to make the same mistakes you made before. Not impossible (if they fine enough many of us will still let some stuff slide we wouldn’t accept normally, lol), but a lot harder.
So there ya go. I’m no relationship expert by any means. But having spent a half-century trying it both ways, I can make a pretty good argument for spending an extended period of time single before getting into another relationship. And I have a beautiful woman tailor-made for me by God wearing my ring right now as proof that it works. So, as my sister told me, “sit down somewhere”, and just be single for a while.