I went through phases in life where I would date without taking a breath in between.
It was the cool thing to do back then, to always have a boyfriend. Always have someone to text or call, someone to hold your hand in the school hallways, or go to the movies with on weekends.
It felt normal too. What didn’t feel normal was being single, and what made me fear singleness were my friends and society. When I was single, I felt as if I had some sort of scarlet letter imprinted on my forehead, S for Single.
One failed relationship after another, I decided to take a step back and reevaluate my life. What was I doing wrong? What was the core problem? Why couldn’t it work with the people I was with?
I decided to take a dating hiatus, and it was the best decision I ever made. I thrived in my single life. I changed my hair; my skin glowed, I lost weight and gained muscle from eating right and regularly attending the gym. I read more books, watched all of my favorite films, spent more time with my family, moved to Los Angeles, exposed myself to incredible opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have, and life was freaking great.
I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend when I met my current partner of nearly 3 years. I was so focused on myself and my goals that a man just seemed sort of — irrelevant to the phase of life that I was in.
I didn’t need one; I was living the good life.
The next few months leading up to my move to Los Angeles, my partner and I talked to each other every single day. We got to know one another; he also lived in LA, so I thought if anything — at least I would have one friend there.
When we first met in person, it was like that scene in romance movies. I saw his eyes, which were as green as pine trees, and his smile warm. I was instantly smitten. I can now confidently say he’s The One, and I remember going home that night thinking this was already more than just a friendship.
While I may not have been writing online a few years ago, I did keep a pretty detailed journal. So, let’s go back in time and see what questions I asked myself before getting into a relationship with my forever person.
Am I ready?
Relationships are f****** hard — even the ones that often look like smooth sailing have their struggles.
I know that I’m done dating for fun; despite being young, I feel like I already know what I want, and that consists of a serious relationship that will eventually lead to marriage.
Am I truly ready for that? Am I ready to commit my time and energy to someone? Am I ready to invest in learning and understanding how another human being works? Am I ready to give my heart, mind, and body to someone?
Are there things in my life that require my undivided attention? Would another human being distract me from my goals and aspirations?
So many of us rush into relationships without taking these things into consideration. Instead of rushing, slow down and ask yourself, are you truly ready for this?
Do I want to fall in love with someone, or am I just lonely and looking for attention?
I’ve been single for a while now, so am I truly into this individual and ready to commit to them, or am I just lonely?
Do I just want someone to hold me at night? Someone to take me out to an occasional dinner? Is what I’m feeling lust or true affection?
I’m in a new city. I don’t know anyone outside of my roommates, I’ve met some people at the gym, but I don’t know — I don’t feel lonely. In fact, I love my own company. I don’t know if that makes me shallow, but I remember reading a quote a few years ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since, “I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.”
I feel good when I spend time with this individual. I don’t feel alone without him, and I don’t feel alone when I’m with him either, something that I knew women often feel when they’re with partners who refuse to give them their undivided attention.
I don’t want attention; I don’t go to bed sad or frustrated that I spent the whole day at a cafe with a book. I always said that the next man I give my love to would have to be better than the company of a good book and cup of coffee, so is this it?
When considering a new relationship, it’s important to differentiate whether you’re doing it because you genuinely want to be with the person, or you’re just lonely and looking for a bit of company. It’s okay if it’s the latter, but be honest with yourself.
Do I know what I want?
All of my exes have taught me exactly what I don’t want in a partner. And, being single has allowed me to dive head-first into learning more and more about who I am, what I want out of life, and what I want for myself.
I have a good idea of the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. My partner might not look exactly how I pictured him (I’ve always liked the dark and mysterious type), but he acts and treats me exactly how I pictured him to be.
I used to dream that my forever person would be exactly like me, same style, same taste, similar personality, dark hair, slightly brooding — but instead, I’ve met this phenomenal, open, charismatic, light-haired, and green-eyed man who makes me feel safe and adored.
Sometimes we get so caught up daydreaming of the perfect life, perfect person, perfect job — whatever it may be, and we completely bypass that what’s truly meant for us is right under our nose. Usually, it trumps our dreams because life, the universe — God knows exactly what we need.
Does this person align with my morals and values?
This is so big for me; everyone I’ve dated before has been a mismatch. It’s like I blacked out and agreed to the relationship without asking if they’re even going in the same direction as I am.
I used to think that liking the same activities or movies meant we were the same. My ex-boyfriend loved musicals. How often do you come across a man who will sit through Phantom of the Opera and Sweeney Todd with you without complaining?
I’ve learned that I had it all wrong; you have to dig deep. You have to ask things like, do they have the same core values as you? Is religion a priority for them? It is for me, so of course, it has to be for him. Well, what about respect? How does he treat authoritative figures? How does he treat servers? How does he view the world? Does he want the same things as I do?
Does he want kids? Would he be a good father? Would I trust him to teach our kids right from wrong? And do our right and wrongs align?
When we reach a disagreement, how will he respond towards me if I’m saying it’s option B when he thinks it’s C? Is he capable of compromise? Am I willing to compromise?
When you meet someone initially, everything seems good. You date for a bit, and the honeymoon phase is sweeter than honey. You think it’s meant to be, so you claim that it is, and you make all of these permanent decisions without first asking yourself, do we complement one another? do we value the same things? do we want the same things out of life and for ourselves?
Do I love myself?
If there’s anything I’ve learned during my single life, it’s that self-love is everything.
I didn’t understand how to care for someone until I started taking care of myself. I didn’t know how to treat someone with respect and affection until I learned how to treat myself and my body with respect and affection.
I remember the hate I had for myself; I remember the self-loathing and the anger I had. Nothing I did was ever good enough; my body was never good enough, I never felt smart enough or pretty enough. I never felt enough of anything, for that matter.
Self-love obliterated all of that. For the last few years that I’ve spent — learning how to love myself, I’ve woken up with a love and appreciation for my life. I used to feel like I was just another human being going through the motions; now, I feel like an empowered woman with purpose and intention.
So do I? Do I love myself? Do I feel whole? Or am I trying to cover up the broken parts of me with someone else?
You can’t love someone else without truly learning how to love yourself first.
I think it’s important to ask yourself these questions before getting into a relationship with someone.
Being single, being truly single, and giving yourself the time and attention that you deserve to get to know yourself, build your confidence, improve on your weaknesses and strengths will set you up for so much success in every aspect of your life.
Sometimes, the answers to these questions will surprise you. Maybe you’ll realize that yes, you’re 100% ready, and the person you want to be with is the one you’re meant to be with. Other times, your answers will surprise you, and you’ll think maybe it wasn’t the right fit after all.
But, remember, just because it’s not happening now doesn’t mean it won’t happen eventually. You’re getting closer, and it’s always better to be certain of your choice rather than diving in and then getting your heart broken.