The Exclusively Nonexclusive Relationship

In a matter of days, Mr. Possibility returns from his overseas two-month business excursion. I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly nervous and maybe even more confused. Not by him, but by myself.

Since he’s been gone, there have obviously been some developments between us and certain things have changed. I have missed his company, but my life has also become increasingly busier and fuller. My career has started to grow, along with my group of close girlfriends and contacts. I’ve placed more effort on my running time, indulged in more brunching, and meeting a collection of new interesting people. Within the next couple of months, not only will I continue through this 12-step program, but I’ll also be moving to a new apartment, and at last, Spring will be here and all of this cold weather will be a distant memory.

Have I changed since the start of December when he caught his 10-hour flight? Absolutely. Do I still feel the same way about the possible relationship I thought we could have? I don’t know.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks really thinking, considering, and determining how I truly feel about whatever it is that we are, or we were doing. When I met him, I was at a point of complete self-discovery where I was determined to leave not only the past, but the bad habits I developed from old relationships and my own doings, far behind me. I had made a distinctive decision to be the captain of my own soul, to lead my life without worrying or stressing about men, and finding love -or even the chance for it – was miles from my mind or priorities. Instead, I was embarking on the journey of sincerely learning to accept myself.

And then, as they always seem to do, a man came into my life. Not just any man at that, but a tall, attractive, and successful guy who made me laugh, who was intelligent and charming, and for whatever odd reason, we connected in a way that I don’t believe either of us could describe to give it its full merit. It wasn’t love at first sight, or maybe even love at all, but it was something. And even though I was concentrating so diligently on being a single gal, I also promised myself I’d never turn away from what could-be, just because I was afraid of what I may find.

However, I never got to the point where I wanted a relationship. Where I couldn’t stand the thought of being with anyone else. Where I wanted to introduce him as my boyfriend to my friends or my family. Where I felt the need to have “The Talk” with him that every man on this planet intensely fears (and women too, for the matter). Where I hoped to accept a relationship request on Facebook.

On the other hand, in keeping with the “no rules” rule - I decided to give myself sexual liberties. The power to free myself and my own thinking about when it is okay and not okay to have sex with someone. Before, I needed to be head-over-heels, practically in love, to even consider getting down to my skimpies. I needed to have commitment. Stability. The absolute, undeniable promise that this man did care about me, did have my best interest at heart, and I could rest assured that he’d be there not only the next morning, but next month, too. In all the times before Mr. Possibility, even when I sincerely had the desire to sleep with someone, I refrained to protect my heart, protect my number from going up, or maybe, just protect what I was afraid would break if I gave in.

But then, Mr. Possibility showed me that I don’t need a ring or a title to have an orgasm. Maybe, I just need to have a connection based on honesty with someone, know who they are as a person, and most importantly, trust that if something goes awry, I can still depend on myself to pick up the pieces, should anything shatter.

However, as liberated as I became as a single woman – I didn’t reach the point where I wanted to sleep with an additional man. Nor did I feel comfortable to balance two (or three or four) different beds. And when I discovered his explorations in other possibilities, I was sincerely hurt. I felt betrayed and like the hope I had in whatever we were creating was damaged. I had agreed to a no-strings attached relationship, even though I knew both of us were starting to tie our ends together. I had agreed to casual sex, even when both of our feelings were a little more serious. I had been an active, willing, and happy participant in a relationship that didn’t require or demand monogamy…until I discovered it wasn’t, in fact, sexually monogamous from his perspective.

Yet, even after knowing, I still didn’t want to be his girlfriend or set boundaries within the confines of a relationship. I just didn’t want him to do the deed with anyone else. Basically – I wanted an exclusively, nonexclusive relationship.

Is this a complete double standard? Am I fooling myself into thinking I’m capable of the friends-with-benefits relationship? I wasn’t the only one developing emotions, but were mine far stronger than his? Or is that sex just really does complicate everything? Or is it that defining a relationship places pressure on the developments of dating?

I will say there are genetic differences between men and women in many ways, and especially in sex. In my experience, men are able to jump more freely from woman to woman, where a lady has trouble shutting off feelings or projections from man to man. I could go into detail about the hormones released and the scientific studies, but I won’t.  I refuse to generalize every man and every woman, for I rather believe we’re defined more by being individuals than our genitalia. Regardless, getting naked – either emotionally or literally exposes you to someone else in the most intimate of ways. And with that intimacy, comes a certain level of trust. That faith, that reliability, regardless if its for a night, for a few months, or for the time your partner is across many oceans, needs to be nurtured to keep not only the possible romance (if there is one), but the sex, preserved and healthy.

Somehow, even with all of the progress I’ve made, all of the love addict qualities I’ve kicked to the curb with my Louboutins, I’ve discovered there are certain non-negoitables, particular charactertiscs and dare I say, moral obligations that a person makes to him or herself. And those, even in the span of progress can’t be compromised. I’m not sure how things will be when he comes back, how I will react to seeing him, and I’m positive we can’t just jump right back in where we left off. Though with possibility comes a hope for something more, it also opens up the opportunity to see what’s possible and acceptable for yourself. Maybe I don’t feel the need to have a boyfriend or to call Mr. Possibility my one-and-only, but when it comes to traveling the jungle of single sex, I’m more of a two-person safari gal. Perhaps he’s more of an explorer. Or we’re both somewhere in between, trying to decide what’s best for each of us. Or for the “us” we both thought there could be, or potentially still could be.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in his two month absence and all that’s happened in the weeks we’ve been connected only through technology and not touch – it’s that relationships, in their truest forms, are of course fleeting, but also indefinable. Monogamy may be easy to explain, but the interpretation changes as quickly as a polygamist’s bed. Cheating has all sorts of different levels and doesn’t just involved banging boots, but can encompass emotions beyond what we anticipated. Benefitting with a friend is dangerous territory, just like rebounding with a handsome stranger. The point between talking and dating, casual and serious, picturing the future and living it, and the time where a hard place comes into play and the rock goes on the finger – are all lines that are easily blurred.

Maybe, the only relationship we can truly have on our own terms, without compromising or bending the rules or our standards, is the one we have with ourselves. And even that one is also complicated, and is neither exclusive or nonexclusive. Because at times we open up ourselves to possibilities, and other times, we’re completely content with being in only the company of ourselves. But most of the time – we’re somewhere right in between, deciding which turn, which page, which road, to take next.

PS: Confessions of a Love Addict is considering a Q&A Sunday where Lindsay answers questions from your own stories about the journey of self-love (and the men along the way). If you’re interested, send her an email.

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The Look of Attraction

It is quite simple to catch a man’s attention. In fact, I’d like to think I have almost nailed it to a science.

My friends in college always picked me as the ringleader who would entice the group of eligible (or not) bachelors to our group so we’d get free drinks or mostly meaningful chit-chat to make us feel like we shaved our legs for something that night. Maybe it’s because I’m confident or brazen, but I’ve never been afraid of walking up to strangers. Honestly, as a journalist – it’s a big part of my job description. If you can’t ring a source or someone you’d like to interview, then what are you going to do, sit at your desk all day long?

Really – the act of gaining a man’s intrigue is an easy task that so many make incredibly difficult. Regardless of what you’re wearing, if you have a brand new zit on your chin, who you’re with, or where you are – it comes down to body language. Or, as I was taught: The Look. I can never reveal where I learned this trick, but I can almost guarantee it will get you and your ladies a round of drinks within twenty minutes, about 80 percent of the time. Sure, that’s a low B, but how many A+ men do we really meet anyways?

You do not have to be at the bar or a place where alcohol is served, but it usually ups your success rate a bit – I’m not a huge drinker myself, but a warm wine haze almost always make you feel sexy and a little bolder. Say you’re sitting at a table during happy hour with your gals and you see someone you’re attracted to. Leaving insecurities and caution in the wind where they belong, you lock eyes with this person and then cut your glance back towards your friends. Regardless if you’re engaged in the conversation or not, you smile, widen your eyes, and join in. Continue to do this for say, five minutes. And then, with a drink in your hand, you meet his eyes again, smile, and toast the air with your beverage of choice. Then you completely ignore him. That’s it. Done. In about five to ten minutes, you’ll be greeted with his friends, offered a round,  and then the flirting begins.

Now – for a long time, I used The Look everywhere. As much as I was addicted to love, I was also addicted to The Look. Amazed by how easily it worked, how simple it was to do, and how men reacted to it almost exactly how I hoped each time – I wanted to continuously put it to the test.

But when I woke up and decided putting all of my focus and attention on luring in a man was no longer how I wanted to live my life, I realized some things had to change. The first time I hit the bar since starting the journey, I found myself questioning why I was so impressed with The Look in the first place. Was it having the power? Was it being able to save money? Was it that a stranger’s eyes on me made me feel sexier than when they weren’t? Was there really anything wrong with doing The Look constantly?

No – nothing at all. That is, except for the twenty percent of the time when it didn’t work out as well as I anticipated. And when that happened, my opinion of myself exited the bar almost as quickly as I moved tables to escape from the guy who didn’t return my interest. Who didn’t feel the need to approach me or my ladies from across a darkened, crowded hot spot in midtown, even with my tightest jeans, highest heels, and attempting my most seductive glance.

Or maybe in a nutshell, when following the laws (and the look) of attraction, landed me far away from the mystery man I wanted to meet, and consumed in the self-defeating thoughts of “what’s wrong with me?

The Look  is usually successful because it plays with the basic fundamentals of attraction: first you see them, then you give them a hint of intrigue, ignore them to let them know you’re happy and fun (who wants to date someone who’s miserable, right?), and just when they think you’ve lost your taste for them, you give them a subtle hint, that no, you are still thirsty. Thus, they are encouraged to grow a pair and come see if they can pair up with you, for the hour, for the evening, or for maybe more.

But sometimes, as I’ve realized, there are other factors involved. Sure, no one likes to be turned down or rejected in any sense – where it be in love, their career, or at the bank. But for a long time, I took it personally when a man didn’t find himself drooling over me or hoping to fill up my cup. Now I see it as just another experience, another lesson, or really, just as some fun. Who knows what’s going on in the mind of someone – maybe he’s taken, maybe he’s just met someone with possibility, maybe his  heart is broken, maybe he’s gay, maybe he’s dealing with love addiction, or maybe I’m not his style of lady. Regardless, it doesn’t make me ugly, uninteresting, or no deserving of a good flirt at a trendy bar – it’s just how the levels of love and attraction work.

I’ve placed no rules on myself for this path to self-love, so I haven’t refrained from The Look, nor have my friends stopped begging me to do it when we all go out. The only difference is…I don’t take it as seriously. Or really, I don’t take myself as seriously. And somehow, when you stop placing pressure on yourself, on the success of your glance, or on the man himself – somehow, the odds of The Look working… go up.

Because instead of acting like you’re fully engaged and enjoying your friend’s company – you actually are. Instead of acting like you don’t care if the man comes or if he doesn’t, you actually don’t. And instead of toasting the air to entice him to come over, you’re saying cheers to yourself and to the laws of attraction, that somehow, never seem to lose their intrigue.

PS: Confessions of a Love Addict is considering a Q&A Sunday where Lindsay answers questions from your own stories about the journey of self-love (and the men along the way). If you’re interested, send her an email.

The Man Who Had Me at Hello

Two weeks into my New York adventure, I fell in love with a tall, classy, blue-eyed man.

At the time, I was applying to jobs all day and night, and in between refreshing Ed2010 and Mediabistro, I was scouring for affordable apartments that still made New York, NY the end of my address. Perhaps, I hadn’t gained some of that New York toughness or was creeped out by small empty spaces instead of the wide ones I was used to, but the thought of going all over the city, especially to Harlem and Morningside Heights, alone…was terrifying. Still being incredibly fresh to my new location and dying to have a home to call my own, I reached out to friends for advice. My friend A suggested I contact his friend – an assistant at the Lincoln Center.

And so, desperate for someone to apartment search with me (and well, protect me from the crazies I could encounter), I reached out to A’s friend, who gladly accepted the role as shopping buddy. Even though I had never met this man, I liked how friendly and helpful he was and willing to escort me, when at the time I was nothing but a stranger to him. I set up appointments for a Saturday afternoon and texted him the night before to let him know the times and locations – to this day, he still wants to make sure I’m safe whenever I go out alone and insists on walking me to my door or the subway when we’re out late together. And yes, this means he is still part of my life.

Ironically enough though, early on that Saturday morning, as I was drying my hair in my friend’s bathroom, he texted me to let me know that he was unexpectedly called into work and I should try to reschedule the appointments. Completely frustrated and now a little scared, I slammed down the hair dryer, plopped down on the side of the tub, and started crying. Here I was, a mere 14 days residing in my dream city and not only did I not have a job, but I didn’t have friends and I was now certain I’d be shot and killed in some slimy place I didn’t even know how to get to unless I Googled. After quite the hissy fit, I reached for my phone to call my mom, and saw that this man had texted me multiple times to ask me how he could be there for me and how he didn’t want me to be afraid. Humbled by his kindness, I thanked him for his time and suggested that maybe once I got my feet on the ground, we could go out to dinner. He responded with, “only if you text me as you go to these apartments, before, during, and after, so I know you’re okay.”

And so, with this gentleman in my pocket, I braved the streets and headed out to find my first New York place. In all honesty, it was a indeed creepy and when I exited the train at one of the locations, there was blood on the platform. Instead of exiting, I just turned on my heel and decided, surely, that was a sign to not go see the listing. I didn’t care if it was only $600 a month, utilities included. Though I saw some odd ones, eventually I found my cozy, tiny apartment and a week later, I was offered my current job…and well, here we are.

But to get to where I am now, I could have never done it without this man. When I had no one to depend on, no one to lay my trust in, no one who really even cared too awful much – he demanded to keep me safe. Even if it was just by guarding his Blackberry in case I didn’t text in an appropriate amount of minutes. Once all was settled, we did end up actually meeting when he invited me to a show, free of charge, at the Lincoln Center. An Opera, to be exact.

When I laid eyes on him, on the second floor mezzanine, in a black suit -I knew he would be someone I’d love. His smile, so endearing, so sincere, so enticing, caught my attention even in the crowd of strangers And as he casually sipped his champagne and made small talk with party guests, I slowly walked up to him, and he simply turned his head, locked eyes with me, and said: “You must be Lindsay. You’re as beautiful as A said you were.” Blushing to the color of my wine, I swore I almost stumbled in my three-inch heels.

A few nights later, we met in Union Square at a Thai restaurant we now call “our place.” He brought an expensive bottle of prosecco to celebrate my new job and new home, but the waitress (and the manager) refused to let us drink it with our food unless we forked up $20. We in return, refused, and discussed current events, popular culture, North Carolina, and because I’m “me” and he’s “him” – our conversation also turned to love. Watching him attempt to eloquently eat his noodles with chopsticks and bear his heart to me, with all of its many cuts and rips, I knew I had just found one of things I came to New York in search of. That man, who against all odds, through any circumstances, or in your worse and best of moments – will love you unconditionally. And yet, will also always be honest to a default and let you indulge in your silly-girl-freak-out moments (that perhaps aren’t that silly, after all). That man, who you can be yourself with, who you can come-as-you-are to, and even drink fancy wine out of plastic cups in the park instead of paying for someone else to uncork the bottle for you.

I had in fact found the required accessory to make any fabulous New York outfit and life complete: my gay husband. Or as I lovingly (and sincerely) call him, Mr. Hubby.

Now, I knew from the get-go that Mr. Hubby was not interested in me as a sexual creature (although he does admire my lovely lady lumps when they’re pushed up or on display), but it didn’t stop me from falling for him. You see, there is something unique in a hubby/wifey relationship – it is mutually understood that if we weren’t attracted to the same tall, dark stranger, we’d probably be literally married by now. In fact, we’d probably be bunking in Brooklyn with a completely gorgeous art-deco kitchen, and I’d walk around in pearls, as he smokes a cigar and drinks brandy in a parlor room, listening to Glee’s soundtrack and randomly bursting into song and dance. We’d also own a few recording and publishing companies, and be the smokin’ powerhouse couple that everyone is jealous of.

He easily and swiftly became and remains, my very best New York friend. We have the best kind of friendship that’s open, non-judgemental, and welcomes each and every little flaw. We’ve gone dancing and boozing at bars with 75-year-old bartenders, cuddled in the same bed when the commute seemed like too much, and hosted a BYOP party (Bring Your Own Pumpkin), as I wore an apron and he cared my pumpkin for me. He tells me when a dress isn’t flattering and also when I look, as he says, “damn sexy“, and I’m there to encourage pinstripe suits and the bottom he has that would charm the pants off anyone. And of course, we’ve spent many of lunch breaks over coffee or Greek food, both tearing up over a man who played a little too rough with our hearts, while the other told us not only what we wanted to hear, but what we needed to hear. If I’m honest, he has a Mr. Possibility of sorts (though I’d prefer to call him Mr. Idiotic), who continuously makes a mess of Mr. Hubby’s emotions, and yet, the connection there is impossible to ignore. Of course, I can relate, but I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of Mr. Idiotic. I do, however believe one day, he’ll wake up and see what he’s missing in Mr. Hubby.

Because if anyone knows how special, how irreplaceable Mr. Hubby is, it’s me. He, like me, is an artist – only he has the unbelievable quality of not only making something, but demonstrating beauty in the creation. He sees and presents the brilliance of emotion through movement, through words, through friendship, through his voice, and of course, his contagious smile. Though he can’t always see what is ahead of him, I’m as sure of his success and his happiness, as I am of mine. His dreams are only outnumbered by his friends, all of which can’t help but adore him. I feel blessed to be picked as the Mrs. – yet I think fate had a little hand in the serendipitous meeting.

I’m still not convinced that when I meet or go out with Mr. Right, I’ll just know he’s my match, but when that does happen, I hope he knows that I’ve already been married for some time now, and he has some pretty incredible shoes to fill. He has to live up to the man who had me at hello.

You May Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger

Right now, as I write this, and as you, whoever you are, reads this, a new life will take his/her first breath. Someone else will die. A woman will meet the man she will marry. Another woman in a courtroom will be face-to-face with the guy who attacked her many years ago. A child will finally take that first independent ride on their bicycle, without the training wheels. Some 16-year-old will look lovingly at their driver’s license. A middle-aged woman will pick at her gray hairs and analyze her wrinkles in a magnified mirror. Someone will say “I do.” Another couple will sign their divorce papers. A college graduate will land in New York. Someone else will leave the city in haste. A man will miss his train. A daughter will get the news her father has cancer. Someone will be given a few months to live. A man will witness a miracle. A woman will break her heel. Someone will be given their dream job. Two people will chat from across the world, while a couple will lay side-by-side with a world between them.

And then there’s me, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the downtown train, looking around at all of those around me, fascinated thinking of how quickly, how frequently life goes through highs and lows. And along the way, we see and sometimes meet people who shape the way we see the axis turn. I mean, who are these people I see everyday? The woman with the pretty coat and the red boots – what did she do this morning? The old man in the corner, reading his paper, looks so tired, why? The young, tall, attractive guy two seats down isn’t wearing a ring, but is he single? The teenage girl listening to her music so loudly I can hear it three-feet away, what is she struggling with?

Even though I do not know any of their names, here we are, connected, in this single moment because we decided to board the same train, at the same time, on this incredibly snowy Thursday morning. I’ll never say life is measured by the moments that take our breath away – but I will say sometimes, in the middle of an ordinary day, an unexpected revelation comes over you.

Like, how most every relationship is fleeting, but yet, sometimes the most significant of ones are merely based on a connection. And sometimes, a coincidence. It’s that realization – that as easily as someone can come into our life, they can simply, just leave. Just like the strangers on the train who I shared the same air with, held the same rail, smelled the same things, and then simply exited on my stop, completely forgetting their faces.

Maybe the reason a relationship is so scary and seems so necessary for happiness is because we know how easily it can just slip from our grasp. And so, finding the one person who we will never have to worry about leaving or losing a connection with, no matter what curve ball we’re thrown or diagnosis we’re given, becomes an endless search.

It’s like trying to find someone in a city of millions who you were intrigued by, but weren’t brave enough to ask their name. Where does one even begin? For a while, I’d say the bar, at the gym, taking a class you’re interested in, the park, or actually, at work - but with the knowledge that relationships are in fact, so fleeting, I think it’s more important to start with a connection you’ll never be able to fully break – the one that connects you to you.

Being sans-man is one thing, but when you feel like you’ve lost the essence of who you are – it’s time to stop looking around at the strangers, including the one you’ve become, and start realizing that people come and go, both lovers and friends, and before we can offer anything to anyone, even someone we’ve never met – we’ve got to offer the best we have to ourselves. If we get so lost looking for the handsome stranger we want to meet, we become darkened to who we are. Faces we’ll never see may surround us, but the worse thing we could ever be – are lost in our own reflections, relying on someone else to recognize us. Or a connection to bring us back to where we started. If this journey has taught me anything so far, it’s that the one person I can never give up on, never let go of, and never forget is me - and I simply can’t be a stranger to myself.

Because until (or if) we do meet this magical Number One man, every love, every spark, every could-be -is probably simply temporary. They are fleeting feelings that at times may seem so incredibly permanent we can’t stand to hold them. But, the ones that light us will pass, just like the ones that sought to destroy us. Much like the thoughts that come with being single, like “What if he isn’t out there?” or “Why can’t I just meet one decent man in this whole damn city?” or “Could I really be okay if I never got married?” Yet, when we do meet someone with possibility, gone are the worries of being stranded in our single boat, and a new set of question make their way to the shore: “Am I settling?” and “Could I really see him in the long run?” and “Is this how it is supposed to feel?” or maybe perhaps the worse of all, “What if he doesn’t feel the same way?”

But in between the ups and the downs, the yes’s and the no’s, the consistent and the inconsistent, the strangers I pass who turn into lovers, and the lovers who turn into strangers -I have to be secure enough to sit in the middle of a busy train, content with the knowledge that no matter how many avenues I have to cross, people who have to leave, or bumps I have to endure – I’ll still be just fine.

Before I know it, something or someone, or an ordinary moment will come along, and there life goes again  in its extraordinary splendor: forever, beautifully, changing, and preparing me for the next stop along the way. And on I will go, single and secure, ready for any fleeting (or maybe permanent) tall, dark, stranger I may pass.

Entitled to Be Single

When my parents were newlyweds, my father once made the mistake at a dinner party introducing my mother as “his wife.” While she was, and is, his partner – to my incredibly independent firecracker of a mom – this made her feel like she lost her identity.

Needless to say, she didn’t keep quiet about how she felt. On the ride home, as my dad tells the story: “She laid it out for me -I didn’t own her. If I was going to introduce her to anyone, I had to say her name first and then her wifely title. Or, I was just to say her name. Under no circumstances, was she ever to solely be my wife or was I ever to say ‘wife’ before her name.

Now – I don’t know how I would respond in the same situation because I’m not married, but I will say I think my mother demanded nothing out of her rights. Nor do I think it’d sit well with me if my husband dropped my first name just because I took his last. And really, just like my mom, I’ll never just be a “wife” or a “mother” – I’ll always be me, and there are not enough titles to represent who I am.

I’ve carried a few of them the majority of my life: female, daughter, and well, writer. Those have grown as I have, from girl to teenager to woman; from daughter to kid to adult; from writer to editor to blogger. And of course, I’ve gone from crush to girlfriend to lover, from single to attached, from hopeless romantic to love addict,  from committed to heartbroken.

But in relationships, title changes seem to carry so much more weight than the other ones. Somehow, we know that regardless of what happens we will still be people through any birthday, promotion, or change of friends, and we’ll still be able to call ourselves a woman, a person, a daughter – because those things can’t be revoked or erased.

So, maybe in terms of love it is less about title and more about entitlement.

As a lady who adores words (even when she isn’t the best grammar girl in the whole world) – when I edit articles and writers confuse “title” and “entitlement” – I always cringe at my desk. Much like I do about “they’re” and “their”, but I digress. You see, title is the name of something, say a book or a movie; and entitled means one is deserving of whatever they are getting.

By these definitions, when we approach relationships, though we think we’re seeking a title – aren’t we really seeking entitlement? To be told, to be reassured that we are in fact, worthy of being someone’s girlfriend? Or fiancée? Or wife?

Of all of the roles I’ve played and hats I’ve wore in my past, the one I wanted the very most was exclusiveness with a man. I wanted whatever dude who was stealing my attention, where it be Mr. Disappear, Mr. Fire, or even Mr. Unavailable – to view me as his dream girl. As this beautiful, irreplaceable creature who appeared from the dusty woodwork, and became as important, as vital, as necessary, as the air they breathed and the beer they drank. Maybe it was college, but I didn’t even know these men very long – probably just upwards of a few weeks – before I determined I had to do everything in my power to be that girl. That remarkable woman who caught them off guard and made them stumble in the game they seemed so good at playing. I had to be the different one, the woman who woke him up from whatever bachelor-daze he was stuck in and I had to persuade him to entitle me the title I wanted.

In pushing for a man to make me his, to be what he desired, and what I thought was attractive to him – I stopped focusing on if I actually wanted a relationship and became more intrigued by the challenge of roping in this character. Of being convincing enough by putting on a charade that I was calm, cool, collected, and aloof , when in all actuality, I’m anything but most of those things. In all of my dating experiences prior, as soon as I realized he made me nervous in the best of ways – I was ready to have the girlfriend title. In fact, it became much more important than any other title – friend, sister, daughter, student, editor, or employee – I may have had at the time.

But now, it seems the title I enjoy the most, that I feel fully entitled to – is single. Incredibly, proudly, surprisingly, happily solo.

Maybe the reason I feel a sense of entitlement to the single title is because I had to work for it. More so, because I really got to know what it meant to be single before I determined that yes, indeed, that’s what I wanted. I had to go through nights where I didn’t think I’d ever be able to fall asleep due to my heart that was pounding so hard, I was sure it would never stop hurting. I had to give someone every single bit of hope and trust inside of me, only to realize they weren’t deserving of it, nor did they really want it. I had to fall in and out of love, both with myself and with the parade of men who for a while, defined my life. I had to be willing to put myself through the very worse part of being in a relationship, take a chance on what felt like fate, and promise myself that no matter what happened, I’d still be able to stand again. I had to face some pretty harsh realities about myself, how I approach love, and the lessons I’ve learned from loving and losing, believing and grieving.

And most importantly, I had to get to a point where it didn’t matter whatsoever what title I had, as long as I stopped putting all of my energy toward becoming someone’s girlfriend. I had to turn away from searching for the love I thought would complete me, would make me a better person, would give me the confidence I wanted, and decide that that love is only possible from within.

Today, I know it isn’t about the man anymore. It’s about me. Instead of worrying about being entitled to a title, I instead try and determine if someone is up to my standards of being my partner, my man, my lover, my boyfriend, or even my man friend. They aren’t just entitled to a place in my life, my bedroom, or my heart – those are places that must be earned with something I’ve never given enough credit to…time.

So yes, I’m happy with my single title. And unlike other titles that must be given to you, this is one I decided for myself I was entitled to. But should you ever meet me, I won’t lead with “Hi, I’m single,” because though it is something that’s part of me, just like being a woman, a friend, and a writer – most importantly, I’m me. I’m Lindsay. And that’s a title that’ll never change.

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