Valentine’s Day is probably the most loved and hated day in the world. Couples usually celebrate and shower their partners with affection and gifts on this day while singles’ attitude toward this occasion is quite diverse: people who recently went through tough breakups are suddenly saddened, some might feel jealous or bitter and the rest are just apathetic.
I’ve been single for almost 3 years and this is not a deliberate decision. I just haven’t found the person I want to be with. That said, living in a Southeast Asian country where deep-rooted prejudice against over-25 single women is still strong is not easy. I’ve received countless pressure and hassling about my relationship and marital status from relatives and sometimes even friends (Thank god my parents actually seem more receptive about it). As a result, I eventually found myself fleeing away from home on family reunions or holidays just to get away of being asked “When do you get married?”. But that’s NOT the most annoying thing. What irritated me more was my self-pity over the situation.
I had a perfect relationship. Or that’s what I THOUGHT. I was head over heels in love with my recent ex and I even caught myself daydreaming about how our children would look like and how we would grow old together. But on one unexpected day, he stepped out of my life after 2.5 years of dating. My world was shattered and I was completely baffled by the event.
Basically, there are 5 stages of a break up: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, or 7 stages if you break it down a little bit more according to Psychologytoday.com: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/me-we/201406/the-7-stages-grieving-breakup. In my case, I was trapped in the denial stage for a very long time by spending years agonizing over the reasons why it didn’t work. I thought we had great chemistry, a strong connection and we knew each other so well etc. I never found a perfect answer but I’ve learnt to make peace with the past and stop questioning or demanding for a closure.
Not until recently have I felt the true essence of liberation of letting things go and started to really embrace my singleness. If you used be hurt in relationships, this post may resonate with you. Or if you have been in the quest for love or relationships for ages but haven’t found your luck yet, what I am going to share may be useful too 🙂
WHAT I HAVE LEARNT FROM LETTING GO:
1. I have learnt to accept it when things are beyond my control
A shaken relationship can only have a chance to survive if BOTH parties still want to fix things up. If you find yourself the only person who wants to make it work then maybe it’s time to let it go. The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” written by Mark Manson reinforces this point. The idea is if somebody puts you in the “gray area” and you aren’t certain how she or he feels about you, chances are the relationship is going to be doomed. In other words, if you have to ask, you already have your answer. You can check out the full article here: https://markmanson.net/fuck-yes
It’s a huge relief when I finally understood this and stopped hoping I could convince someone to get back into the relationship with me or someday we will be together again because he just realized he made a big mistake and we were destined for each other. This is a typical thinking pattern of someone whose rational mind is on a break because of the pain he or she is enduring in the first stages of a breakup. I also learnt to stop victimizing or blaming myself or my ex for what happened. Sometimes love simply runs dry.
2. Things happened for a reason
Many people including myself couldn’t get over their exes because of the thinking “That person is the one”. Well now when I recall the fading memories, I realize I overlooked the signs. If we were so “right” for each other, things wouldn’t have just fallen apart. Fundamentally, there are 3 emotional needs which if not communicated well could cost you the relationship:
- Status. Feeling important or superior; feeling challenged.
- Connection. Feeling understood and appreciated; shared values and experiences.
- Security. Feeling safe and reliable; feeling trust.
You can refer to the full article here: https://markmanson.net/how-to-get-over-someone
Personally, I think it is important for us to look back and learn from our mistakes from an objective perspective. Though it doesn’t guarantee that your next relationship is going to last forever but at least you don’t repeat the same mistakes. That’s how humans grow and evolve. But you should only do this after you move to the acceptance stage when the storm is over and your mind is clear.
3. Which seems bad might turn out good
I’ve just been able to grab its full wisdom lately. This life-changing event really challenged my old knowledge about who I really was and what I wanted to do in life. I was not happy with what I was doing at the time and also wasn’t actively searching for my passion to create a life where I could experience myself being fully engaged and articulated. Getting to be with the person I loved used to be the most important thing to me.
It took me a while to re-navigate my life but somehow I’m figuring it out. I learnt to step out of my comfort zone to start doing things I strongly believe in and think more seriously about my career and passion. My journey to yoga is a prime example. At first I came to yoga as a therapy to get over the breakup. But my flourishing love for yoga eventually lead me to India. And at the end of 2018, I made my way to India as a solo female traveler and spent more than 1 month there, something which would never cross my previous version’s mind. The trip really broadened my conception of the world around me and triggered my curiosity to learn more about the rich culture of the beautiful land I set foot on. I met, talked and shared experiences with amazing people along the way and I realized life had so much to offer other than materials or romantic relationships.
Similarly, Mo Gawdat, former Chief Business Officer for Google X & author of the book “Solve for Happy” mentioned in one of his talks at Google “Nothing is truely good or bad. Thinking is what makes it so”. He explained it through the story of his beloved son Ali who was fasting for 24 hours before his surgery (he didn’t make it in the end) for the month of Ramadan. Deeply heartbroken by his son’s death & suffering from being thirsty in the very last moment of his life, Mo made a promise to help hundred thousands of people who don’t have daily access to clean water. “Basically, when you think about it, what happened to Ali was bad for Ali, horrible for me, but it might have been good for the few thousands of people that get some blessing of the clean water as the result to that event”. You can watch the video here (from 38:00):
Reflecting on what happened, I might have to thank my ex for breaking up with me for had that not happened, I would probably still be the cluless spoiled princess whose ultimate goal was to live happily ever after with the love of her life.
HOW I EMBRACE MY SINGLENESS
- I‘m learning to be my “whole package”
I actually learnt the term “whole package” through my good friend Phill over dinner. We talked about how I was progressing after the breakup which took place a long time ago. As I explained how I was re-investing in the relationship with myself and not rushing into new relationships when I was not ready, he nodded “Yeah you need to be a whole package yourself first”. This really got me thinking and I just love the idea so much. It is true that you should feel complete and happy with yourself before inviting a partner into your life. Your partners only add more flavors and colors to make your life more beautiful, they don’t complete you because you don’t need to be completed. You are already a wholesome incredible human being.
To become my “whole package”, I also learn to be responsible for my happiness and well-being as well as establish boundaries to prevent myself from falling into potentially toxic relationships. Dishonesty, disrespect, over-jealousy or excessive possessiveness….are considered “toxic” for me. I don’t have a boyfriend for the sake of having a boyfriend.
2. I take my singleness as an opportunity to explore myself and my potentials
When 2 uniqute individuals step into a serious relationship, to make it work, most of the time we need to compromise to some extent. Sacrification might be needed as well in some situations. For example, a dedicated husband might reject a good opportunity to work on his dream project which requires long-haul working hours to be with his wife and their newborn daughter. As long as everyone involved is happy and contented, I think that’s a beautiful sacrification and should be appreciated.
Conversely, being single really gives you the freedom and full control to work on your professional and personal projects without worrying about how the decisions affect your significant others (I’m only talking about romantic relationships and not family affairs in this case). Moreover, you have more time to invest in yourself and grow as a person you always want to become. For example, I save a lot of time texting and hanging out with my “boyfriend” (if I have one) and spend it on my online courses. I’m a curious person by nature so this works pretty well for me and I’m happy about it.
These 2 reasons make me believe singleness has been immensely underrated. In my opinion, the conventional notion that romance is something humans can’t live without is fundamentally flawed. One will endlessly search for love with that CONDITIONAL belief (I could only feel happy and fulfilled IF I find that person or in a relationship). Supposedly you find the person and you are so happy in that relationship, congratulation. But what if you haven’t? Does that mean your life is a failure and you should pity yourself? Of course not. As mentioned before, you should take full responsibility of your well-being and not let anyone or anything decide whether you deserve to be happy or not.
After reading everything I have just shared, you might wonder “So do you still believe in love Huong?” Yes, I do. And I think true love is one of the most beautiful experiences a person can have in a lifetime. I consider myself a desperately romantic creature and I’m sure you can tell. But I don’t think we need love or romantic relationships to survive. I am still open to love but will take my time.
I hope you enjoy the post. Please share your thoughts and experiences on this topic by leaving your comments. Thanks! <3