Love & Relationships – Partners & Patience

I want to preface this post by acknowledging that I wrote this a few months ago when I was feeling really lost and anxious when it came to love and relationships. I was putting a lot pressure on myself to make “progress” in my dating life. I felt like to make “progress” I needed to get into a relationship, or at least get closer to one. But I couldn’t control who I was meeting, and how we felt about each other. Ultimately, I decided to take a little break from dating. During that time I started to realize how much progress I actually had made. In dating the “wrong” people, I learned what I don’t want out of a partner, and, consequently, what I do want. I also learned that I don’t need to sit around waiting for a partner to bring romance into my life.

I decided to share this post now, because while I’m feeling much less angsty about my dating life, a lot of the sentiment still rings true. I have good days and bad days, which usually correspond with good dates and bad dates. Love and relationships is also something back in the forefront of my mind, with Valentines day right around the corner. In the spirit of not sitting and waiting for a partner, I decided to be my own Valentine this year. I bought myself flowers, and chocolate and bought myself gifts. It feels good and empowering to be able to do these things for myself, and it makes me a little less impatient.

I don’t know if there’s anything more profoundly frustrating than being single in your mid-late 20’s. 

Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic. Sure, there are plenty more objectively aggravating aspects of life, but being single and dating in your 20’s has to be up there. Especially as someone who considers herself a strong, independent woman…and a bit of a hopeless romantic. 

There’s a part of me that’s content with my life. Actually, I am content with my life. I have a great apartment in a fantastic city that I’ve only begun to explore. I have friends nearby that I’m lucky enough to see regularly, and other friends farther away that give me an excuse to travel. I’m healthy and running regularly, and I’m fueling my body right. I have somehow begun to find little joy in each and every day. I have a good life, and I am happy. 

But still, I’m single. 

I have been enjoying going on dates every now and again. Dating hasn’t been high on my priority list, but it’s been fun, and a great way to explore different parts of the city and to try new and different things. I’ve gotten to a point where going on dates is pleasant and not painful. So that’s good, right?

Still, I go through periods where I feel hopeless, like I’ll never meet quite the right person. I think maybe I should be less focused on having fun and more dialed in on finding “Mr. Right.”

I know no of that is true, and that the right person will come into my life at the right time. I also worry that if I do meet someone I like, I’ll lose my sense of self, and I feel that I need more time to define myself on my own terms. Then I think that if I do take the time to work on myself and I become even more independent and self-assured that then no one will want to be with me. But, then again, why I would I want to be with anyone who felt threatened by someone who is secure in themselves. Better to be alone than to be stifled by the patriarchy, right? 

Or is it?

I’m getting to a point where all of my friends are coupling up, if they haven’t already. Some of my closest friends who I leaned on as my “single friends” pre-pandemic have now found themselves in serious relationships. While I am happy for them, I can’t help but feel jealous and impatient, because it feels like it’s never going to happen for me. And not only that, but as my friends couple up around me, there’s an unspoken pressure for me to do the same. 

Maybe it’s ridiculous and I’m just being dramatic (Me? Dramatic?!), but I have moments where I feel self-conscious and guilty for asking some of my coupled friends to hang out. Sometimes I just want a friend to get coffee with, or come over and watch a movie. Those things feel easy to do with my single friends, but when I look at my coupled friends, I see that they have someone to do those things with all the time, especially now that the more established couples are moving in together. Being in a relationship means having an automatic partner for all the little things in life. 

For the most part, I’m content to do things on my own. I’ve reached a point in my self-love journey where I can finally appreciate my own company. I enjoy my Friday morning walks to get coffee while I listen to one of my favorite podcasts. I even find joy in a quiet Saturday night, getting takeout and watching a movie or show I’ve probably seen a thousand times before. (Watching A Cinderella Story and falling asleep on my couch is one of my favorite hobbies).  

Most of the time I don’t even crave a relationship, I just don’t want to always be alone. 

Ultimately, I do want to be able to share my life with someone. I want to share the joy and happiness I find in each day with a partner who does the same in return. And so, as I tip into the latter half of my twenties, I begin to lose patience and wonder if I’ll ever find my person – my partner. 

I’ve seen how wonderful and full life with the right person can be, I’ve seen it happen for my best friend and her college boyfriend, now husband. I wrote a similar post over a year ago when she got engaged, and now I write again as I just attended her wedding. 

I wrote a year ago that I was okay with where I was in my life, that I was happy for my friend being in love and engaged, while also being happy and content with going through life solo. And that was true, and it’s still true. 

What’s changed in the past year is that I’ve begun to crave the kind of companionship my friends have. I spent over a year “working on myself.” I didn’t date, I wasn’t trying to meet anyone. I spent my time doing the things that bring me joy, like running, writing, exploring, taking pictures and videos to capture the little but very important  moments of life. As a result, I have a stronger sense of self and identity, and I’m happier than ever. 

So now I face the fears and frustrations of dating and seeking out a relationship in your 20s. 

The scary part about that is, it means I have to feel things. It means subjecting myself to potentially getting hurt. When I meet someone I connect with, I get my hopes up that this could be something real.

The problem is, I have yet to establish a connection where those feelings are reciprocated. It’s frustrating to put yourself out there, see the potential and hope it turns into something just to have those hopes crushed over and over again. I often leave a situation wishing I never met this person or I didn’t feel the things I do.

I’ve continued to see guys I don’t feel a strong connection or attraction to because it feels safer. I guess the hope is that feelings will develop over time, but in truth, I just don’t want to risk get hurt. 

Then, out of the blue, I’ll meet someone who makes me feel something special, and I rethink things. Sometimes I want to run away when I feel my heart skip a beat when he looks at me, because pursuing feelings like that means risking getting hurt. 

But, at the same time, I’d give anything to feel that way every day. To be inspired by someone. To feel heard by them, understood. To have someone special to share those mundane but beautiful moments with. Someone who sees life through the same beautiful and broken lens that I do. 

So I don’t give up. As frustrating and disappointing as it may be, I won’t give up. I believe in love. I believe that life can be incredibly special when shared with another person. And just because I haven’t met him yet, doesn’t mean he’s not out there. 

So I have patience. I trust in the universe, and I hope that my future partner is out there being patient too. 

Typically I write and share this posts with my friends, with the intention that they will relate. But this time I write because many of my friends don’t relate. Still, I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. If you’re reading this and you relate to the impatience, frustrations, and loneliness of being single in your 20’s, I want you to know that you’re not alone. And if you ever want someone to get a coffee with, I’ll be there, even if it’s just in spirit. 

I think that knowing you’re not alone makes the trials and tribulations of dating in your 20’s a little less painful. Because, at the end of the day, that’s all we really want, isn’t it? Someone who understands us and who we can share and experience life with. So, for now, we’re at least in it together. 

A Holiday Romance – for one.

I love Christmas. There’s something about pine trees, snow flurries, and seeing the whole city lit up in festive lights that makes my heart smile. It’s a time of love and romance. The chilly weather makes you want to cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie, or curl up with a good book. But for some of us, who don’t have someone to share it with, the holiday’s can be lonely. 

It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a good Hallmark movie. Yes, they are objectively terrible and overly predictably, but I think the bad acting and simple plot line is all part of the draw. I know what I’m getting into when I watch a Hallmark movie, and I know there’s going to be a happy ending.

I love the idea of a holiday romance. I think that’s the reason I enjoy the movies so much. I really find the holiday’s objectively romantic. Maybe it’s the twinkle lights that cover the city with a romantic glow, or the horse-drawn carriages that popped up at the park across the street. Or maybe it’s that I want someone to wander the holiday shops with, or to share a hot chocolate with. Or maybe it’s that nearly every Christmas song is about falling in love, finding someone to love, or spending time with the one you love. At this point, love and romance are synonymous with the holiday season. 

This will be my third consecutive year spending the holiday’s unattached. In the past, I fantasized that I was the main character in a hallmark movies. I think I used to develop a crush on nearly anyone who talked to me during the entire month of December. I let myself get pulled into the belief system that you need a partner in order to have romance at Christmas. But this December, that’s not going to be the case. I’m determined to have a holiday romance…with myself. 

I find that too often we believe that the only way to have romance in our lives is to be involved in some sort of love affair. But I don’t think that’s true. I think that we can find romance in many aspects of life. So this holiday season, I’ll be romancing myself. Here are a few ideas for how you can do the same: 

Buy yourself flowers. There’s nothing more romantic that receiving a fresh flower arrangement. Why do we have to wait for one to arrive on our doorstep from some mysterious admirer when we can go out and buy the flowers ourselves. I’m sucker for a nice holiday poinsettia, but roses are also festive and classic.

Go ice skating…or maybe just watch. Where I live, in Center City Philadelphia, an ice rink just opened at City Hall. I’ll often walk by to watch the skaters and get caught up in the holiday magic. I’m a little wary to get on the ice myself as I wiped out pretty badly the last time I went skating, but maybe I’ll talk some friends into joining me for an evening skate one night this month.

Wander a Christmas Tree Farm. Where I grew up there are many beautiful tree farms, and I love going and shopping for the perfect tree. I think there’s something so warm and romantic about wandering a tree-farm, the scent of pine filling your heart with holiday romance. 

Romanticize your holiday shopping.  It’s no secret that shopping is one of my favorite things to do, and I love it all the more around the holiday’s. To romanticize my shopping trip I’ll put on a cute and festive outfit and wander around the city shops. If you’re lucky enough to live in or near a big city with a Christmas market, that’s the perfect place to wander and shop. Or, if you live in a small town, try the local shops there. My hometown has a beautiful Christmas gift shop that I love browse this time of year. My goal this holiday season is to buy all, or nearly all, of my holiday gifts from local places around where I live in Philadelphia, and just enjoy the process. 

Wrap the gifts. I absolutely love wrapping presents. Part of my Christmas shopping routine is find the perfect wrapping paper, ribbons, and other accessories. Once my shopping is done, I’ll pick a night to put on a favorite Christmas movie, light festive candles, and wrap all of my gifts. Then I’ll fill in the base of my tree with the wrapped gifts. It’s an art, really. 

Spend time with the people you love. Just because you’re not in love doesn’t mean there aren’t people you love and enjoy spending time with. I feel very lucky to have a wonderful group of friends where I live now and I’m looking forward to spending time with them this holiday season. I’m also lucky enough to live close to my sister. It’s simple, but the two of us are going to get festive manicures together this weekend – I’m really looking forward to it. 

Take yourself out on a date. Eating alone can be incredibly scary and intimidating if you’ve never done it before. I like to bring a book to read, or my notebook to journal. Sometimes I’ll just sit and enjoy my own thoughts and company. Taking myself out on a romantic date for one is one of my goals this holiday season. I think it’s even more romantic to sit and enjoy your own company than trying to make conversation on an awkward first date. 

Be a tourist. I love spending a free weekend being a tourist in my own city. For the holiday’s I enjoy getting a festive drink from Starbucks and exploring a new neighborhood, or wandering the same ones I typically frequent. I adore walking Walnut street in Philly, and sitting in Rittenhouse Square with a warm drink. There’s something so incredibly romantic about a warm drink and sitting in a city park. If you don’t live in city, driving around to see the neighborhood lights and decorations can be just as magical. When I’m home my sisters and I like to put on our favorite holiday music, get lattes or hot chocolate, and drive the scenic roads around where we grew up. It’s simple, but it makes my heart happy. 

Take a day-trip. Where I grew up in Connecticut was just two hours from New York City, so my favorite thing to do around the holiday’s was to take a day trip into the city. Whether we saw a show, or went shopping, or just wandered by the tree at Rockefeller Center, I loved spending time in NYC at Christmas. I truly don’t think there’s anyplace more romantic than NYC at Christmas. Even if you don’t live close to NYC, there are so many magical places around the holiday season.

Treat yourself to a holiday brunch. I used to think I needed an excuse to indulge, but there’s absolutely no reason you can’t make yourself some cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs and spend a morning watching your favorite Christmas movie. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of the holiday season so I think we could all use a slow morning to rest and re-fuel. 

No matter where you are, who you’re with, or what you do, there are endless possibilities for having a romantic holiday season. And learning to find romance in being alone takes a lot of the pressure off finding someone around the holiday season.