I’m 37. I’m single. And I’m content.
I remember, a few months ago, a colleague almost a decade younger than me, asked: “How come you’re not all sad and grumpy, considering you’re not married or in a relationship?”
He was probably talking from a position of innocence and ignorance… and I wasn’t offended.
But now, I have an answer to his question: Because I’m in a happy relationship with myself. And I am comfortable with every aspect of my being – from the graying hair at the roots, to the skin that needs constant moisturising, to the occasional spells of solitude and aloneness… I’m truly at peace with it all.
I don’t understand why people think you should be sad and needy just because you’re not in a relationship or a marriage… Or why you should have a constant companion, someone by your side to make you feel content and happy.
Or worse still, in the case of women, the general notion that you are ‘incomplete’ if you haven’t birthed a child.
I’ve never felt that a relationship, being married, or having a child validated my existence. I’m alive, the world has taken care of me, given me ample opportunity, and I’ve had some great people accompany me on my life journey… Basically, I haven’t much to complain about.
Moreover, I’m happy being by myself… My thoughts, my space and my daily activities are sometimes the best companions I have. We have a natural rhythm, we are in sync. We don’t need raging passion or clichéd lines like ‘I love you’ to know we belong together. We just do.
But this contentment and confidence comes after much hard work…
As you journey through life, meeting some people, loving some and then letting go of some, you realise that in all relationships, you are essentially seeking yourself.
You are coming closer to who you are and who you want to be. And through it all, you learn to nurture yourself, protect yourself, and ultimately love yourself…
No one can love you the way you can. No relationship can complete you if you’re not complete by yourself.
The longing for a relationship should emerge when you are complete by yourself, and have enough love first to give yourself. If you are hungry yourself, how will you feed another? The same logic applies to love and relationships too.
Thus, the first and most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself. And you have to work at it every day, just like you work on every other thing in your life.
You need to pay attention to yourself and your thoughts. If you’re beginning to have thoughts of self-doubt, check them, and start creating a positive inner dialogue instead.
Also encourage and support yourself… Sometimes the only cheerleader you have is yourself, so give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, don’t wait for external appreciation.
If it’s a milestone for you, celebrate it, raise a glass of wine or beer even if you have to do it alone.
At times, you may have to bail yourself out when you have a setback. For example, you quit on a professional goal, or you gave up on a personal relationship. In such cases, don’t begin to wallow in self-pity, you will only spiral downward. Pull yourself up and get ready for the next opportunity.
Also, it’s ok to be angry with yourself if you felt you did or said something wrong; you can chastise yourself if something goes wrong… that’s what our conscience is for. But then make up with a kiss and hug soon after.
How do you kiss yourself? Blow a kiss at yourself in the mirror. No, it’s not narcissism. It’s just reassurance that you’re loved. And how do you hug yourself? Hug your knees to your chest – like you do in yoga, when flat on a mat – it frees your muscles and holds you tight.
Loving yourself is just like loving another. It’s better.
You don’t expect anything back; there are genuinely no strings attached because when you give, you give to yourself, and you give unconditionally. Isn’t that the best kind of love, the best kind of relationship, the relationship you should spend more time on… the one you should focus on the most?
This post was written by Ritika Bajaj and first appeared on Bonobology.com.