I decided to swear off dating for the remainder of my 20s. No, that is not a typo, you read that correctly.
Dating and I have never been on the same page. Because of that, I've learned my fair share of lessons the hard way. Bad dating choices resulted in situations like me being left with a $600 weekend getaway bill that the guy didn't pitch in for (Don't ask). Those same choices led to me finding out that another guy I was interested in never really left his on-again and off-again girlfriend like he had claimed. They were always "on" and as a result, I unknowingly became the woman on the side.
I was plagued with disappointment and embarrassment as I sat in the bathtub crying, once again. I couldn't figure out why I was still single. The timeline that I had for my life wasn't coming into fruition. Where was my condo, boyfriend, and career? Right then and there, as the water began to turn my fingers into prunes, I decided to stop fixating on a healthy relationship with a guy, and instead focus on building a solid relationship with myself and God.
A few months after turning 26, I decided to hang up my dating shoes for a while.
It wasn't easy by any means necessary, yet deactivating my social media accounts made it a little more manageable. Yes! There was no Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, nor SnapChat and I survived. However, when you can only scroll through you own thoughts and not your social media timeline, you learn a lot about yourself. I realized not only was I captivated by the "likes" on my pictures and often cliche thoughts, I was imprisoned by the critiques and opinions of the men around me. I wanted them to like me and validate me through quality time and attention.
At the time, singleness to me meant, "You're unwanted." It led me to question how could God deem me valuable when others didn't. Spending time in prayer, slowly yet surely, I saw that I possessed the qualities of a virtuous woman. My focus became establishing a healthy relationship with God and seeking purpose.
Managing to duck out of the shadows and opinions of others, I learned how to go out by myself and enjoy my own company. My insecurities faded as I went to the ticket booth to purchase a ticket for one. Might I add that buying lunch for one was much cheaper than having to always foot the bill for two as I often did when dating?
As I began to stride on the journey to wholeness, I had to confront my past experiences with dating.
Though I didn't want to admit it, I was the common denominator in all of my failed dating experiences.
My unhealthy relationships and encounters with men were the direct reflection of the unhealthy outlook I had concerning myself. I was insecure about my looks before they ever commented on them. My interest were masked by timely pop culture in efforts to fit in because I didn't want to be categorized as boring.
There is no rulebook when it comes to dating, however, I knew that something I was doing was resulting in failed encounters. My insecurities led to me giving the wrong guys a chance because I didn't get asked out on dates often. I felt invisible. But I was also afraid. I was so afraid of being left alone that I wasn't selective enough about who I allowed in my space. Often times, that looked as small as me opening my wallet to cover the expenses for whatever we did and accepting men who welcomed being taken care of. Other times, it was as severe as being manipulated into being a side chick. All of it was beneath me.
Though I had good intentions, I couldn't have a healthy relationship with a significant other until I had an honest and healthy relationship with myself. I began to work on me mentally, physically, and spiritually. Deactivating my social media accounts destroyed any temptation to pry into the lives of the men I had a crush on or the ones that didn't treat me right. What good was seeing them happy with someone else as I sat at home scrolling through their pictures in my oversized sweatpants and my hair in a high messy bun? I couldn't afford to be discontent looking at the achievements of others all while wondering when or if my time would ever come along.
Though I desired to be claimed in a relationship, I really needed to be freed from mental bondage.
I deleted and blocked all male phone numbers as well. I didn't need to roll over over on a lonely night and try to conjure up a meaningless conversation just for the illusion that someone is "there." The truth is, those lonely nights came and, from time to time, I still have them, but I refuse to make emotional decisions for the sake of not being lonely or to possibly receive a half-felt "good morning" text.
There had to be boundaries, even for myself.
Focusing on myself helped me to build confidence. I began to wear what I wanted without thinking twice if my shirt or pants hugged my curves in a way that was displeasing to a guy. My confidence was noticed by my friends and family. My finances were outstanding. I was thriving at work. I'd finally learned how to channel that energy. I channeled it inward.
I am now 30 and I must say that four years of not dating has gone by quickly. I didn't intend for it to last this long, but it has. It has been a journey that was not a part of my timeline, yet it was needed. For once, dating isn't a priority for me. The truth is, I'm no longer afraid of being single. The love of my life is myself.