Love Sabbatical Lessons: 15 Things I’ve Learned from Six Years Of Singledom

August 9, 2013  |  
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I’ve moved past the embarrassment of telling people that my last relationship (and first real one) was six years ago. Time flies when you’re living single. Admittedly, I moped about the lull initially, but by being an observer of the mating game rather than a participant, I’ve picked up on some pretty nifty stuff along the way. Here’s what I’ve learned about myself and the state of dating from watching, reminiscing, imagining, and reflecting during my love life sabbatical.

The concept of “girlfriending” has escaped me. I don’t remember how to be a girlfriend anymore. The old feelings I had as one are foggy when I try to recollect them. The idea of being someone’s lady seems so thrilling in my head, but I can’t help but feel that when the opportunity comes knocking, I’m going to be an awkward turtle. He’ll be dating an inexperienced pre-teen all over again…

Handholding is the best kind of PDA. Kids kiss during games of truth or dare and spin the bottle. Teenagers make it to second base with a little bit of liquid courage. Adults sleep together just to satisfy a quick itch. All can be done with zero emotions behind them. But handholding is such a sign of intimacy and belonging, at least to me. I’m not going to interlock fingers with just anybody, especially not in public. You’ve got to be very close to my heart.

The same kinds of men gravitate to me every single time, and I’m not sure if I like that. Illustrators, photographers, videographers, screenwriters, poets and other journalists are the only one’s whose eyes I catch. Then Rastas. Artists. More Rastas and artists. And toss in a dollar van driver from time to time. I guess it’s because of the energy and look I give off as well as my occupation. I’m a writer, photographer, and artist sporting an afro; it’s a fair attraction. But I wonder if the trend is due solely to the circles I move with or if it’s really just me? Am I destined to be with someone just like me? What happened to the old adage of “Opposites attract”?

I may not know what I want, but I sure know what I don’t want. Of course we all want a college-educated, God-loving, and me-loving man, but there’s a gray area of things that I want in a man versus what I need. Trust me when I say I’m not a picky girl and I believe in compromise and improvement. However, I have a mental list of deal breakers I don’t feel the need to “just let slide” in hopes of landing a partner. I’ve always envied ladies 5’5″ and under because they’re never hard pressed to find a taller man. At 5’8″, I still find myself having a few inches on more guys than I’m comfortable with. Regardless of how much of a cutie he is, if he’s shorter than me in flats, the attraction turns off (I want to able to kiss up, not straight ahead or down). Secondly, if a man has no ambition, goals or the desire to outdo himself, I can’t get with it. I’m a big dreamer and love a person invested in fulfilling their heart’s desires. Last but not least, I under no circumstances want my guy to be involved in or use drugs (or smoky substances). So no 420 celebrations. Yes, I’m aware of what a rare find that’s going to be given the recreational habits of my generation. And with that being said…

Finding a guy that doesn’t smoke weed is like searching for a leprechaun. Locating an herbally-sober man calls for a scavenger hunt. He’s the needle in a haystack. A dense percentage of my circle of friends frequently vacation on Cloud 9, and so do their networks (remember, I mingle with deep-thinking, poetic, artsy folk). I’m not judging them or knocking them for it. Puff away. I don’t have to go back home with them. I don’t want to live that life with my significant other. I really, really don’t. It’s just a personal thing. Who wants a household with lingering smells? No weed, cigarettes, cloves, blacks, cigars, anything. Wish me luck, ya’ll.

Dating lingo is confusing. The average twenty-something dater needs a separate glossary. Remember when it was just as simple as dating, going steady, engagement then marriage? It’s not so clear anymore. Is saying someone is your boyfriend the same as saying he is your man, hubby, cuddle buddy, or boo-thang? Is “talking” more serious than “dating,” or is it the other way around? Does seeing each other or “going with” each other mean there’s a title involved? What does being exclusive actually mean? Being exclusively intimate or being the most consistent girl on his arm? With folks juggling courting and cuffing and all these other blurred lines, it’s really hard to figure out where you stand.

Surprisingly, I’ve never prayed for a man. It’s strange. I’m a Christian woman with a lot of God-fearing, heavy-praying friends, yet I’ve never felt the need or been told to put “a man” on my prayer list. I mean, now it seems like a “duh,” but when a pigtailed me learned to kneel down and pray, I was thanking God for family, health and happiness. That was about as deep as it got. So now, I’m still not programmed to do it. I recently read a post where a newlywed claimed she rejects the premise of praying for a soul mate. You choose who you want to fall in love with and be with forever, the writer argues. He or she isn’t going to fall from the sky the minute you wish on it. I don’t agree nor disagree, but it does have me thinking if I should really invest more prayer space for Mr. Right.

I’m not a sexual being. The idea of cuddling, forehead kisses, looking dopily into someone’s eyes, and exploring life hand-in-hand excites me way more than my friends’ many tales of bed sheet rendezvous. My heart reacts more than my body does to the idea of a boo-thang. Urges don’t faze me much and casual sex is just a no.

I wouldn’t have any clue of what to expect on a date these days. Ever heard of the $200 date debate? As folks on Twitter went back and forth about whether one should expect or offer a pricey night out with no physical promises, I’m busy pondering what the ideal date even is anymore. I can’t say I’ve been on many real dates, and if it was indeed a “date,” neither he nor I called it that.

When a relationship comes along, I’m pretty sure it’s going to burst my bubble.
I spend so much time in my mind creating what-if scenarios (and on YouTube watching viral proposal and wedding dance videos) that when things start getting serious between me and a guy, I’ll have a laundry list of [family friendly] things that I hope we do together. Those things probably won’t happen as imagined.

Major holidays are unknown territory. Since none of my very short-lived relationships have ever fallen on any major couple-y holidays, my first experience is going to be either disastrous or one to remember. I’ve enjoyed all the birthdays, Christmas holidays, New Years and Valentine’s Days as a single woman. It’s funny; I can’t even picture it any other way.

My family is equally as concerned about my love life as my career. My family has always cheered me on from school days to my current life as a freelance writer, but when it gets to boy talk, it’s weird. When some of my cousins ask for the scoop on my love life, I have no tea to spill. Even my pastor has been asking if I have romantic ties to Washington, D.C., which is the site of my alma mater (I don’t, if you were wondering).

Marriage is actually not on my mind…yet. While I want a faithful cuddle buddy, wedding bells aren’t ringing anywhere in my thoughts. It’s such a scary and permanent concept. I know I want that in life, but right now it’s such a far away thing. Like when I was 12 and thinking about people going away to college, it just didn’t seem real. I just knew the people on ‘Boy Meets World‘ did it. Same thing now. It’s becoming a little more plausible as several of my girlfriends are currently sporting engagement rings, but it hasn’t moved wedding bliss any higher on my personal to-do list.

Before I can give my heart to someone, I have to be my “perfect me” first. I like me a lot, but I’m not head over heels in love with me just yet. I need to be before I devote myself to someone else. I love hard, and loving my boyfriend-fiancé-husband needs to just be an extension of my day. No one has time for second guessing myself or days of low self-esteem levels. Confidence and self-sufficiency needs to ooze from my pores. When my beau loves my spirit, my body, my hair, my family, my friends, my career and my choices, I need to love them all, too.

The person I end up with will be my best friend. I have my days where I don’t feel like I have a best friend. I know that’s not true because I have many best friends, my little sister included, but sometimes I feel like I can’t tell them everything. My feelings, secrets, and personalities are split amongst my different best friends. That’s just the way it’s always been. I want a no holds barred friendship with the guy that’ll become “the one.” He’ll be the total package (I hope).

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