The Relationship Prerequisite: Independence


One of the most important lessons I ever learned was the difference between liking being single, and simply being comfortable on my own. For the majority of my so far brief life, the idea of being single was incredibly hard. I watched as some of my friends thrived within the realm of what we call “the single life”, and in contrast I claimed my hatred towards it.

But I was completely misjudging the situation. What I hated was not the fact that I was currently not in a relationship, but rather the fact that I wasn’t comfortable with who I was on my own and therefore needed to seek the validation of another in order to feel whole.

I’m a self proclaimed quote junkie and so I’ve read the endless accounts of people claiming the importance of loving yourself before you love someone else, but I’m not making the same argument. In fact, I think learning to love somebody else is a good teacher for learning to love who you are, and the only reason I’ve grown out of my ‘anti-single’ status was for the fact that I grew up within a relationship.

If you don’t have the ability to be comfortable on your own, you can get caught in the trap of relying on another. In short, vulnerability seeks a companion, and people have a general tendency towards not wanting to be alone. But we fail to realize that the hands of others shake just as frequently as our own and so building a foundation on anybody other than yourself is a sure way for it to come crumbling down.

While vulnerability does seek a companion, confidence can often appear in solitude. Being on your own can do a lot for your own anxiety and self-esteem. Suddenly, there is nobody to rely on but yourself. And when you take the time to look in the mirror, and at your life, you’re generally a lot stronger than you ever thought you were. I mean, you kind of have to be.

I didn’t understand this until I had invested my own self-security within the fragility of another person and it had been taken away. I had entered back into the realm of singleness, but my mentality had shifted. When you’re used to the presence of another person, it’s not always the case that you’ll feel lost when they’re gone. In some cases, you simply find yourself.

It’s cheesy and cliché but for me when the foundation of my relationship came crashing down I began to build a foundation for myself. I began to like being alone. My independence fuelled a sense of confidence I had never experienced before, and the thought of another relationship was no longer something I craved but something I completely rejected. There is nothing more motivating than being comfortable with who you are as a person – when your confidence can emerge from the confines of your own being and rather from the external presence of somebody else.

So you don’t have to like being single – but you do have to be comfortable on your own, and more importantly you have to know the difference. I am not advocating against relationship’s; they are a learning experience like no other. But in order for them to truly thrive, they require the separate independence of two people, and often times that independence has to be found apart from one another.

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