Hopping from one relationship straight into another, before you’ve even had a chance to land both feet safely on the ground.
Hands up if you’ve played that game? Me.
I watch friends who are doing it now. And I’m not about to tell them not to because it’s their lesson to learn, their journey to make and their heart to break… Aaaaand here comes my opinion anyway.
Time alone is important. And I don’t just mean alone as in let’s run a bath and have some real candlelit ‘me-time’ alone (although that is very nice too)… I mean, ALONE, as in, without partner, boyfriend, girlfriend. Single. I can only speak from experience, and coming from a girl who has just spent eight months being single after thirteen years of playing relationship hopscotch, I can tell you now – time alone is important.
So here are my three top nuggets of wisdom I’ve accumulated during my ‘alone time’:
1) Being selfish is not actually selfish. It’s a necessity.
We don’t realise just how much energy we give to our partners. Even when we’re not physically together, they occupy a lot of brain and heart space, which doesn’t always leave much for us, and can mean we end up neglecting ourselves. Having time alone allows us the chance to be selfish, work out who we are and what we want from life. Selfishness is generally seen in society as a negative – all this ‘put others before yourself’ business – no. Just, no. Being selfish is The One. Totally necessary. I’m not saying ‘f*** you, the last Rolo’s mine’ kind of selfish, I’m just saying it’s so important to make decisions based on what’s best for you, not because you think it’s what’s best for them. Only they know what’s best for them. We didn’t come here to live other people’s lives. Looking after number one first means you can look after number two better. Putting them first doesn’t make you a better partner… In fact, that shit actually ends up boomeranging right back on you both. Be selfish, work on yourself, and fill your space up with you.
2) It’s not their responsibility to make us happy. That’s our job.
Chances are, if we jump straight from one relationship to another, it could be because we’re looking to someone else to make us happy, unconsciously searching outside of ourselves. We place responsibility on our partners to make us happy, and it ends up just making us sad. It’s no one other than our responsibility to make us happy, and it all starts with self love. Cheese on toast, but a simple truth. Having time by ourselves throws up a lot of surprises that would probably take a lot longer to realise being in a relationship, and a really big one for me was learning that I didn’t completely love or believe in myself. If you don’t love yourself, how can you love another person the way they deserve? The best advice I can give here is, don’t use someone else to fill a hole – learn to be content by yourself, and then the right person will just enhance your happiness, not be responsible for it.
3) We attract what we are.
Probably one of the biggest and hardest relationship lessons I’ve had to learn since becoming single is that we attract to us what we are. This can be a difficult one to get your head around. Do you find yourself blaming them? Trying to change them? Wishing they’d act or behave in a way that suited you better? Time to take a look in the mirror. Or rather, just look at your partner, because every piece of good and bad we see in them is a reflection of what we already have inside of us. This can be a hard thing to accept – at first, I didn’t want to believe that the ‘negative’ things I noticed in others existed in me. But whether we like it or not, the external world is always a reflection of our internal world. When you’re faced with qualities you don’t like, see it as an opportunity to look at yourself. In the words of Jim Rohn, ‘don’t wish it could be easier, wish that you could be better.’ Which is a whole separate topic for another time. So for now, look to change yourself before you can expect to see a change in someone else. Being on our own gives us the time to become the best version of ourselves, so that we can attract the same person towards us. Become the person you want to attract. If we move on immediately to another relationship without any breathing space, unknowingly discontent in our own company, chances are, our next partner will be exactly the same. And that rarely leads to a happy ever after situation.
Yes, it can be hard and lonely and scary being alone after a relationship ends, and it’s pretty natural to want to look to someone else to help soften the blow! Being on my own filled me with anxiety for months, but I knew it was necessary if I was to ever be truly happy. The relationship hopscotch pattern needed to be broken. And getting to the other side is incredibly empowering. We need breathing space between partners to turn the focus inside and work on the most important relationship we could ever possibly have – the one with ourselves – which is so often forgotten about. Once you’re in a good place with yourself and the internal work is being done, the right person will appear at the right time. Someone who loves themselves too, and is able to love you right back, the way you deserve. Someone who sees the greatness in you because they’ve worked to be great themselves. And someone who doesn’t call you their ‘other half’, because they know you’re already complete by yourself.