I have a confession to make.
I am five months into my break from dating and the truth is a part of me was kind of scared that once my dating hiatus is over years will go by and I will still be single.
It isn’t so much being single that I was afraid of.
It is the story I was telling myself of what being single meant.
I had come up with this silly idea that if I was single it meant that something must be wrong with me, or worse, that other people would think something was wrong with me!!!
But that can’t be true because I know more than my fair share of people who are in relationships who without a doubt are coo coo for Cocoa Puffs.
I also didn’t want to have to conjure up an answer to the “why are you single” question.
For example when people currently ask me that question I can now honestly say it is because I am taking a break from dating.
But what will I say once the break is over?
Do I blow them off with some non answer?
Do I tell them I just haven’t found the right person?
Or do I realize that I shouldn’t take the question personally and recognize that my relationship status doesn’t define me?
I think I should go for the latter.
You see, I took a break from dating not because of some I hate dating, the opposite sex is crazy, I give up on love kind of reason.
No, this is an I clearly need to do some self-analysis, work on my self-esteem and learn some healthy relationship skills kind of break.
During this hiatus I am actively working on improving myself so that I can become and attract a high quality person.
In these past months I have become more aware of some of my opportunities for growth as well as many of my strengths.
I am also learning more about boundaries and how to set them as well as how to be secure in my insecurities.
But above all, I am learning that being single doesn’t mean that there is something inherently wrong with me.
Thankfully my self-esteem is much better today than I believe it has been in my entire life.
Do I still have work to do? – Of course!
But I love myself in a way that I never have before.
The things about myself that other people find weird or quirky I no longer try to change, rather I fully embrace them.
Thank God for improvement!
I have come quite a long way.
I now see those failed relationships as life’s way of telling me I was with the wrong man instead of viewing them as life’s way of telling me I wasn’t good enough.
Previously, I was at such a bad place that I thought I had to settle.
I didn’t trust that someone good would come into my life and therefore I had to put up with poor behavior if I wanted to have a relationship.
And to make matters worse I wanted a relationship because I thought that having a relationship would mean that I was lovable.
My thinking was so misconstrued that it hadn’t occurred to me that I could die single and it would have no bearing on my self-worth.
No logical person would hear about my death and think ‘Wow, she died single she must have been worthless’.
My desire for a relationship was coming from an unhealthy place because emotionally I was in an unhealthy space.
Ultimately I was aiming low, because I felt low.
I didn’t see myself for who I was.
While I have always had standards I think if I was truly honest whenever I was in a relationship there would come a time when something in me would be screaming you deserve better than this but my self-esteem was running on low and I didn’t have the confidence to believe that better would come. I have often stayed in bad relationships longer than was healthy out of fear that it was the best I could do.
I think that by the time I took a break from dating my self-esteem had hit empty and I was simply running on fumes.
I had to pull over and refuel.
Before refueling I recall being in such a bad place that I took someone choosing not to interact with me because of my boundaries as a signal that there was something wrong with me.
I didn’t realize that I should have simply been patting myself on the back for setting a healthy boundary and sticking to it.
When the gentleman I was previously interacting with saw that I was not going to budge on my boundaries he walked away.
At the time I interpreted him walking away to mean that if I kept enforcing my boundaries that men would continue to behave like he did and they would all walk away.
I made the mistake of thinking that the behavior of one man constituted the behavior of all men.
I had to remember that one man does not all men make.
I also had to understand that him walking away meant I had successfully set a boundary and when someone tried to cross it I stood firm and didn’t weaken my defenses.
He showed that he did not have the fortitude to behave in a manner that would allow us to both be comfortable. And I showed that I respected myself enough to stand alone rather than lie down and be a doormat.
This was an all around good thing.
Setting that boundary was me standing up for me. And it allowed me to find a way to keep people away who ultimately don’t mean me well.
The person for me will respect my boundaries and in turn I will respect theirs.
With that in mind a boundary shouldn’t be something artificially constructed.
By this I mean it shouldn’t be something you set because someone else told you that you should, but because you genuinely believe you need to put in place in order for you to be comfortable in a situation.
Having boundaries is my way of saying I love myself.
There are just somethings that I am not willing to fold on.
Unfortunately, I think that when it comes to boundaries many of us have things twisted.
At least I know I did.
I had this hope that when I set a boundary that people would change so that I could continue to interact with them on my terms.
But see that would be manipulation and I don’t believe I was put on this earth to control people.
No,boundaries are not about control. They are put in place to help us to screen people and to determine if they are good candidates to journey with us on our life’s path.
If someone doesn’t like your boundaries and they try to cross them and you say no and yet they continue to push the issue it is a red flag that you need to stand firm and dismiss them from your lives.
At no point should we allow them to cross the boundary or take them disagreeing with our boundary as a sign that we are being too firm.
As I mentioned before the boundaries I set are because I know that I don’t feel comfortable when they are crossed.
They are there for a reason and that reason is out of love for myself.
When someone disagrees with my boundaries it simply means they want different things at that particular juncture in life and that’s okay but we will have to part ways.
This is why I say you have to set boundaries specific to you.
If your friend is not willing to have sex before marriage but you don’t have an issue with it you will not be able to successfully maintain that boundary because it will be artificial and so it won’t work for you.
This is because it is your friends standard not yours.
Search yourself and determine your deal breakers.
Boundaries have to be something that you know for yourself you are not comfortable having occur in order for you to stick to it.
Once you set boundaries you have to overcome the irrational fear that if you stick to them that you will never have what you ultimately seek.
Unfortunately, I have previously allowed my fears to cause me to allow people to cross my boundaries which resulted in me settling for relationships be they business or personal that I should have removed myself from.
You have to remove yourself from fear because I can assure you that if you live long enough your boundaries will surely be tested and if you are operating in fear you will allow people to burst your boundaries every time.
I for one have allowed people to make me uncomfortable because at the time I didn’t love myself enough to stand up for me.
I now see that when people try to get me to remove my boundaries they are simply showing me that they are not the type of people who are meant to be in my life.
Does this mean that I have times where I am alone?
But it is better to be alone with my boundaries intact feeling comfortable then it is to be interacting with someone who leaves me feeling uncomfortable.
We have to stop looking at people walking away or things ending as a sign that we should settle.
When things don’t go as planned be it the end of a relationship, the loss of a job or what you perceive to be a missed opportunity you have to trust that there is something better out there for you.
You have to believe that when things don’t work out it isn’t because life is trying to punish you, but because life has something better for you.
I’ll be honest as I think of some of the things I have done or allowed people to do to me I cringe.
I think oh my I definitely wasn’t loving myself at that time.
There was a time that whenever I reflected on the person I used to be I thought that my past made me damaged goods.
I guess I visualized myself with a sign on my forehead and T-Shirt that read “DAMAGED”. I felt that people knew my whole life story and were all laughing at how naive I was for all of my mistakes.
It never occurred that there was no sign and that we have all made mistakes and everyone of us has a past.
I have issues just like everyone else.
But my past behavior was to sit and sulk about all that is wrong with me and wonder who could ever love someone who has those issues. I truly believe I spent years lamenting about what I perceived to be my faults.
But thankfully I have reached a point in my life where I have realized that while I could definitely stand to improve myself the woman I am right now sitting here typing out this blog is completely lovable.
I do not have to change anything about myself for someone to walk into my life today and find me lovable and that even if no one does I AM STILL ABSOLUTELY LOVABLE.
It wasn’t until recently that I fully accepted the fact that the guys who didn’t want to date me be it because I am the mother of three teenagers, because they weren’t physically attracted to me, because my finances took a nose dive after my divorce or because they didn’t care for my personality were simply not the guy for me and life has intended someone who was a better fit.
I had it wrong and I suffered because of the way I viewed the situation..
I falsely thought it meant that I wasn’t good enough for them.
Don’t be a afraid to set boundaries and to stick to them. Don’t take someone walking a way as a sign that you need to remove your boundaries. See it as a sign that they are not the person meant to be in your life. Don’t allow your fear of being alone to cause you to settle.
© Renata Pittman Smith, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.