Growing up, I was always the girl who had a boyfriend. My life seemed to consist around a boy, and when it didn’t work out, I’d almost instantly meet someone else. My friends joked I was a serial monogamist – that I didn’t understand how to be alone.
When you’re seventeen and hormones are raging, becoming a bit boy crazy is understandable. What else is there to do, really?
But there came a point during my twenties when this pattern of bouncing from one man to another started showing its downside.
I was so busy loving someone else, I had no idea who I was.
I knew myself as a partner, as a girlfriend. And I was a good one. But that was just one aspect of who I was, yet I was allowing it to be my entire identity.
I went through a really terrible break up when I had this realization. One of the painful (but honest) reasons he wanted the split was because he was afraid I was pouring all my time and energy into him and would eventually resent him. At the time, I was devastated. How could he think that? I loved him and this is what you do when you’re in love.
But he was right. I hadn’t ever developed a sense of who I was alone, and that was a problem.
I spent the next two years totally single. Sure, I went on a few dates every now and then and may have drunkenly made out at a bar once or twice. But on the whole, I was utterly alone.
At first, it was terrifying. I hated it. I had to sit with my own thoughts and there was no one else I could use as a distraction. I ended up facing insecurities that had always been there, I’d just ignored them for so long. I had to learn who I was, what was important to me, what scared me, etc.
I started going to dinner by myself. And here’s a tip, don’t be embarrassed to ever do something by yourself. If you, like I did, think anyone is going to look at you and judge – trust, they’re not. We’re more consumed with what we look like than anyone else ever is. They really won’t think twice. And you might be surprised by how liberating it is.
I’m now in a committed, wonderful relationship that for a while I really didn’t think was possible. We’re on the same page with the big stuff – value system, long-term goals. But we also have our own stuff. We have a life together and apart, and that is SO important.
Being alone taught me to stop always putting myself second. I’m allowed to be a priority too.