Independence is a relationship prerequisite

Love yourself before you fall in love with anyone else.

One of the most important lessons I ever learned was the difference between enjoying being single, and simply being comfortable on my own. For the majority of my 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,’ while I gradually came to hate it.

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

While I’ve read the endless accounts of people claiming the importance of loving yourself before you love someone else, I’m not making the same argument. In fact, I think learning to love somebody else is a good way to help you learn to love who you are, and a big reason I’ve grown out of my ‘anti-single’ status was because I’d been in a relationship while growing up.

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 that 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 solitary 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, you’re generally a lot stronger than you ever thought. 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 before it was taken away. I then entered back into the realm of singleness, and my mentality 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 cliche, but for me when my relationship’s foundation 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 — when your confidence can emerge from only yourself.

You don’t have to like being single, but you do have to be comfortable on your own, and it’s in your best interest to know the difference. I am not advocating against relationships; they’re a definite learning experience. 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.