My last relationship ended three and a half years ago and I’ve been single ever since. The feeling of loneliness struck after the first month of my breakup. It’s not a surprise considering I had been with someone exclusively for two years, exchanging messages daily and seeing them almost everyday. You have that person to share your problems with, sharing physical warmth, and just blabbering nonsense, knowing that they’ll accept you for who you are.
My brain noticed this big hole in my routine and kept pushing me to fill it up immediately like, “Don’t you miss holding hands like that couple in front of you?”, “She replied to your chat, she’s so friendly, I bet she has a crush on you!”, “This girl breathes, I’m 100% sure she’s THE ONE!”
As you can guess, I kept misreading “the signs”. I made approaches when it’s not the right time. I bought gifts for people who I barely knew. I risked it all too soon as I couldn’t contain my feelings any longer. I was too desperate.
Screening through my social circles, check! Dating apps, check! DM’ing girls in Insta, check! Reaching out to people in my workplace, check! Asking for my friends’ referrals, check! Picking up girls in clubs? Not yet, I’m too busy lighting up the dance floor, yo!
Dating after college is a totally different game. It’s already difficult enough to find a person that’s your type and still available, but then you need to compete with a number of people who are physically more attractive, more stable career-wise, and not to mention much more money to spend.
I’ve learned very quickly that I’m pretty low in the pecking order. I need so much more than just mere confidence. I was working at an entry-level job, I have a family back home that I need to support, and I didn’t know what to do with my life yet. Realizing that I was unable to win, I thought to myself, “Is being single that bad? Isn’t this a luxury as well?” And that’s when I decided to start enjoying being single while it lasts.
* * *
1. I have an unlimited amount of “Me-time”.
One of the most common complaints I’ve heard from my dating friends are the lack of “Me-time”. They’re always in the “boyfriend/girlfriend” mode, interacting everyday that they tend to look forward to finally having a free day — or even a few hours just for themselves.
I have all the time in the world for myself! I can be as productive or as lazy as I want. I don’t have to be accountable to other people, updating what I’m doing every 15 minutes, accompanying to attend a wedding every two weeks, or watching Disney movies when not in the mood. I can be selfish, and I don’t have to feel bad about it!
2. I can self-explore without explaining why!
With the amount of time that I have, I can really explore new activities and hobbies without the need to explain to anyone or asking for their “permission”. When I feel like doing something, I can do it right away!
When you’re in a relationship, there are new things that you want to try, but it might not make sense to your partner. It might worry or scare them, or it just seems inappropriate. For example, bar-hopping with your work colleagues, starting a Medium blog to talk about your dating life, or visiting a gay bar in Bali to watch a drag show and genuinely enjoying it.
3. I can truly be who I am, good or bad.
When you’re committed to someone, you need to behave in such a way that you don’t look like you’re “single”. You need to be aware of how you behave with the opposite gender, even if you’ve been close friends for many years. Not to mention if your partner is a control freak, trying to change the way you dress or limit who you can hang out with.
As a free spirit, I like to do things my way, joke around freely, be friendly with anyone, be outspoken, and sometimes, be ignorant. I’m very grateful I can be who I really am and see myself grow into my true self.
4. I don’t have to face relationship-related stress.
One thing that I’m not envious of from my dating friends are the extra stress from their romantic lives, like the quarrels and fights, plans to get married, and the savings they need to prepare for it. The stress sometimes comes up so suddenly and unnecessarily, it ruins your whole day!
I’ve gone through these fights and it’s super unpleasant. I couldn’t focus on anything else and my mood became horrible. I salute all of you who are able to juggle this along with the stress from your work and family. I’m still guiding through the things life is throwing at me. Having less stress is my priority at the moment.
5. I can make life-changing decisions without much consideration.
The thing with being in a relationship is you are committed to something important that you have to consider it in anything that you want to do. You don’t make decisions for yourself, but for the relationship as well.
I moved to Singapore from Jakarta for work a year ago. It’s my first time leaving my home country to live by myself and I only informed my family three weeks before. The transition was so smooth that I felt like I was going for a two weeks vacation! I can’t imagine what I need to go through if I was seeing someone back then, heck, I might not even apply for the role in the first place! It’s so much easier to take risks when you’re only risking yourself.
* * *
1. I’m starting to feel empty.
Human is truly a social being. I am given the opportunity to live freely, doing everything that I want without any limitations, and yet I still feel something is missing. The sense of belonging and having a companionship keeps coming up to my mind.
I’m mentally more matured compared to the person I was three and a half years ago. I have a stable job, working in my dream company, and living in a safe and more developed country. For once, I can relax and enjoy life a little. But what’s the next thing I need to fulfill to grow as a person? Is having a relationship and grow together with someone the answer I’m seeking?
2. I don’t have a special someone to share my life with.
Problems, stories, jokes, activities, anything. Yes, it’s true that you can share with your siblings, parents, friends, best friends, but the feeling is different. I’m looking for an intimate bonding to share my affection.
To have that special someone who you can rant about that annoying colleague at work, cuddle and watches Netflix with, share how you almost walked into a gutter because you’re staring at a corgi furry butt. You’re investing your time and feeling intentionally for the attachment and a future together.
3. I’m annoyed and envious when I see people dating.
When you’ve been alone for quite some time, you started to figure out why you’re looking for relationship and where does it fit in your current life plans. You know the type of person that’s best for you and you’re willing to wait for the right one.
The problem with this is you’ll need to be able to resist your instinct and balance it with your logic. Your surrounding doesn’t help as well. A couple hugging right in front of you when you’re shopping for groceries. You see another kissing in while you’re chilling with your book in a cafe. I’m annoyed because they’re not respectful to the people around them. I’m envious because I miss those intimate moments but I need to suck it up.
4. I don’t have many friends to hang out with.
As you age to your mid-twenties and older, it’s normal that you will lose friends and have a smaller social circle. You will have different priorities and life situation, for example, they got into a relationship, they found new cliques from yoga class, or they moved to another city.
What I didn’t realize was how difficult it is to befriend people in a new country. They have their own partners and groups of friends. They go home straight after work for their families. We have different schedules that it’s a nightmare to set any meet ups. With situations like this, it’s impossible not to feel lonely and view getting into a relationship is the way out.
5. My social needs are starting to die off.
With less and less social interaction — and the pandemic only makes it worse, people are getting used to be alone and live with themselves. When you’re by yourself for a certain period, you start to get comfortable and find other things that can keep you entertained. You don’t really need other people to make you feel better.
My brain is reacting to this self-destructing feeling of being alone and forces me to find excitements through other activities. I’m building a large wall of tolerance around my mind to help me avoid falling deeper into the dark hole of depression, and it’s working! I’m so busy with my own things that I don’t even realize the day has passed!
* * *
Now, I’m not saying that being in a relationship or staying single is the better option. We need to have an equal amount of having a compassionate interaction and also enough time for ourselves. Understanding which stage of life you’re in right now is the most important part. The grass is always greener on the other side, but if you know your priority, you might not need to get to the other side, right?
Previously published on “Hello, Love”, a Medium publication.
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