A year and three months ago I decided to bench myself from the dating scene to invest in someone in need of TLC (Time Love and Care), and that individual was me. When I concluded my on again off again relationship with my boyfriend of twelve years, and severed ties with my “no strings attached” boyfriends, I vowed that dating would take the backseat. I committed to being the priority until I –through much prayer, mediation, and alone time–felt established in my God-given purpose, and life goals.
Making this investment has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve made, but I haven’t always been optimistic about my commitment. This journey has been one hell of a transition with a lot of headaches and heartaches. However, this season has been completely worth it. But wait! I can’t put icing on a cake before the batter has been baked, so let’s start from the very beginning.
Teenage Love Affair
At the age of fourteen I started dating someone. It was obvious there was some kind of chemistry (You know that ‘she cute he cute kind of attraction and everybody else dating so let’s give it a shot’ situation). We did the things a lot of high school sweethearts do such as, sneaking off for the weekend “blow off some steam”, chat about marrying young, applying to the same colleges to avoid a long distant relationship. We talked about how we were meant for each other, and how nothing would never tear us apart. You name it we probably said or did it.
After sometime of dating we introduced one another to our parents and as expected they felt we were too young and too serious. We often heard “This is the time for you to get to know yourself and date around a little bit. You shouldn’t be tied down so soon“. But like most teenagers we did the opposite. One year turned into three, three into six, six into ten, and ten turned into twelve years (whew).
Nine years into the relationship wedding bells rang in my ears as we had spent close to a decade learning and dealing with one another. Everyone from the outside looking in began pressuring him to ask the big question. We and everyone else thought we’d make a beautiful union as we had been through so much together. We learned how to live with one another’s flaws by proposing solutions as to how to be one another’s “better half”. I would stop throwing his past mistakes in his face, and refrain from my “mother like tendencies” and to allow him grow into the man he needed to be. I would start being more appreciative for who he was and be patient with the man he would soon become. I would also refrain from being obsessive, insecure, and needy.
He –in turn–would learn to communicate better, learn to be accountable for his actions, and be the best we knew that he could be. He would also learn to commit to being honest, loyal, and respectful. Year after year we’d come up with a plan to be the best we could be for one another, but it wasn’t enough.
The amount of time and energy we were supposed to put into changing together wasn’t adding up. Majority of the time I spearheaded the strategies to better our relationship while constantly reminding him that we were in it together and that I needed more of his participation to make things work. We have since then broken up and we are no longer on speaking terms (Note: there’s nothing wrong with establishing boundaries for the betterment of your well-being).
Now that I think about it, my priorities were out of line as I needed to focus more on individualism verses collectivism. I also noticed that there were signs to a greater problem that could have been dealt with in advance if I knew then what I know now.
Can You Answer For Yourself?
A few years ago my ex-boyfriend and I met with a friend of ours who had launched her life goal of hosting her own fashion webisodes. The topic of career goals came up and she asked me, “What do you plan on doing with your BS degree in Communication“? I told her I wasn’t sure anymore and that I was still figuring things out (Note: graduation was a few months away and I had nothing lined up). The disbelief on her face and the disgust in her voice made my boyfriend and I so uncomfortable that he came up with some ideas as to what I could potentially do with my degree. As he is talking she’s trying to interrupt him so that she could ask me if I could speak up for myself. By the time he finished his spill, she asked me who did my make-up and I confessed I did. She then replied, “Oh it’s cute. You could pass as a make-up artist“. Chic what!? 4 years of education and all you can do is acknowledge how pretty I am?
After that she excused me from the rest of the conversation. I remember walking out the door humiliated and traumatized. That day I learned that beauty is average, but a woman with beauty, intellect, and plans says a lot about how confident and comfortable she feels within herself whether single or taken. But I didn’t know how to balance the two so continued shaping myself for the betterment of my relationship and sadly this cycle continued on.
Again, Can You Answer for Yourself?
It wasn’t long after separating from my flaky relationship that I found myself on the prowl. I wasn’t fond of one on one’s unless it was with someone of the opposite sex who fit my criteria. He needed to be charming, educated, independent, and secure to name a few. If he offered what I was looking for I was a happy scout, but there was a problem and it was all too familiar.
Again, I spent so much time getting to know my person-of-interest that when the time came for me to answer questions such as, “what are your career goals, where do you see yourself in two years, how active are you in your community, what are your core values, what do you like and dislike most about yourself, ” I was completely unprepared. I needed to find my way and I needed to asap. I didn’t need to do it so much for dating purposes, but I needed to because I couldn’t bare going another day not knowing who I was, where I planned to go and why.