I remember the end of each and every relationship.
The tears I cried. The pain that consumed my entire soul. The disappointment after each heartbreak.
Despite everything I endured, I would do it again and again and again. Not because those breakups led to meeting the love of my life, but it opened my eyes to realize I actually didn’t need someone to live a full and happy life. Regardless of what I always believed.
We were programmed to believe that in order to live a full and happy life, we must find someone, marry them, and have children. It’s all I ever knew. It was actually part of the equation in life.
There were no lessons about how I could become complete on my own. It always revolved around me finding a husband.
I’m not blaming my parents for this programming. It’s what they grew up with. I’m not even blaming my grandparents or my great-grandparents. It was the way of the world back then.
In the 1930s, only about 24 percent of women worked. So it comes to no surprise that the choices for any type of life depended on finding someone. There were no other choices.
Despite the fact the world was changing, our parents taught us the happy life guide that was passed down from generation to generation.
“Sweetie, you’ll meet a nice boy who will marry you one day.”
As far back as I can remember, finding someone was number one in my life’s mission.
Hollywood played a huge role to my young impressionable heart, displaying movies of happily ever after. Every damn movie had a happy ending that consisted of two people falling in love. It wasn’t a happy ending until they found each other. I needed to find Prince Charming for my happily ever after.
An awful lot of pressure was placed on us to find someone. We spent most of our 20s searching for our happily ever after.
We dated every type of guy in order to find the perfect husband. We searched high and low because we wanted to live that full and happy life we felt we deserved.
I don’t even remember if I enjoyed dating during that time.
If we were lucky, we landed a husband early on. For those of us who didn’t, the mission became more intense the older we became. As we reached closer to our must-be-married-by age, some of us settled for the first person who felt suitable.
This was not the case for everyone. There are a lot of happily married couples who truly love their lives. Couples who couldn’t imagine any other life. This was not the case for everyone. These couples were the exception. But for the rest of us, the struggle was all so consuming.
What happens when our lives don’t go according to the standard happy life guide we were instructed to live by? What if we settled for someone, and it didn’t work out? Or if we never found someone? The world looked at us with pity and sadness.
“Oh, that poor girl, alone.”
What about the people who choose not to live by those standards? The ones who decided to stray from the script? The world looked at them like there was something wrong with them.
“If she would just settle down with a nice boy.”
Why did we need to be with someone for the world to be happy for us? Wasn’t it enough that we put ourselves through college, landed a high-paying job, or bought a house all on our own?
I remember someone once told me I was too pretty to be alone. I didn’t realize pretty had anything to do with me having some sort of right or need to find love.
By believing we needed to find someone, it placed expectations not only in our own hearts but with the people we were meeting. Every single man was silently interviewed with each interaction. We should have been taught to fall in love, not choose to love someone.
The choice to love is not a feeling; it’s an action.
When we subconsciously search for love, we are choosing the wrong people. We only look at what they may offer us. We ignore any signs that this person might not be right for us. We are using our heads and not our hearts.
We felt like a failure if we couldn’t find someone to love us. We should have been taught self-love instead of finding love.
Love isn’t something we find. Love is something we do.
If we weren’t on some silly mission to find love, there would be no expectations and, therefore, no failure. We can’t fail at something we are not trying to do.
That happy life guide we grew up with was bullsh*t.
The truth is that 40 to 50 percent of marriages fail.
Maybe if we weren’t so pressured into finding someone, we could have concentrated our time on really enjoying dating for fun. And maybe just maybe really fall head over heels completely madly in pure complete love with someone.
Instead of finding someone, we could have put our efforts into ourselves. Creating our lives on our own terms. Not depending on someone else to get us to happily ever after.
There are many reasons to be happy. Sure, falling in love is amazing. I’ve been there. But we were looking for it, not falling for it. There is a difference. We should be taught real things to strive for versus looking for someone to marry.
We should have been taught self-love, boundaries, and to be independent. Someone should have said we are our own true love.
Each failed relationship and every heartbreak brought me closer to realizing I am responsible for my own happiness.
Do we actually need to find someone to live a full and happy life? Do we need someone to give us our happily ever after? Bloody hell no.
No one else can give me a full and happy life. No one can bring me happily ever after. We didn’t need someone to make us whole and complete. We already were.
The power was always ours.
It is about choosing ourselves to fulfill our own happiness, which opens our hearts fully and completely. This frees us for the potential of really falling in love just to fall in love. To experience love fully and happily.
I am my own goddamn happily ever after. And maybe Prince Charming will be there to love me through it all.