2021 has been certainly a year that none of us will forget quickly.
With the pandemic spilling over to this year it has been hard to focus on daily life, let alone sustain a romantic relationship, which is why I have sworn off being in a relationship this year. With the amalgamation of social media, Covid, and my own mental health, I think that it’s best for me to focus on other things than romance this year.
These past 18 months have been a major struggle for so many people, it feels as though it’s almost a global restart. Hence, what better time to address your own needs first, to heal from the past, and to give this year a miss for relationships?
Why I’m Steering Clear of Relationships This Year
Now, I’m not swearing off my love life to become a spinster and grow old with just Labradors as my company (despite how enticing that sounds). Instead, I’m checking in with myself and prioritizing my goals and my happiness. This idea could be viewed as self-centered or egotistical, however, I believe that if I’m still in the process of attempting to grasp my own mindset, how could I have the capacity to facilitate someone else’s wants and needs? At the end of the day, I do believe that everyone deserves someone to love and to lean on, but if I can’t be that person this year for someone else, how can I expect them to do the same for me?
After such a long time away from socializing and meeting new people, it’s understandable that individuals are eager to give their all to a relationship, to finally fall head over heels for someone. But I can’t be that deserving person for a partner this year.
How can I expect a loving partner when I’m not ready to give a relationship my all?
As soon as I had the realization that there was no pressure to force myself into finding a partner, a weight was lifted, and I began to focus on improving the connection with myself. This meant creating healthy habits. Some were habits that I already did do, such as going to the gym, but previously I was motivated for the wrong reason. I have loved going to the gym since I was about 15, however, my drive has always been to improve my appearance, and I felt validation when family or friends would compliment me. This internalized feeling of depending on praise has faded this year. Now I go to the gym because I enjoy it. It makes me feel accomplished. Slowly but surely, I have made tweaks to my routines that allow me to enjoy my own company and even feel enough as I am.
Being Single Isn’t Sad
I think that part of the reason that I have enjoyed not being in a relationship this year is because I have shaken off the stigma that’s often associated with being single. Often “single” feels like a label, almost a piteous phrase that others give you when in between relationships. I know that I’m more than my relationship status, but previously it has felt as though I was defined by this. Therefore, it feels invigorating that I have been able to reclaim my singlehood, and it has led me to feel as though I’m growing to have the best mental relationship with myself that I have had in a long time.
Having recently entered my twenties, I expected a lot of societal and personal pressure to be piled onto me, however, it has only been the insistent grandparents explaining that they were married and had children at my age. Their stories of true love do romanticize relationships in my head, but I believe that there’s no rush. I still live by the mantra that it’s better to have no partner than a partner who doesn’t improve your life.
It’s better to have no partner than a partner who doesn’t improve your life.
I don’t think romance is dead. I’m surrounded by family and friends who are in beautiful and successful relationships, in which they support one other. My mum and dad have been happily married for 25 years, and it’s amazing to see how true love can last and be the most precious thing in an individual’s life. But maybe this is the exact reason that I have not dated this year. I have seen relationships that have withstood some of the toughest times that we will experience, partners who have cared, cherished, and compromised to reach each other’s needs. Which in a way is a perfect example of what I wish I will have one day. It’s almost as if the bar seems to be set so high already, so how can I put that pressure on one human to fulfill right now?
There Should Be No Pressure To Hop from One Relationship to the Next
It’s an understatement that dating is fast-paced for people my age. With the combination of university hookup culture and dating apps designed to find you a quick fix who is three miles away, our generation seems to have a new partner on their arm every week. I do understand the appeal of hookup culture, as it seems as though the cocktail of boredom and hormones does momentarily satisfy some people’s romantic needs. But I’m happy to give meaningless romantic flings a miss, as they’re generally emotionally damaging.
I’m happy to give meaningless romantic flings a miss, as they’re generally emotionally damaging.
I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who is still a hopeless romantic, but when I do get into a relationship, I want my partner to be emotionally mature and committed to being a counterpart in a healthy and beneficial relationship. Furthermore, in relationships, you could fall into basing your self-worth on the respect and esteem you gain from your partner. Right now, it feels special and somewhat of a breakthrough that I can feel worthy through the validation I’m giving myself when I have created healthy habits and a lifestyle that I can be proud of.
So, I’m giving myself a break for the rest of the year because everyone needs recovery time and periods in their lives to reflect and heal from the past 18 months. When the time is right, and on my own terms, I will be prepared to fully commit to a relationship, but for now I’m staying single and enjoying spending time and strengthening relationships with my family and friends.
The journey that I have been on this year has been invaluable to my own connection with myself, one that I wouldn’t trade for the perfect partner. The things that I have learned from stepping back and addressing some of my damning qualities have allowed me to become a better person for the next partner that I find, but most importantly for myself. Love is often depicted as the sole conquest for humans in their lifetime, that the partner you find will complete you. I don’t disagree that love is of paramount importance in our life, but the first place to work on love is with yourself.
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