You must truly love yourself before you can afford to let someone else love you. So let's get acquainted. I am 38 years old, still single, and have lived on my own - with the exception of a few short and not serious relationships - for most of my adult life.
And yet, as a grown-up person who has chosen a single life for herself- and, moreover, enjoys it - I am faced with the constant need to justify my choice. Everyone, without exception, is trying to put me under pressure. I have to make "excuses" to my new friends, who on the second or even on the first date will certainly ask me why I decided to live the way I do. I have also been under pressure from friends who have long been married and settled down, and now at every meeting they ask me if I really intend to remain single until my death.
And faced with all this pressure, I ask myself the same questions over and over again:
But why should I even make excuses for being single?
Is it generally normal that our society sees romantic relationships and the marriage that follows them as an indicator of "success", without which your life is incomplete?
Shouldn't we also judge the desire to marry as harshly as the desire to remain single?
It seems to me that modern society is putting too much pressure on single people, trying to get them to enter into a permanent relationship. The result of this pressure is often that these people do enter into relationships based on rarely met expectations.
By the time we get to the final thoughts of this article, I hope I will manage to convince you that there is no shame in deciding to remain single - as well as in deciding that married life is better for you. The main thing here is that your decision should be yours, and not be the result of external pressure, as a result of which we begin to see our life as "wrong" and begin to try to fix it in order to better meet other people's expectations.
Let's start by taking a closer look at the myth of "romantic love."
THE MYTH OF "ROMANTIC LOVE"
Western civilization is literally mesmerized by the idea of so-called "romantic love". We grow up reading fairy tales, books and films that in our minds create a collective image of a "madly in love couple" walking hand in hand on a white beach, illuminated by the rays of the setting sun. The guy picks up the girl in his arms, she gently presses against his chest, and then they kiss. And, of course, then they live happily ever after.
I won't argue that the idea of romantic love is very attractive. Romantic love instantly evokes in our minds the image of pure and emotional closeness that we feel when passion for another person lifts us "above" our animal sexual desires. Romantic love is represented in our consciousness in the form of boundless and infinitely deep pure passion that unites lovers in a truly divine union.
I admit it is a very, very beautiful idea. But...have you ever wondered where it came from?
In fact, the concept of romantic love has not existed at all since the beginning of time, as they are trying to convince us of this. Most likely, it is no more than 250 years old.
Of course, people got married and lived together before, but they did it for much more pragmatic reasons. They did not expect to find unearthly happiness in marriage. It was a partnership made for joint survival and procreation.
Of course, a partnership based on feelings of romantic love is quite possible. And it’s likely that you have even experienced something similar yourself. But you should not deceive yourself by convincing yourself that this is the norm, and all your relationships, with whoever they start, will be like that. It is far more likely that only a small percentage of romantic relationships are successful by romantic love standards. But... in fact, why should this be a problem?
The romantic relationships that we create in the modern world are not at all "inferior" and "problematic". Rather, the problem is that the society has made the romantic love a standard by which we measure the success of personal relationships.
The specter of romantic love is an absolutely unrealistic standard that we nevertheless strive for, and we get upset when real relationships clearly do not reach it. So I decided to accept the fact that true romantic love is almost impossible to find and focus on other types of emotional relationships that make my life fulfilling and complete.
SINGLES CAN BE ROMANTIC, TOO
Trying to understand why someone might prefer a single life, and after reading this article, you might think that I am a little disappointed in love, and that I am not interested in romance.
This could not be further from the truth.
The truth is, I don’t judge the success of my relationship by unrealistic standards of romantic love, and I’m not in a rush to tie the knot and have many children just because society has decided that it should be. But I love experiencing romantic moments, whether in my more or less long-term relationships, or just the wonderful moments with people who have recently entered my life.
This is one of the reasons why I have decided to remain single for now. I would love to experience true romantic love, but I am well aware that most relationships, even with very good people, simply do not live up to these idealistic standards.
I know that full-fledged, monogamous and legal relationships with most of the potential partners available to me, most likely, will not bring me those longed-for romantic feelings that we all secretly dream of. By remaining single, I remain realistic, but at the same time, I am open to romantic love, if I ever get the chance.
It's just that I don't want to chase an illusion. I'm more interested in real things and the fullness of emotional connections. Remaining single, I stand with both feet on the ground.
It seems to me that people who prefer to remain single and not bind themselves in a relationship with the first more or less good person they come across just because “it should be so”, in the depths of their souls have come to terms with the fact that for the most part romantic love is nothing more than an illusion and myth. They are quite ready for real romantic love, if they are lucky enough to experience it, but they perfectly understand that the chances of this are extremely small.
In order to have a romantic relationship with a permanent partner, to be faithful to them, to learn to love them in any situation and in any mood, and to stay with them, no matter what happens, you need to be truly mature emotionally.
But doesn't it take the same emotional maturity to realize how difficult it is to feel truly fulfilled in a romantic relationship?
A romantic relationship is not something that happens to us magically and effortlessly. No, this is first and foremost hard work. People enter into romantic relationships with a whole bunch of different expectations, most of which are very, very difficult to meet. In a real romantic relationship, you stand naked in front of your partner emotionally, revealing to them all your mistakes and flaws, and, of course, you must accept their flaws too.
As a single person, I have the freedom I need to focus on personal growth and self-awareness. I have the space I need in order to truly get to know myself and understand what I want from my life. I have the opportunity to work on my development as a truly adult and emotionally mature person.
When I am in a relationship with someone, it is not so easy to do it. I have to make compromises. I have to sacrifice a part of myself for the union that I am trying to create with another person.
Now that I am single, I have a lot more opportunity to build strong friendships with many more people than if I were in a romantic relationship. This is because the social status of a single and free person contributes to an increase in the number of social connections with other people.
My single status has given me many opportunities to deepen and strengthen my understanding of myself, while also making many real, loyal, and interesting friends. Yes, of course, a romantic relationship would allow me to learn about an unknown side of my personality, but as a single person, I learned enough about myself to appreciate my freedom. I learned to be responsible for my actions, and to live a full and complete life, not needing a partner who would make me "complete".
It was my single life that helped me become emotionally adult enough that my self-esteem did not depend on someone's perception of me or someone else's approval.
As Charles Bukowski once wrote:
“There are worse things than being alone. But it often takes decades to understand this. And more often than not, when you realize this, it is too late. And nothing is worse than being too late."
YOU FIRST NEED TO LOVE YOURSELF
In order for a romantic relationship to be healthy and fulfilling, you must first create a healthy and fulfilling relationship with yourself. And if you don't have that relationship with yourself, you greatly increase the likelihood of developing toxic patterns in your relationship.
Today's society places such a huge emphasis on the need for long-term romantic relationships with other people that we forget to make time and space for ourselves to in order to create healthy relationships with ourselves.
I chose a single life also because I value the relationship with myself. I take full responsibility for making my life as fulfilling and interesting as possible, without relying on a partner, in order to feel like a whole and complete person.
As a single person, I learned to trust myself and make my own path into the future. My actions are based on self-confidence and my own strength. And I'm not afraid to stay single for a longer period if my circumstances don't change.
STRIVING FOR "PROCREATION", OR THE NEED TO HAVE CHILDREN
Finally, I would like to share with you a few short thoughts about our pursuit of procreation.
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that I am 38 years old, single, and quite happy. And I hope that, having read the article, you already agree with me that it is up to us to decide whether or not to have a romantic relationship, without succumbing to external pressure.
But there is another type of pressure felt by many single people of my age: the so-called urge to "procreate". Or, if you would like me to be more specific, the pressure exerted on us to have children and become parents.
A lot of women around my age who are not in a long-term relationship are quite happy with this, but they still feel pressure from their own bodies trying to get them to find a mate so they can have children before it's too late.
Personally, it seems to me that it would be nice if at some stage in my life I had children. And if we are to have children, then it would be good that this does not happen too late, so that I don’t turn out to be a very old parent to my kids. So, in a sense, I am too also under my own biological pressure to have children.
The truth, however, is that letting this pressure drive us into a relationship while we're not ready for it won't end well, no matter how strong the biological pressure.
Instead of succumbing to this pressure, I advise you to look at it from another perspective. If your time to have kids is running out, but you haven't found the person you really love and want to be your partner, there are other options. If you are a woman and have the appropriate financial capacity, you can freeze your eggs and use them later. You can use a sperm bank and have a baby without having to get into a relationship. If you are a man, you can take advantage of surrogacy. Finally, you can simply apply for adoption if you do not need the child you are raising to be your own flesh and blood.
Or you can accept the fact that you may not have children of your own. It can be very difficult to accept this at first. But by accepting the uncertainty of what might happen to you in the future, you open yourself up to many new opportunities and adventures.
If you accept that you are single, and even if you never have children of your own, the sky will not fall and your life will not end, then you will surround yourself with a completely new aura. Most likely, you will begin to attract new people into your life, people who look at their future much more openly and unconventionally. These people will bring with them new opportunities, and, quite possibly, you will still have the opportunity to raise children, even if they appear in your life and not in the way you thought about.
A FEW FINAL THOUGHTS
Singles have to listen to a chorus of voices every day urging them to find a mate and leave their single life behind.
Many people, instead of deciding what is best for them, fall into the trap of these voices, and start a family, even if they are not ready for it.
I’m not telling you that if you’re not in a relationship right now, you should definitely avoid romantic relationships. I am telling you that you should not get romantically involved just because “it is necessary,” because “everyone does it,” or because “you have to go.”
Personally, I will never define who I am just by whether I am in a relationship or not. Over the past few years, I have developed a fulfilling and rewarding relationship with myself, in which I live my life on my own terms. My singledom is very important to my life path, and it helped me to live according to my ideals.
But this does not mean at all that in order to continue my path of knowing myself and meaningfulness of life, I must certainly remain single until the end of my days.
I simply do not know what tomorrow will bring. It is quite possible that tomorrow I will meet a wonderful person who shares my ideals of independence and freedom, and we will decide that romantic relationships can open a new page in the book of our lives, and contribute to our personal growth.
How can I sum it all up? Perhaps like this:
I am not going to pursue a romantic relationship at all costs, just as I am not going to be single on purpose.
I prefer to live, not knowing what is hidden behind the next corner, and not knowing in advance what type of romantic relationship can make my life better and richer. Instead, I only hope to live my life as an adult and emotionally mature person, communicating with other people without lying, and perhaps even making their lives a little richer.
The key idea of this article would be the following:
You must truly love yourself before you can let someone else love you.
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