I’m in a relationship.
But it hasn’t always been that way.
The past few years were an attempt to keep a certain degree of intimacy with someone (read: attempt). And although there was an exchange of sweet messages back and forth, I don’t think I really understood what a “relationship” meant until I got into a healthy one – the one I have right now.
I guess I was desperate back then. Being commitment-free for a long time, it happens. It gets to the best of everyone, and it doesn’t help when your friends and family pressure you into finding someone to settle down with. Whenever February would roll around, I would get reminded that I am single and nobody will give me flowers or chocolates on the 14th. Social media would overflow with posts (specifically, ‘hugot‘ posts) and influences the singles that they’re lonely – thankfully though, most are in good humor – and I was one of them. February was a month I would most allow myself to wallow in self-pity. And that pesky question of, “why am I single?” would surface so persistently.
Let me tell you though, being in a relationship is not all that. I’m not saying I don’t like it nor do I question its essence – I do enjoy being in one, truly. But not having an intimate relationship shouldn’t make anyone feel that they’re not good enough; it’s not a requirement for success nor should it invalidate the person’s character. I strongly believe you can be complete on your own. And based on experience, I’ve learned that the ability to make a romantic partnership work is based on your ability to believe that you are your own person. You don’t get into a relationship because you want to feel whole, you get into a relationship because you are whole enough to handle another person in your life.
One of my friends from the wedding photography team shared an album of a couple celebrating 25 years of marriage. To me, that is what a true relationship is. That is a goal every couple should strive to work for. Yes, “work”, because as much as we are fed by novels and movies that love should be an idealistic ride to rainbows and sunsets, it really isn’t. It’s a lot of pulling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. The moment you decide you want to be in a relationship, you decide to share a lot of your time and resources to that one person; you decide to be strong and vulnerable at the same time; and you decide to swallow your pride to give way for one another in every possible situation you can. It’s really a lot of work. I mean, it’s so much joy to be loved unconditionally, but every honest relationship will give you challenges that you both have to rise up to. And when you seek a relationship only to have something to brag about – Valentine’s Day or not – then that’s gonna be a problem.
Now that I think about it, I never would have gotten together with my partner if I were so keen on finding him. When I was filled with desperation, I just wanted to be with someone; that same desperation let me settle for people who turned out to be not really worth my time. Years of dealing with insecurity, doubt, anxiety, anger, and heartbreak, all because I didn’t want to be single anymore. But once I stopped focusing on trying to attract someone and simply decided to focus on making myself better, the right one came along. Funny how that works. I guess confidence truly is attractive, and when you exude a certain confidence saying you’re not chasing after love, it suddenly comes to you. Nothing feels more fulfilling than knowing that a person likes you because they see something about you, and not just because you begged them for it.
I think Valentine’s Day is overrated. Apart from it being a commercial tool to give everyone an excuse to buy sweets and go on dates, it’s nothing more than just another day. (After all, if you love someone, shouldn’t you be showing it to them regardless of the date?) There’s nothing wrong with celebrating it — you do you, really — but when someone starts using it as an excuse to be sad about not being in a relationship, is it worth celebrating at all?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being single. Nothing.
Never pressure yourself just because everyone else seems to be happy with their partners – trust me when I say that every happy couple has gone through some really nasty fights. Your relationships are not dependent on others’ relationships. Focus on being yourself, being a better person, and just being where you are in terms of commitment or lack thereof. Stay patient but not indifferent. Be brave but also guard your heart. No real thing is ever in need of a rush, and all of the best things require some time to happen.
Love is everywhere. That might sound idealistic but I really believe that we are all capable of giving and deserving of love. (Not just in terms of being with a partner, but also in terms of friendships, pets, and family.) And every single one of us has their own timeline of finding that one person. First, see what page you’re on and keep going until it happens for you. Our seasons are all different, after all.
Until then, love yourself unconditionally first.
And if you believe that the world has a way of finding its way to you, the rest will follow.