Better to have loved, lost and moved on single than to be stuck with someone who keeps you from being your best self.
One of my first real boyfriends — not counting Douglas Hunt from kindergarten and Stephen Romero from the third grade — contacted me thanks to the wonders of Facebook. I met this first real boyfriend when I was 16 years old. His name was Jeff and he worked at a ranch where I kept my horse, doing office errands and cleaning stalls. We were madly in love through my junior year in college. Everyone expected us to marry, including me, and I wore a family heirloom on my left hand, a diamond ring taken off his grandmother’s finger when she passed away.
I was shocked to see Jeff’s face on my computer screen — I’d lost contact with him for more than two decades. Our relationship had ended badly and I’d wanted to return that ring for a long time. Now here he was, only slightly resembling the boy I thought I would marry, complete with photos of his wife and grown kids — not me, not ours.
The Facebook encounter provided an opportunity not only to return the ring, but also to pause and remember all the men I thought I would love forever. If I’d married all the ones from those multi-year relationships (monogamous with the exception of the rock star boyfriend whose privates traveled down more “scenic highways” than his tour bus traveled interstate freeways), I’d be looking back at about eight divorces by now. Fortunately, I dated them and even lived with them long enough to realize that despite our best intentions, a pledge of lifelong devotion would have been a massive miscalculation.
Like most people, I still entertain the idea that there can be one person in my life who will stay constant forever. But the truth is, we change, and often not in tandem with our romantic partner. As individuals, we are constantly evolving, and each of us has a journey that is uniquely ours. What happens when one person wants to go left and the other right? Compromise, I suppose — where neither person gets what they really want. That’s fine if we’re talking about eating Chinese food or having hamburgers — not so fine if we’re discussing staying in Los Angeles or moving to Frog Eye, Alabama.
I did love those men, but in each case, as one year after another passed, we grew apart, changed or revealed parts of ourselves that made it clear that it would be a mistake to be lifelong partners. As much as my romantic fantasies used to thrill me (and sometimes still do), I’ve come to believe that finding a forever partner isn’t likely and what’s more important, it doesn’t matter. I embrace my freedom to live, grow and experience life to the fullest regardless of my relationship status — and I won’t give that up to stay in a relationship that has morphed into something where I feel small, lonely and separated from the genuine me.
So, for all those men I’ve loved, thanks for the memories but I’m so grateful I moved on when the time was right, because even though it hurt like hell, the pain was always temporary and, ultimately, we were both better off.
Serial monogamy has a tainted name — something like being single. Both imply that those who qualify are incapable of making a lifelong commitment. Yet I’d much rather be a serial monogamist than juggle multiple relationships, hoping to find satisfaction in one or the other but never truly giving my full attention or respect to any particular one.
And I’d rather be single than be married to any of those men I once thought would be my husband. I wouldn’t trade my singular life — my joie de vivre and independence — to have any one of them back today. If that makes me a serial monogamist, then I’m proud to be one.
As Mae West once said, “A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.” And as Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true,” and that goes double for anyone who wishes to embrace a singular life.
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2016 Singular Communications, LLC.
Kim Calvert is the editor of Singular magazine and the founder of the SingularCity social networking community. An outspoken champion of people who are living their lives as a “me” instead of a “we,” Kim oversees the creative direction and editorial content of the magazine and online social networking community. She secures contributors and is responsible for maintaining the fun, upbeat, inspirational and often-humorous tone of Singular, a lifestyle guide for successful single living.