I’m sure you're familiar with the common expression “they’re a relationship person”, or “Relationship Girl” before.
For some reason that expression doesn’t really translate for men, and I guess that’s because they aren’t really affected the same way by the cliché. The expression refers to someone who just always seems to be getting into one relationship after another. Someone who’s natural instinct and rhythm it is to just go through life with someone by their side. Someone who cannot be alone.
History shows, that I’m a Relationship girl. Or at least, that’s how I’ve come to think of myself in the past based on how other people have seen me. I don’t have a problem with the concept of being a “Relationship Girl”—after all, it is true. Since I was little, all I’ve wanted to do is settle down. I don’t mean settle down in a white picket fence and suburban lifestyle kind of way. What I mean by settle down, is that finding my life partner, someone to love and to build a life with, has always, even subconsciously, been the single most important thing to me. Again, I really don’t mean in a Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother type of way. I just mean that whether I’ve been aware of it or not, or looking for it or not, or even chosen it or not, the thing that has always seemed to give my life meaning has been the love I can feel for another person. No matter how smooth sailing or tumultuous it’s been.
The one thing that has always bothered me about people labeling someone a “Relationship girl” though, is I find this expression has come to carry a really negative connotation that this person is always in relationships because they love themselves less than someone who chooses to be single. Because if they’re always in a relationship, they must obviously need the love and support of another person to feel happy and secure in themselves and in who they are, right?
What a ridiculous thought.
This might be the case for some people, and if it is, that’s still totally okay. They’re living and learning and discovering who they are and what they love. In my teenage years and super early 20s (I’m still just 22), I definitely wasn’t as comfortable with myself and being in my skin as I am now. That was often reflected in the more immature behaviour I showed towards partners in earlier relationships. But to naturally assume someone continuously seeks out love and partnership because of a lack of self-love and confidence, in my mind, reduces them and their ability to feel so deeply to nothing but a shallow shell of who they actually might be.
I genuinely think that some people just want to love and be loved. I think that’s what gives some people's lives meaning.
Not in a way that means they find no meaning in anything else, or in any individual endeavours, but just that nothing truly comes as close to what it feels like to connect so deeply with another human being. Nothing really makes sense or feels completely whole without that person to share things with. I think it’s a shame that so many people still think this is weak and something lesser to strive towards.
There are so many things we've been conditioned to associate with being confident and single and independent, like achievement, career growth, and personal success. These are traits that our society seems to deem more valuable than anything else, and they’re things we’ve been taught we need to be alone for, in theory, to truly succeed at. They’re also things we’ve been taught to want and need, to truly be seen as successful.
I’m making a go at all this stuff myself right now, by studying and working towards my individual goals out here in Berlin. Investing this time in myself and my growth and knowing I am doing it on my own, is insanely rewarding and makes me proud and pleased with myself and my tangible achievements. But I can’t completely change who I am, and it doesn’t change the fact that as incredible as spending time alone is, it is not what gives me purpose. I think being honest with yourself helps though, instead of constantly trying to force yourself to be motivated by the things you know aren’t actually going to motivate you.
I get the impression that most young people feel they have this big exciting life to live as a single entity before they find their match and have to settle down for a “grown up” life together. They feel like they need to figure themselves out and be a set, defined person before partnering with another. I don’t know why I see it as quite the opposite, but I always have. I’ve always wanted to meet my person young so we can start building a life together and attain our goals alongside each other, while sharing youth and memories and experiences with one another. I don’t crave partnership because I'd rather latch on to someone else’s goals, or because I need the love of another to love myself. But just because I prefer alone time, together. Progressing individually, together. Evolving, together.
I’ve always been a Relationship Girl, and for the first time in 7 years, right now I’m not. It’s a funny thing, to live in the paradox where loving another person gives your life and work its meaning, but time alone is what really allows you to invest in yourself and your work.
Maybe this alone time will be what ends up making me successful? Or maybe, for people like me, loving another human being is the only thing that will ever really make us be the most of what we are.
Maybe, with time, there is a way to learn to be it all.