I have standards – that is a fact. When I was young, fairy tales told me to wait for a handsome rich Prince to come and rescue me from life.
When I was a little older, cartoons taught me that he would have magical powers, be special, grant me wishes and always do the right thing. When I was a teen, I discovered Audrey Hepburn and 007 movies which showed me that a man might be a singer or a secret spy, but he would always behave like a gentleman.
Then, I started dating.
I must say, I was not impressed by what reality had to offer. Not at all. But I ploughed on and on, trying to find a needle in a haystack. Where was that romantic, special, mythical hunk I had read and heard so much about? Needless to say, I was mightily disappointed – again and again and again.
In my early twenties, I tried to take a reality check. Were all the guys I went out with and/or met really not good for me, or were my standards too high to be realistically achievable?
And it was then that I made my big mistake – I lowered those standards. I hadn’t forgotten that legendary fairy tale Prince Charming everyone had been gaga about for so long, it just meant that I rightfully relegated him to fantasy-land and put my feet firmly on the ground. It also meant that I REALLY lowered my standards, in that I let certain guys get close to me. These men had no real depth of feeling, no respect and no real affection towards me even though they led me to believe that they actually did. In other words, I just exchanged one fairy tale for another, never realising that no matter how good the sex is, one can’t continue to ‘suffer’ a long-term relationship, which should never even have begun in the first place.
Again, there came a time when I threw up my hands in metaphorical disgust, not just at others but also at myself. I took a step backwards and looked at the mess I had made of things, trying not only to juggle my studies, work, problems at home and existential issues, but at the same time never actually being capable of achieving a balance between my high standards and reality.
As the clichéd phrase tells us, ‘No one is perfect,’ and yet, does this mean that we have to put up with everything in order not to be single? Lying, cheating, bullying, facing issues of low self-esteem, or partners with god-like complexes, not to mention boredom and/or being forced to live a life we are not interested in, just to have someone by our side? In that case, I simply decided, it was much much better to be single and happily in love with my freedom, than entangle myself in a relationship just to be able to say that I had a ‘boyfriend’ or that I was someone’s ‘other half’. That, I guess, is part of growing up.
Perhaps it sounds obvious and overly facile to most – after all, we’ve read enough empowering articles and posters about how great it is to be single, to last a lifetime. And yes, it IS great to be single. However, admit it, it is also lonely, because no matter how many friends you have, how many great times, how many loving family members, and how many hobbies – mammals are wired to live in pairs. Not only that, but society, the media, and the whole world at times seem to be conspiring in order to force us to find someone, marry and have children, since that is the way ‘the world works,’ and what we are ‘supposed to do’.
And I don’t agree with that at all. So here we are, with people parading their single life on Facebook and saying they don’t need a partner to be happy, which I agree with on principle, since if you are not happy with yourself, then you will never be truly fulfilled as an individual. However, these same individuals, at times, sound like they are just desperately trying to convince themselves that it’s true, while not really being sure of it.
On the other hand, we have those couples orgiastically posting their relfies (relationship selfies) all over the place, sending lovey-dovey slow songs, being tagged in smoochy statuses and generally having a party while shoving it down everybody’s throat – as though not being single was their primary achievement in life.
Being single is great fun. Being in a relationship with the right person is awesome. Standards are important, but one should not sacrifice one’s happiness for every little teensy imperfection. People are messy and life is confusing. These are all things which I’ve learnt and which have made me grow up as an adult and as a woman.
Love cannot be defined. I cannot in all honesty say that I will never be stupid, never make mistakes, never be totally sure of what I am doing. The most I can say is that at this point, at least I know who I am and I know what I deserve.
I know that fairy tales and dreams are not reality, but that life lived without some magic in it is mediocre and boring. So yes, put your foot down, set your standards, make yourself heard, and never be ashamed of who you are, because whether you are single, married, in a complicated relationship, or whatever, the most important relationship you will ever have, is the one you have with yourself.