Individual identity is crucial to having a successful relationship

I thought I was a serial dater, one of those people who are always in a relationship or constantly searching for the flavour of the week.

I had spent my formative years in a long-term relationship that became common-law at the ripe age of 19. My boyfriend worked a full-time job while I played student and doting housewife to his immense delight.

I am not someone who submits to men – most people would probably envision me as a rather enthusiastic feminist – but by nurturing my partner I was en route to eternal bliss… wasn’t I?
Well, I can say with a resounding “no” that investing my happiness in someone else was by far the worst idea my friends and family have ever allowed me to believe.

Since the birth of my singledom, I have noticed that the content of my girlfriends’ speech habits, single or in a relationship, on a regular basis, is focused around men: lovers, boyfriends and one-night stands now seem to fill my aural experience.

I do not believe that love or relationships are bad, nor am I bitter.

They are extremely important – discussing problems or expressing your happiness to friends should be welcomed, but I am beginning to wonder about the other things that are important to who we are.

What about our own hobbies, passions or dreams?

Are we allowing ourselves to simply be defined by our romantic relationships?

Relationships can become a dangerous thing; they elicit intoxicating feelings of passion and irrationality and we become addicted to people being in our lives, which make us feel as though our lives are worthwhile.

However, it is inevitable that relationships will end – one day that person will no longer be next to you and you will never know when that day will be.

Author Jo Coudert once wrote, “You do not need to be loved, not at the cost of yourself. The single relationship that is truly central and crucial in a life is the relationship to the self. Of all the people you will know in a lifetime, you are the only one you will never lose.”

The one thing I have learned from my common-law debacle was that we must learn the things that cannot be compromised and stand up for them in the face of love.

We must begin to ask ourselves, “If the person we love is gone, what, at the end of the day, will make me happy? What do I have for myself?”

In my year thus far of being single, I have discovered my sense of independence and have realized that being alone does not automatically mean one is lonely.

The pleasure I experience just from the complete freedom to do everything I enjoy without question is unexplainable.

When you find your own interests, the pressure on a relationship is alleviated.
Instead of being one couple bound together and defined by each other, you are two individuals contributing your own identities to the dynamic of the relationship adding to the continuous discovery of each other.

It is too easy to get caught up in chasing after love; though I would argue that it may be worthwhile, in the long-run, to truly know yourself and be happy with who you are will become invaluable.