I used to be that girl—the one whose whole world would become so quickly absorbed with whatever new guy I was with that I practically disappeared in the relationship. Plans? I’d cancel them to stay by his side. Friends? What friends? I was busy being a devoted girlfriend. My dreams? They’d get delayed, put on the back burner, while I spent all my time with him. I had no idea why I always fell into this pattern until I learned these important lessons.
1. FEELING LIKE I NEEDED SOMEONE ELSE MEANT I WASN’T COMPLETE. In hindsight, I realize that I was incomplete. I wasn’t fully living my life: I hated my job, I struggled as a single mom, I avoided the pain of my past and was doing nothing to improve any of it. Instead, I hoped that finding the one would change all that—or that I’d suddenly be too blissful for my problems to matter. What I learned was that no guy, no matter how loving, was going to complete me. That’s my job.
2. I HAVE TO PROTECT MY SOLITUDE. The truth is that I can’t be around people 24/7 and if I go too long without solitude, I get bitchy. Spending time with a new guy is just fine—it’s when he doesn’t go home and I feel like I’m permanently entertaining a guest that I start to get edgy. I’ve learned it’s better to explain this (politely) sooner than to snap later.
3. NO ONE’S GOING TO SAVE ME. Nowadays I don’t want to be saved, but for awhile there, I secretly hoped that each new guy I dated would slay my dragons and whisk me off to a better life. But that fairytale would only last as long as the relationship held and even if I eventually wanted to leave, I would no longer just be leaving him—I’d be giving up the comforts of his generosity. Better to slay your own dragon and redecorate your tower.
4. I’M PERFECTLY CAPABLE.I didn’t always believe this (obviously) but I know now that the best way to build confidence is to do new things and to do those new things yourself. While I understand that everyone needs to ask for help sometimes, I simply quit requesting help as my immediate reaction. I decided to at least try before asking someone else to step in, and it wasn’t long before I was surprising myself with my self-reliance.