"WHEN DO I GET MY FAIRYTALE ENDING?"
A few weeks back I was talking to my cousin over WhatsApp, we were exchanging stories on all the latest dating dramas and screenshots of our erm... interesting matches. We're both in agreement that online dating sucks, and while I'm having a lot of fun with it, my cousin is on the brink of giving up!
There are some women who really want the whole marriage and kids thing (my cousin) and some who are open to the idea but not particularly fixed on it (well that would be me!) Speaking of which, did you know about 17% of marriages and 20% of relationships begin online. I guess it's not a terrible stat, to be honest I think it's amazing when people manage to find their perfect partner online, but I think there's a sprinkle of luck involved too!
THE IDEA OF FULFILMENT
During our conversation, my cousin said to me "When do I get my fairytale ending?" — and even though I'm fully aware that there's no such thing as a "fairytale ending" (I'm not pessimistic, just a realist), it dawned on me that actually... dating can be quite the opposite sometimes. I feel like there's this whole stigma about settling down. Traditionally, the stages of a "perfect relationship" has always been portrayed as: dating someone for many years, buying a house together, getting engaged, getting married, having kids and growing old together. Obviously this way of thinking has branched out and moved on yet it's still an idea that people hold on to. For the singletons who hold tightly on to this way of life, tend to feel the pressure more as the years go by.
I find that as you get older, dating becomes harder. The truth is, the longer you’re alive, the more baggage you build up. We become set in our own ways, we’re more particular about what we want in a partner, we’re more critical. And this is just a tiny handful of reasons why. You'll also find that everyone has been in some form of relationship(s) already, people might have children, be divorced... all of that stuff. So what do we have left? Well, it's a choice of:
Serial daters = doesn't take dating seriously and doesn't want to take dating seriously
Broken but healing = may succeed once healed
Broken and not healing = toxic and undateable
Mentally unstable = this can cover a lot of ground but generally toxic and undatable or adds too much of a burden
Married = no getting into any "entanglements"
Has kids = nothing wrong with having kids, might work for some, dealbreaker for others
You get my drift right? Okay, fine... so there might be like 10% of "normal" people out there but regardless, it's not the easiest journey, particularly if you're someone looking to settle down. There are other factors which unfortunately make an individual put pressure on themselves, this includes:
When all your friends are getting hitched and popping out babies (and you're the only singleton left in the clan)
Parents or other family members reminding you of how much "time" you have left
Awareness of your body clock
Not being able to enjoy your own company
Overthinking about the future
GO EASY ON YOURSELF
One might not be fussed about any of the above but I totally understand why a number of women are in a hurry to find their Mr. Right. The thing is however, progression of a romantic relationship can't be forced or rushed, it's something that should naturally evolve over time. So on that point, I wanted to compile a few "words of wisdom" for my fellow singletons. Mind you, I'm no love guru here, I'm simply picking out some narrative from various books I've read and conversations I've had — all which I've personally found useful and taken onboard. Jumping into relationships There are a number of reasons why people rush into new relationships. A lot of the time, it's an attempt to get over an old one (ie. filling a hole in their life), but rebound relationships rarely stand the test of time because until your heart has healed you're unlikely to be in the right frame of mind to let someone new in. Lost relationships deserve to be grieved. Even if the choice was yours to end it, there is still the loss of the hope you once had for it. You'll be surprised how much you discover about yourself when you take some time out to heal.
Being part of a healthy relationship requires being a healthy person (mentally and emotionally). While it's lovely to have a companion, it's vital to feel comfortable and happy within yourself when you're on your own and before entering a new relationship. It's worth mentioning that no one ever figures everything out about themselves. I'm still learning every day! But when you know what you want and need in a relationship, the higher chance you will find someone in alignment with those needs. Trust your own journey We need to remember that everyone's timing and journeys are different — and I'm not just referring to relationships in this instance. What works for some will not work for others. In life, it can be very discouraging when you witness friends or siblings reaching important milestones, whilst you're there struggling to make ends meet.
Now if we look at dating, it can be hard to suppress feelings of sadness, envy or whatever it is you feel in the age of social media where everyone’s life seems so perfect online. If you find yourself thinking "why can’t it be me?" after seeing a friend’s Instagram post announcing her wedding engagement while she’s in the Caribbean with her new fiancee — it’s totally understandable. There was a study on Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking which found that social media use was associated with lower self-esteem and poorer mental health.
Please don’t focus on how you rank in comparison to others. Enjoy your journey. And remember that your journey has nothing to do with how well other people are doing, or what they have... but it has everything to do with what you want to do, and where you want to go. That’s all you need to worry about. High standards vs. Being unrealistic People people people... we must draw the line between having high standards and being unrealistic. First of all, there is nothing wrong with having high standards. I think it's a sign of healthy self-esteem, and it implies clarity about who you are and what you want. High standards conveys someone who knows their worth and what they deserve and are not afraid to ask for it and expect it done.
On the other hand, having unrealistic expectations for yourself and others isn't great. Expecting someone else to be perfect, tick all the boxes all the time and do things when and how you want is not fair. Sorry but who do you think you are? If you're constantly feeling disappointed in your relationships, you might want to consider the fact that you expect too much from your partner. Yes, relationships involve compromise and there are certainly non-negotiables, but sometimes we need to do some readjusting where expectations are concerned.
I've seen people's (long ass) lists where there's a column for dealbreakers and a column for requirements... and boy, some of that stuff is incredibly far-fetched and laughable. I'm not even gonna go there! Anyway, the bottom line is that you must understand and accept that no one is perfect. By doing so, you release yourself and others from this competition that nobody can ever win. Stop judging I have been particularly bad at this in the past, which is why I've been called "stush" before. One thing I would like to highlight is that putting yourself out there, being in a vulnerable position isn't such a bad thing — and I've massively appreciated it when the other person does the same. It really helps when two people are honest and can communicate. It takes a good amount of time to really get to know someone and even then, you’ll only know a fragment about them. Even in relationships where you learn more over the years, people change as they go through different stages of life, things also happen and you either go with it or walk away.
Managing your judgement is very important here. The problem with judging early on is that you don't allow a chance to connect with the other person on a deeper level, where you see their core values and beliefs, and watch their actions to make sure that they’re aligned with their words. At the end of the day, kindness and acceptance is imperative when getting to know someone new. Enjoying the moment The best part of dating? Having fun! Life might throw a lot of bullshit your way, but it should be enjoyable... and as a bonus, sometimes it's a learning curve. There are people who restrict the fun side of things because they're not living in the moment. In fact, the same people are most likely too busy formulating plans on how to lock things down with the "potential". Remember: Not all relationships will lead to marriage, some will help you discover new restaurants.
We often lose sight of what dating is all about, and in my opinion, it’s about connecting with another person, sharing who you are while learning who they are, enjoying the activity, laughing at the jokes, flirting and appreciating each other's company. When you don’t take yourself or the date too seriously, you’ll quickly find yourself having the best dates of your life. Perhaps we need to trade the unattainable "fairytale ending" for a happy journey with a few bumps en route. We often lose sight of what dating is all about, and in my opinion, it’s about connecting with another person, sharing who you are while learning who they are, enjoying the activity, laughing at the jokes, flirting (if you want!) and appreciating each other’s company. When you don’t take yourself or the date too seriously, you’ll quickly find yourself having the best dates of your life. There's nothing wrong with being single
Lastly.... this. I wasn't always someone who enjoyed being single but when I took the time out and focused on me and put myself first, my mindset and outlook changed completely. As a society we're so wrapped up in finding someone to complete us, instead of trying to complete ourselves. Being single is when you learn about yourself and discover who you are. You have all the freedom when you’re single with no one holding you back — so make the most of it!
Don’t allow yourself to be so enthralled on becoming somebody’s that you forget to first become somebody.