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'Single' Is a Relationship Status - Not a Waiting Period Between Relationships

08/12/2014 15:39 GMT | Updated 06/02/2015 10:59 GMT

2014-12-08-kleaver.jpeg Being single is a bit like wearing Crocs in public.

Strangers judge you, family members think you've given up or let yourself go, and society in general wants you to feel embarrassed about your bold personal choice.

But I'm not embarrassed. I refuse to be.

Being single is liberating, sexy, confronting, and awesome. But most of all (ATTN: inquisitive relatives, writers of rom-coms and the general public), it's a deliberate state of being. "Single" is a relationship status in its own right. Not a waiting period between relationships.

Truly. I shake my metaphorical Crocs violently at anyone who thinks that right now, I'm just filling in time till someone loves me again. This is the most emotionally, physically, sexually independent I've ever felt and you will not take that away from me with pity.

(At a friend's wedding recently, an unpleasant married acquaintance nearly stopped breathing when she noticed I didn't have a date with me. "Oh, honey, don't worry, it'll happen for you," she said, moving conspicuously between me and her husband, as though he needed shielding from my wanton independence. Fuck that, man, I'm happy as a clam.)

So, I've been single for eight months. For the first time since I was 19.

At the start of the year and the end of my relationship, the idea of being single was terrifying. I thought about not seeing my boyfriend every day, and it stung my heart and closed my throat. I was part of a pair, and while I always knew my own head and my own worth, I felt like I came as a package deal. Being apart from my then-beloved made about as much sense to me as separating matching salt and pepper shakers. Just... wrong.

But that's because when you're in a relationship, you actually can't imagine being on your own. You've forgotten what it's like. You've given your heart to someone, and it's agony to think of them giving it back to you. What are you going to do, put that heart back in your own chest, wait till it beats again, and work out how to feel complete in your own company?

Well, yeah. That's exactly what you do.

You hold your breath, wait for the broken feeling to pass, and you go looking for who you really are. You make your own decisions - sometimes recklessly, just because you can. You nestle back into old friendships and find new ones because you've got your eyes on everyone, not locked in one other person's gaze. You build your career and build your confidence.

You get to be loyal to yourself, you get back your sexual curiosity, and you go to the movies on your own one time just to see if you survive (and you do). You take an offensively hot French lover, like your own body naked, and listen to Taylor Swift on Shuffle All Repeat because you can.

And if anyone looks at you like you're wearing rainbow goddamn Crocs to a black tie event, you tell them it's none of their business... unless they want to make friends, make love, or eat ice cream in the bath with a good podcast on.

Image copyright blogger's own