Being Alone Is Okay

Man by himself
Todd Quackenbush

I shouldn’t date right now.

Recently I met a nice attractive female who I planned to go on a date with. We arranged a day to go walk her bosses puppies on a trail. The day came and I was feeling “too tired”, so I took a rain check. A few days later, when we were supposed to go, I ditched again after work. We rescheduled. That day came around and I felt no desire to go on a date with this individual. Not because she isn’t a good potential mate/date, but because I am in no stable place to date at this time.

In a few months, I will be moving away and I will have to say goodbye to another good girl. I would rather not waste my time or hers. It is better for me to stay completely single and selfish focusing on myself until I am in a place where I can provide for a mate. I imagine many millennial’s may have similar experiences.

Looking Back

I have consistently dated girls since I was about 16-17 years old. Around that age I discovered that my physical appearance was very important in attracting females. I became “popular” because I stayed physically fit, oh and my parents would go out of town so I would throw parties. Yay for utility friendships. I realize now that I attracted females, but I was never seriously trying to date, sometimes I just fell into it because the women were the pursuers.

In doing so, I ended up breaking a lot of hearts and never being satisfied with a potential mate because I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing. Even when I was consistently dating, I always felt that something was missing. What was it? I ask that in retrospect in order to understand and reflect on the situation.

I now realize that I was what was missing. I never truly engaged who I was dating. I was not present in all of the relationships I pursued. I was only half in/ half out on most of my relationships. Up until a particular one happened and I was totally involved. I actually felt true feelings for an organic relationship and I was so confused, because feelings are confusing if you have never had them for someone and then you realize BAM, you love someone. It is strange. Well, long story short; I really fucked that one up. Not only did I crush the girl I was involved with, but I was absolutely devastated. I never even got to say those three little words. Looking back, it wasn’t that serious of a mistake, but I definitely could have done something different, like not told the truth, right? Just kidding, I may do some messed up things sometimes, but you won’t catch me lying about them. A realistic change would be to not consume as much alcohol as I did and the problem is solved.

I am over this girl, and she is currently happily married. I am very happy for her. From that moment in life until the past few years, I have been completely hard on and critical of myself. Often times, this critical analysis is projected onto others and I hold them to the same standards I hold myself, and this is not at all fair. I make it very difficult for myself to develop organic relationships because I am hard on myself. I have recently learned to relax this standard, but old habits die hard. It is a work in progress.

During this time from my first heart break to recent years, I would bring some girls close enough to shut them down hard because I was lonely and I felt as if I had someone in my life then I would feel better about the past heartbreak. I never took the time to assess myself and the actual situation at hand. So I continued to try to bring girls just close enough, but not too close because I did not want to, for lack of better words, fuck shit up.

So, can you guess what happened?

I brought a few girls close. And you could say I fucked shit up. With every single one. Maybe not completely, but for the most part, my insecurities rubbed off on them and I ruined a potentially blossoming relationship because I never took the time to do some introspection and provide clarity as to why I act the way I act. I never took the time to truly provide myself with crucial alone time that would allow me to live without confusing feelings and discover what I am truly made of in order to provide more for someone else.

The most recent relationship I was in started off shortly after the one I ruined due to a bad decision, and it was a roller coaster from the start. We were on and off, up and down, stop and go. All because of me. I was the runner, her, the chaser.

I was never satisfied and she just wanted me. Our love started off toxic from the beginning and it was because I was insecure. Insecure because I never understood why I was insecure. Insecure because I never took the time to reflect on mistakes and understand what I needed to do to ensure it would never happen again. I simply jumped into something that made me feel wanted and comfortable. Ultimately, our relationship ended after years of being on and off.

After years of some good times, but also years of heartbreak and disappointment at my hand. After years of destroying each other. After years of repeating the same things over and over and feeling absolutely insane. But isn’t that what love is? Am I being hard on myself? Maybe a little, but looking back, I fucking sucked, but I had found a girl who always put up with my insecurities out of pure desire for my happiness and she enabled me from advancing past this insecurity because she never held me accountable for my actions, so I would do like any addict does and repeat them, over and over again. I literally had to physically leave home in order to stop the downward spiral and toxic cycle that was us. I had to remove myself from her life if I wanted her to be happy because for whatever reason, I was not capable. Sometimes love just isn’t enough in order to make a relationship work. Then comes the cliché question; what is love?

Looking Present

Flash forward to age 28, I am realizing it is okay to take time, date no one, and be truly alone. Of course friendships are welcomed and encouraged, but dating is no longer a necessity. By doing this, I am able to discover more about myself without feeling the need to have a mate in order to feel complete in life. It is okay to be alone. In doing so, an individual can be an individual. You can learn an abundance of information about yourself by not having a S/O in your life. I am not saying that dating is bad at all. I find it very fun and entertaining. I am saying that if you are wondering why it never works out with someone, or you just aren’t satisfied with anyone or you are insecure about something, then it would benefit you to take a few months to find out what you can do on your own.

I encourage things like reflection and understanding, writing, going on a solo trip, living abroad, getting into nature, putting your phone down, reading more, getting in touch with old friends, spending time with your family, getting in the best shape of your life, developing new hobbies, developing a morning routine, advancing in your career, volunteering, setting challenges for yourself, learning about your family history, learning new habits, learning how to fix something that breaks, etc. I could go on and on.

But, when you start to do things on your own, and get away from toxic relationships (that you or others have caused), you begin to see them for what they were; a lesson. A lesson that teaches you the most valuable life lessons. Life lessons that hurt to think about, hurt to realize, but the hurt allows for healing and moving on. You might even find yourself stumbling across this mythical “soul mate” that many people believe exists. I am slightly skeptical.

Looking Forward

Now where does one go when they realize they need to be alone for a while? What is there to live for if not for someone else? How about the short and obvious answer; yourself. Get away from others. Meet new people. Embarrass yourself. Learn more. BE SELFISH! I encourage being selfish when you are alone and discovering more about yourself. This selfishness will allow you to take time learning more, when you learn more, you are actually building yourself up for your future. Not only are you building your future day in and day out with grinding life lessons, but you are creating space for your future potential mate. You are allowing yourself to understand your capabilities so you know what you are capable of providing for someone in the future. You are discovering what you want in your life, and what you are willing to compromise in order to provide for that mate. By being selfish now, you are creating space to be selfless later.

I had a friend ask me recently, “But, don’t you want to get married?” To which I responded, “If I get married, then I get married and have a family, if not then I travel more and help people in need.” Either way is a win-win.

This is the chapter of my life where I am completely fine with being alone. I am discovering a plethora of information about myself. I am learning how to organize it in order to use it for my future. I am learning what I love to do. I am attempting to do things I have never done before. I am putting my ego aside and admitting I do not know it all, but I want to learn more. I want to learn more for myself, and for the future I am creating space for. I know sometimes it is a struggle, but there is strength in the discovery. Strength in the struggle…and low key, I am loving every minute of it.

One last thing: I encourage you to never settle. Compromise is good, but never ever EVER settle. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog