I take pride in being my own person. That should be quite self-evident if you've read more than one or two posts here, and certainly it is like a mountaintop proclamation if you have been around long enough to read more than that.
When I was younger, however, I fell into the herd mentality with regards to dating: one must at all times be dating someone, "be with" someone, or be pursuing a relationship with someone; it is an abomination to disregard this rule; failure to comply will be seen as inferiority and antisociality, and subsequently those violating this rule will be precluded from participating in future club activities — whichever club it is whence flows this codependent silliness.
Based upon my own attempts to fulfill obligations under that rule, I diligently worked at being in a relationship at all times. If one fell through, I would immediately go on the prowl once again in pursuit of my next significant other. Lacking a piece of meat to hang on my arm for social events made me feel naked, as though I utterly and completely failed at being human. Not being able to claim that I had someone "back at the ranch" with whom I could snuggle and spend the evening in bliss was equally unnerving. Unsurprisingly, a number of my friends (and even a number of non-friends) perpetually reminded me that I must have a partner, that I must be with someone. Living otherwise was simply unacceptable and abnormal. According to them, it was not living at all.
Cast into a society so devoted to the pursuit of relationships, I begrudgingly played my role, drifting in and out of emotional entanglements both meaningful and not so meaningful. I was told, indirectly by society and directly by friends, that in order to be happy, one must be in a relationship. I eventually learned, however, that this was not the case at all.
The first step on my road to recovery was the realization that sex and love are two very different things, neither being a requirement of the other. This is important, and not because it justifies arbitrary and flippant sexual encounters. It is important because one can be happily in love with someone with whom they are not having sex; likewise, one can enjoy the primitive and satisfying nature of sex without the need for romantic involvement. While sex and love conjoined in the same experience is one of the most fantastic and fulfilling events any person can be involved with, it is the misconception that they can only be enjoyed together that has lead the human herd into this relationship frenzy. Because of it, we now break hearts and minds and spirits with utter disregard as we stumble through the emotional minefield of life in a desperate attempt to be with someone.
The next step in my life lesson was acquiring a true understanding of something Francois de La Rochefoucauld once said: "When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere." All people everywhere must first learn to be happy with themselves, finding joy in a life alone, before they can be happy with someone else. The premise that we humans need a partner in order to make life complete is pure rubbish, emotionally tumultuous and harmful gibberish perpetrated by lonely people. They were not happy with themselves and wished to blame said unhappiness on someone else (we humans have a need always to blame someone for everything no matter what it is). As you cannot blame specific people for your own singular unhappiness, the next best option is to blame someone who doesn't exist but should — your missing soul mate. Thus began the search within all people for the person, real or imagined yet promised to each of us, who would complete our existence, make our lives full and rich and rare, and accomplish that which we were unable to accomplish on our own — finding happiness.
Sadly, and despite blathering to the contrary, another person will never complete you. No one ever has and no one ever will. Your life never will be made whole by the addition of an outside party. You cannot find happiness through someone else, vicariously or directly. The best anyone can hope for is to find someone who can augment his or her own happiness and who can add further depth to an already fulfilling life. The first step, of course, is to find happiness and completion within ourselves. Only then can we truly be happy with someone.
I learned this lesson and grew to believe that my own happiness was essential before seeking it in another person. Even considering my feelings for Rick, I have admitted that personal happiness is my responsibility, that relying on someone else — anyone else — to provide it is an exercise in futility. Not so coincidentally, I have spent the last several years of my life single — and happy.
Well, much to my surprise, there is a word for people like me: the quirkyalones. I agree that it is indeed a funny sounding name, but its definition is of far more importance than the label itself. In reading the testimonials of others, I was at first taken aback and almost frightened that they could so easily and accurately describe me. In some cases, they have done a better job of it than anything I have written. They could easily be my own words and do represent my own sentiments.
I enjoy being single. I am happy with the friends and family whom so enrich my life. Although I love to meet people, make new friends, and even introductions to those with whom it would be possible for me to have a relationship, I equally crave the time alone, the time that being single affords.
Moreover — or more importantly — being happy unto myself enables me to remain open to life's possibilities. To be in a relationship simply for the sake of being coupled is self-destructive, especially if the relationship is unsatisfying even as we force ourselves to remain within its boundaries.
I continue to date as appropriate options become available (not intended to make people sound like commodities). Being a quirkyalone does not mean I want to stay single. On the contrary, I am a romantic to the core, and I openly desire that day in the future when I may commit my life to someone. What I will not do is settle; I respect myself too much for that and have learned through past experiences that doing so is detrimental and can have consequences opposite of intentions.
While some part of me believes that Rick embodies everything that I am looking for, my relationship with him already provides so much. Whether he is the one, whether there is someone else out there yet to be found, or whether I am destined to enjoy the rest of my life un-partnered is of little consequence. I am already happy and need not seek life's nirvana outside of what brings me joy now: my friends, my family, The Kids, my writing, nature, my career, working out, science, the general pursuit of knowledge, and a great many other things.