People talk all the time about what they look for in a relationship, the many deal-breakers, standards, and ideal qualities they want their significant other to have. In many cases, however, I think it is much of what happens prior to getting into a relationship that determines the quality of that relationship. I think the most significant standard you can uphold, is the standard within yourself, from which all other standards will emanate.
There is so much to be gained from taking the time to invest in your own self-discovery, fulfillment, and growth. I know a lot of people (in my experience, women in particular – largely due to society’s double standard on how singleness is perceived between men and women) who place this constant pressure on themselves to find someone, and in most cases it is exhausting and ineffective. I also think it can be blinding. It minimizes the value in a relationship of substance to just the superficial prize of being able to say, “I’m in a relationship.” It promotes the notion that to be single is to be lonely, and that you are worth more if you’re with someone. It reduces a person into a half a person – incomplete until fulfilled by his/her other half.
I will never want a relationship more than I want all the standards of a strong connection, so I will never settle for the former if I don’t have the latter. And I will never want or need to be “completed” by someone; I am already complete. A relationship with someone should be significant and wonderful because they add laughter and love and support to your life – because they expand your mind and challenge you emotionally and intellectually and make you feel beautiful internally and externally – because you can go on adventures together, embrace the vulnerability and beauty that comes with intimacy, and take joy in sharing in the love and laughter already in each other’s lives. All of my closest friendships and relationships in my life are a constant reminder of how the best connections are between complete people – that is ultimately a far more fulfilling relationship, it is a celebration of differences and similarities and the electrifying beauty and complexity of human connection.
If you enter into a relationship with the mentality that you are dependent on it for your self-value and in order to feel complete, then it is destined to deteriorate, or worse yet, to consume you. It’s easy to get lost in another person if you don’t know who you are going into it, which is why it’s incredibly important to take the time to become comfortable and confident with yourself, before making someone else your priority. Prioritizing other people isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can become one if it is a practice that requires your constant self-sacrifice.
Furthermore, you will get so much more out of a relationship if you know who you are; this is true of all types of relationships and interpersonal connections. Relationships are at their best when both people are fully comfortable being themselves, utterly in their element, and able to fully shine. That’s a lot more light than when you’re stifling who you are in an effort to be who you think someone wants you to be. Not to mention, that is an exhausting and depressing act to maintain. If you have embraced who you are and taken the time to develop that self-awareness, you will be able to bring an exuding, effortless confidence and happiness with you wherever you go, including into a relationship, which will make it a much more mutually wonderful experience.
What’s more, if you know who you are, and love who you are, you are far less likely to find yourself in a relationship with someone who doesn’t appreciate you and show you the respect you deserve. It’s hard to gauge that and enforce it as a standard if you are murky on it yourself. The best way to be unfalteringly adamant about your standards is to practice them with yourself. We always hear people say “treat others as you would like to be treated,” which is true, but in addition to that you should treat yourself as you would like others to treat you – for the simple reason that you deserve it. You nurture that mentality and you will grow your self-respect and an assurance in who you are, both of which are immeasurable assets.
Finally, don’t let external factors convince you that “being alone” equates with loneliness, and don’t let the notion of loneliness hold you hostage. Take the time to explore your passions, to nourish your curiosities, to embrace your idiosyncrasies, to build friendships, to think introspectively, to establish trust with yourself, until you find yourself ready to celebrate how dope you are. Then you will realize, you’re damn good company, which makes you better able to engage with yourself and others.
I really believe that a lot of people suffer from the stigma of aloneness more so than actual loneliness; do not relinquish the reigns of your emotions to society’s shallow ideals. Don’t let who you are be diminished or defined by your relationship status. You are so much more than that; we all are, or at least we all ought to be, and can be if we don’t confine ourselves to one facet of our exceptional existence. We each owe it to ourselves to make an effort to become our best self. So take advantage of the time you have to let yourself fully blossom; you will be better off for it in all ways. It can do nothing but affirm and strengthen your knowledge of what you want, and add to your growth, your confidence, and your happiness – and that real, deeply rooted happiness that comes from an internal source will be with you wherever you go, whatever relationship you may or may not find yourself in.