I’m a hopeless romantic. Not in a rom-com kind of way, but in the Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Gone With the Wind way. I’m positive my Rhett Butler is waiting for me around the corner. It’s this mindset that made me fall in love with three amazing men… but still find myself completely single at 26.
The Doctor. We met in college. Our friendship didn’t begin there, though. It wasn’t until much later that we spent months on the phone when he decided to take a year to travel. He had a serious girlfriend of many years who was uncomfortable with his decision. Their relationship went on and off again throughout that time. I was the one always willing to provide a joke or meme of a cute pup, hoping to brighten my friend’s day. It wasn’t my fault he was down, but I was willing to do anything to make him smile. I found out about their engagement over social media. He was hesitant to tell me about it. Can you guess why? In his words, “You were in the back of my mind the whole time.” I was his second choice.
The Pilot. We worked together. I immediately friendzoned myself because I couldn’t fathom not having this man in my life. His presence was calming, comforting, and always made me feel at peace. One night, after our careers went separate ways, I confessed my crush. He told me he felt the same way, then promptly moved to Denver with a girl he had been casually dating at the time. Later, when he texted to catch up, he said he didn’t want to tell me he had gotten serious with her. Why? I was his second choice.
The Friend. Now, we met at a very weird time in my life. I had just gotten out of a crazy relationship. I had upended my life, quit my dream job, and promptly started dating this person. This amazing human that opened my eyes to the kindness of the world. He made me realize that people can communicate without yelling and being hurtful. I decided to take a chance! I informed him that I thought it would be a good idea if we spent more time together. He didn’t agree. I was his second choice.
Why am I telling you this? Because when it came to The Friend, love #3, I was his second choice… second to himself. He wasn’t ready to give up his “me time” for a woman. In his eyes, he spent the majority of his time with me and wasn’t ready to give up the endless nights at home alone. This gave my hopeless romantic brain a brand new outlook that I will always be grateful for.
As you move through the different seasons of life, know that love has many forms. Familial love is different than romantic love. Romantic love can live harmoniously in balance with self-love, and some days familial ardor is going to fade or feel distant but will never stop flowing. Nothing is going to be perfect. It’s not going to look like it does in books or movies.
Identify which season you’re in. All of these men taught me to love myself more. They taught me that my twenties are not for finding my life partner. They taught me that my twenties are made for learning to rely on myself.
Alone doesn’t mean solo. Alone means going for Friday night drinks with your best friends to people watch at crowded bars. Play drinking games that make you laugh all night long with the people you hold dear. They mean taking a day to read a whole book without conversing with a single soul. Journaling to communicate with yourself so you can better listen to others.
In the words of the queen of single life and romance, Carrie Bradshaw, “The most exciting and challenging relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well that’s just fabulous.“
Thanks to the men who didn’t deem me as #1, because I found my worth in myself. I hope you do the same.