It has been 4 years since my last relationship. I have dated in this time but nothing too serious. I have lived alone for the past three years and I feel doing so, more then anything else, has taught me more about myself then ever before. There are all the reasons that every dating guru, therapist and friend will give you for being a happy single gal, so I know I don't need to give another rundown of that list. What I will tell you is what I have learned from this four year period about love, and myself:
I like my stuff the way it is. My closet is organized by item and color. Pants, shirts, and dresses are all grouped together in color groups from light to dark. My drawers are obscenely organized and so are my cleaning products. Yup, I organize my cleaning products, towels, and hair products...judge me all you want, but it's my "thing". Incorporating someone else into my space, and into my "thing" takes a lot of work. For the past four years, that is work I have not been willing to do and it has taught me the fine art of compromise. I've always thought I was so good at compromise and that I was willing to compromise in relationships, but I was really compromising to keep my partner happy, not myself. Compromise should be about both of you, not be one-sided. For the past four years, I have been very one-sided.
I crave quiet time. I grew up with my sister, brother and my parents. I shared a room with my sister my entire life, then had a college roommates, moved back home, got my own place, met my ex and almost immediately moved in with him, moved back home (post break-up), and moved back out again. I got tired just writing all of that! Anyway, outside of the ten months I spent in my first apartment, the past three years have been just me, myself and I and it has felt amazing. I write, I read, I do pretty much everything in a quiet and calm existence. While I do adore my quiet life, I had built up a pretty big wall around myself and I have been breaking it down for the past six months. There's no reason for the future love of my life to have to carry around a rope and try to climb over my wall of protection MacGyver style.
I don't want to share my remote. There are certain television shows that I am really into, and by really I mean watch obsessively like True Blood, Newsroom, any Food Network cooking show, and almost all home improvement shows. Then, there are the cartoons that I love like Family Guy and American Dad. When I am at my parents house, they almost never watch television together in the same room. When I asked them each why they do this even when they're watching the same shows they both pretty much gave me the same answers: "I don't like the volume that high", "I like to change channels during commercials", "I like to watch this show and your mom likes to watch that show". This may be connected my first point about compromise, but can also be about plain old selfishness. I have definitely been selfish over the past few years with my emotions and my heart. I'm literally unwilling to let anyone receive my emotional love and attention, or get anywhere near my heart. Love can never come to a closed heart.
I am not at all complaining about being single or living alone because I have chosen to live my life this way, but what I am saying is there is a difference between being happily single, and closing yourself off to love. Most people end up doing the latter and I became one of them. In my need to maintain my single status and independence, I unknowingly closed myself off to love in the process! You can be independent, fabulous, fun and in a relationship or be all all of those things while single. There is absolutely nothing sad about being single, as being single teaches you so much about yourself including your wants and needs. I refuse to settle for what I do not want, and I also know what I need to work on within my own self so that when he (whoever he is) comes along, I am ready. Relationships involve compromise, letting your guard down and opening up emotionally. They require the ability to grow with someone and bring your two separate lives together, while maintaining your independence at the same time, and luckily I've had four years to learn these lessons.
What lessons have you learned in love? What has being single, in a relationship, divorced, or married taught you about love?
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