It’s true what they say: with age comes wisdom.
Regarding being wiser within relationships, I believe it to be a combination of age, experience and self-respect. It might seem outlandish that a person who has remained romantically single for over 5 years and has whittled her friend group down to less than a handful would be proud of those numbers, but for me it’s a sign of growth and raising my standards. In looking back over the years at the things I tolerated and accepted that ultimately stunted my personal growth for the sake of companionship, a small circle of friends and being self-sufficient is far better than the alternative.
The idea for this article came to me as I was paying my monthly expenses. Each pay period, I go ahead and pay up all my bills that fall within that cycle, that way I can budget what is leftover accordingly and know I’ve covered the must have’s before spending on something frivolous. As I sat here watching my bank account dwindle, I strangely felt a sense of pride. While it doesn’t feel great to hand out my hard-earned money to property managers, Verizon and Citi Bank month after month, it does feel good to know I alone am able to handle my business. I’ve built a lifestyle I enjoy and don’t have to rely on anyone else to expense it, which comes with the luxury of not having to tolerate anything that brings aggravation to my life. Becoming self-sufficient has empowered me because now I know my worth and treat my relationships like any other investment; is it going to add value to what I currently have or is it going to drive my stock down?
In my potential romantic relationships, I’ve created a mental list of questions that I tick off as I get to know someone. I live an amazing, fulfilling and busy life. For me to allow someone to disrupt that, they are going to have to be able to offer an enhancement, something better than what I’m currently giving myself. If they can’t - or worse - they subtract from my current joy, why would I bother?
For example, I love my home space. I love the location, the neighborhood, the city. Within my home, nothing brings me greater joy than keeping it tidy and smelling good, furnished with whites and pastels, and free from clutter. I revel in the fact I get to watch unlimited Golden Girls any time I want, I can eat cold pasta in front of the fridge in my underwear with abandon, and I get 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep with my little dog like a starfish in the middle of my all-white bed. If I become involved with someone, they are going to disrupt this thing that brings me so much happiness. It might be a positive disruption, like they could be someone to snuggle with or turn me on to a new favorite show, or teach me to cook something new. But it also could be a negative disruption; they might snore all night, leave water and toothpaste all over the bathroom sink, or eat all my groceries. That devalues my life, brings me more work and headache, so why would I bother? As I get to know someone I must ask, if I already love my home this much why should I let you in if you’re not going to give me something I don’t already have? Are you going to be neat and respectful of my space or even clean? Down the road, can you offer me a nicer or larger home than I can offer myself? Are you going to help me sleep better at night or are you going to keep me awake with tossing and turning or worse, with anxiety? If you’re not adding value to my home, you have to go because you’re driving down the market average.
I also have enough experience under my belt to know I’ve endured the most painful moments of my life alone and survived. I don’t need a shoulder to cry on; sure it would be nice, but its not necessary. So looking down the road to things that I might face – aging parents, inflation, unexpected job loss, illness, an alien invasion - are you going to alleviate stress during these hardships, or are you going to add to them? Will you stand by me at my lowest point or are you going to dip out and save yourself? If you’re not going to be of assistance when the going gets tough, you’ve got to get going.
Even with friendships, I no longer have the energy to invest into dead end situations that are holding me back. Sadly, people grow at different rates, down different paths, and sometimes those paths come to a fork and you must go separate ways. If your goals don’t align with mine, if our futures don’t look similar, if you’re not working as hard or harder than me for big things, it is only going to hold me back. I’ve had to learn the hard way that you can’t want health and happiness for someone more than they want it for themselves, so you have to release it, or it will consume your life too. You’re the sum total of the 5 people you spend the most time with; look around and if they aren’t living the life you want, why are you immersing yourself in it?
I suggest that every single woman I know curate the same list for herself, even write it down to remind yourself that YOU are an asset. YOU are your biggest and best investment. Stop devaluing yourself by tolerating things that subtract joy from your life just to have companionship. Build a life all on your own that makes you so happy, you don’t even notice if someone is there to enjoy it with you. It will make you very selective in who you grant access to and serve for higher quality partners and friends in the future.