This year marks the first Valentine’s Day I’ve spent as a single lady in several years. Recognizing this landmark was undoubtedly disheartening in many ways, especially when I realized that being single isn’t as always glamorous as Beyoncé music videos make it seem. (This became abundantly clear Sunday night, when thousands of couples were celebrating and I was at home eating ramen noodles and watching “Lord of the Rings” with my cat.)
But the day also forced me to reflect on the relationships I’ve had in the past, why they ended and my decisions that led to where I am now, relationship-wise. And then I remembered why, underneath all the lingering bitterness, I genuinely appreciate my life as a bachelorette.
The first reason is pretty obvious. Maybe I’m just not as good at maintaining relationships as some other people are, but with most of my ex-boyfriends, at the end of the rope, all we did was argue over petty things like who forgot to put the cheese back in the refrigerator. Having been single for awhile, I look back on days that I spent upset or otherwise in a bad mood over some silly argument I had with my boyfriend earlier in the day and wonder why I let myself brood like that.
Plus, having a boyfriend is not like having a best friend. Whereas I can just say, “Jessica, shut up, you’re being stupid,” to my best friend without her getting offended, I could have never told this to an old boyfriend — lest it lead to that dreaded “it’s-not-just-what-you-said-but-how-you-said-it” argument. God help me if I ever have to suffer through one of those again. And while not having to deal with someone else makes my days feel a lot more spacious, this can be interpreted as empty or as liberating.
On top of that, one of my biggest pet peeves, along with getting your pant legs wet when it’s raining, is definitely being referred to as someone’s “girlfriend” instead of by my own name. I felt like, especially in my last long-term relationship where my boyfriend was a lot more outgoing and knew a lot more people than I did, I was continually shunted into this little box and only ever known as “his girlfriend.”
Since I’ve been single for the last half year, I’ll admit that while it’s been challenging getting out there and meeting new people — and once even rolling up to a party solo, which is a lot scarier than it should be — establishing your own identity is something that everyone needs to do at some point. So these days I may be “that creepy chick that always Facebook-stalks people in biology” or “that sad girl that always comes into Kroger on Friday nights to buy herself flowers and cat food,” but at least I’m not just “X’s girlfriend” anymore.
And the last reason that I love being single — this sounds ridiculous, but bear with me — is that I don’t have to deal with the boyfriend fat anymore. For me, being in a relationship for some reason always means I’m going to put on an extra 10 pounds or so.
Maybe it’s the security of knowing that one person will — or, at least, is supposed to — love me unconditionally that makes me comfortable and prone to eating a burrito for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack. Or maybe it’s that I’m unwittingly consuming three servings of pasta each date night at Figo Pasta. I don’t know, and the reason doesn’t really matter anyway. The fact is that all my old boyfriends seemed to have had some subconscious ulterior motive to make me fat.
And this reason alone is enough to make me happy that they are old news.
Obviously, I don’t actually go into Kroger to buy myself flowers and cat food on Friday nights (really). But I have spent much of the last few years in a relationship, and this is probably the longest stretch of time I’ve spent being single since I was 15 or so. And I’ve come to realize that — for me at the very least — being in a relationship through all those years was just a really convenient source of comfort.
Being single, on the other hand, was difficult. Learning how to be okay with eating dinners alone and going out with my non-single friends, even if it means I’ll sometimes have to deal with being the ninth wheel — thanks a lot for that, by the way, guys — is all a part of me growing as a person.
There will be many more Valentine’s Days in the future that will be celebrated with someone special when I’m more emotionally available — which I’ve realized that I’m really currently not. Whether you choose to be with someone or not is all just a matter of what makes you happy. And for now, for the sake of a drama-free existence, I think I’ll survive a few nights at home alone with the cat.
Editorials Editor Catherine Cai is a College sophomore from Atlanta.