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I have a disconcerting habit of keeping some people around longer than I should. So it’s sadly no surprise that I stayed in a “situationship” that looked like a committed relationship, but wasn’t, for way too long. For two years, I spent my time, energy, and effort on a man who could never actually be mine. We didn’t want the same things for our future, and yet, I didn’t feel like starting over with anyone else.

At the time, I made plenty of excuses as to why it made sense to continue the dysfunctional relationship, but in hindsight, it was probably one of the dumbest decisions I’ve made in my adult life, and trust me, I’ve made some less than smart ones. So why did I waste more than 24 months on an in-the-meantime situation? It all boils down to complacency–and a less than positive outlook on dating. Basically, I was tired of dating and also sick and tired of being sick and tired of dating. I’d secretly given up hope (at least for the time being) that there was someone out there for me. And frankly, I was too tired of the dating woes to go out on the scene and find out.

I wrote an article during the tenure of my two-year situationship entitled, “Why We Sometimes Settle,” so I was fully aware that I was playing myself. I was making a conscious effort to devote most of my time to an in-the-meantime man while putting other potential available suitors on hold. And yes, guys were attempting to put their bid in, but I wasn’t buying into them. I was quite comfortable with the man I was in a fake-me-out relationship with. We had fun together, and I genuinely liked having him around. But that wasn’t enough.

One of my older friends simply couldn’t understand my choice. She flat-out asked me, “How in the hell does a woman in her early 30s get tired of dating and give up hope?” She added that I had plenty of years left in me to sit around and settle for whatever came my way. This was my time to enjoy dating, and if it were meant to be, I would find someone worthy and settle down soon enough. In her opinion, it most certainly wasn’t the time to simply settle with a much older man who had made it clear that he didn’t want kids or to be married, despite the fact that I wanted those things.

Still, I knew his routine. I was comfortable being around him. He was like a really great friend with added benefits. I didn’t feel like meeting a new man and getting to know him. I was also very uncertain if it would ever work out for me, and was trying to come to terms with the fact that maybe I’m just not meant to be married.

So these array of emotions coupled with the fact that I felt that a woman had a better chance of meeting a good man at a strip club than in the city I currently reside in, my vision was clouded and my optimism nonexistent. I realized for two years I’d completely given up on love, and my in-the-meantime man was my crutch to hold on to the little bit of hope I had left that I could get along with a man who I enjoyed and who enjoyed me. I realized, I wasn’t just settling when it came to relationships, I was settling when it came to my thinking and the future.

So after losing two years of a proper dating life, what am I doing now to make sure this somber story doesn’t replay itself in my life? Actually, I’m not sure. After constantly interviewing people about relationships for articles I’m working on, listening to horror stories, and replaying my own tumultuous tales, I’m still having a hard time doing as the late Ms. Maya Angelou advised: “trust love one more time.” While I’ve ‘deaded’ my two-year situationship with no intention of going back, my dating life is certainly not enviable. Partly because I still don’t feel like putting in extra effort and I’m still somewhat jaded about past experiences. In no way am I saying this is the way I want to continue, but I’ve yet to figure out how to actually give it another shot. But if I was ever lucky enough to have Oprah randomly ask me her infamous question of “What do you know for sure?” I would say with conviction that I know I wouldn’t allow myself to waste anymore time on another man who could never really be mine.

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