Editor’s Note: A woman named Madison, 21 was interviewed. Here’s her story.
I’m a relationship person. There, I said it. A relationship person. I’m currently a senior in college and have essentially had a boyfriend since I was in eighth grade. And you know what? I literally would not change a single thing about my experience. Here’s a brief history of my track record:
My first boyfriend, Josh* and I met when we were 12 years old. We dated all throughout high school, and it felt like an IRL Tay Swift music video…until we went off to college on different sides of the country. We wanted to try to make the long-distance work, but it was hard. He went to school farther away from home than I did, so visiting each other wasn’t really an option either. And trust me, the distance took its toll.
Around that time, I started becoming friends with Greg*. He and I went to college together, so when Josh and I broke up officially, I started seeing him as more than someone I’d just grab lunch with. I really didn’t expect myself to be into anyone so soon after such a long relationship…but I was. It never fully felt right with Greg though. I liked him, but I didn’t love him the way I loved Josh, you know? So after just three months of dating, I mustered up the courage to tell him how I felt and ended the relationship.
Six weeks after our breakup, I went to Italy to study abroad for the summer before my junior year. This was my moment to be single, I thought. And, well, thaaaaat lasted all of five minutes until I met my current boyfriend, Mike*, in our study abroad group. What can I say? If Lizzie and Gordo can have their moment in Italy, so can I.
Now, before you go rolling your eyes or preaching singleness on me, I didn’t use these guys to bounce from one to the other. When the relationships ended, I wasn’t interested in throwing myself a pity party; I just wanted to move on with my life. I don’t necessarily mean I was on the hunt for a new boyfriend like I was freaking Indiana Jones searching for the lost ark, I just mean I kept myself open to meeting new people.
"I know there's value in being single, but when I have feelings for someone, I want to be in a real relationship with them"
Plus, my things with Josh and Greg ended amicably. If I had a super long, complicated, dramatic Gossip Girl–style breakup then, yeah, I could see how it would have taken a while to move on. But neither of my exes ever sold me for a hotel, à la Chuck Bass, okay? Both of my breakups were chill. Greg and Josh are still two of my best friends to this day.
And as you’ve probably gathered from this article so far, I like being in a relationship—I’ve considered myself a relationship person since I dated Josh. What’s wrong with that? I know there’s value in being single, but when I have feelings for someone, I want to be in a real, bona fide relationship with them. I’ve seen my friends enter these wishy-washy half-ass situationships, and I just know those are not for me.
Now, I know never being single isn’t necessarily the traditional path toward self-love, but I thank all my relationships for who I am today. Without a doubt, they forced me to grow and mature faster than I would have if I were single. They each pushed me as a person to get out of my comfort zone, taught me how to compromise, and how to love another person selflessly. I’ve proven to myself that I can give my all to someone else when I really love them, and that’s something I’m proud of.
Being single undoubtedly has plenty of benefits when it comes to learning who you are, but so does being cuffed. Each one of my relationships painted a clearer picture for me of who I am and what I’m looking for in a partner. More importantly, each showed me a different side of myself.
The receipts: Realising I didn’t love Greg forced me to home in on my own intuition. Breaking up with both Josh and Greg forced me to gather up courage I never knew I had. Telling Mike I had feelings for him forced me to build up my own confidence. Dating Josh taught me to consider my future seriously. But most importantly, I learned to love myself, and I know what I bring to the table in any sort of relationship—romantic or platonic.
So yes, being single is important—and I’m sure there are parts of life I've missed out on by not really experiencing it. If single is your thing, do it. Live it! But as for me, I think my relationships and experiences have their own value. And I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
*Names have been changed.