After speaking with LaVonia Tryon, author of Not Another Singles Book, on our podcast, I thought I would share some thoughts on relationships, and the power of growing and becoming while you are single. There are certainly many more, but here are 3 things I’ve learned over the years. Now, these things definitely apply when you are in a meaningful relationship, but they are things that I wish I would have cultivated more when I was single.
- Be confident in your identity before getting in a relationship
Do not try to “find yourself” in another person. We all go on a journey of identity. It’s a time of discovering who you are and the value that God has in you. One of our greatest needs as humans is to be known on a deep level. When you are attracted to someone it can be really easy to mistake “how you feel” with “who you are.” Meaning, being with that person makes you feel a certain way on a deep level, and if you are looking for affirmation of identity, then you can mistake that feeling with affirmation. Identity affirmation can only come from one source: God. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you…” (Jer. 1:5) Let me put it this way: If you go into a relationship not sure of who you are, you will try to become the person that you think the other person sees; you will try to conform to the person you think they desire. It can be a dangerous path because if that relationship ends, your identity will leave with it. Find your value from God and instead of looking to feel valuable from someone else, you will be affirming the value in others.
Like I said before, we are all on a journey of discovering who we are. Some of us are very confident in our identity (even though we are still growing in it), and some of us are still trying to figure it out. When you go on the journey with God of discovering your identity before being in a deep relationship, you will not be looking for your identity. With that secure, you will find something much deeper.
- Learn to be selfless
We, as humans, have needs. I could go much deeper into that, but for brevity’s sake, I won’t. The point is that if our needs aren’t met, we will consciously (or subconsciously) design our life to make sure that those needs get met. When you are in a meaningful relationship, it can be easy to expect things from the other person. I’m not saying you should learn to never expect anything from the other person in your relationship, but what I am saying is that we should be careful to not put unreasonable expectations on someone. It can be an easy thing to do and not realize it. And if those expectations aren’t met, it can cause resentment and hurt, without us even realizing it. That can become a very controlling thing. Being selfless means that you are not thinking about yourself. You are focused on someone else. They are not responsible for meeting your needs. Most importantly, you have to let that person be themselves.
This is such a powerful thing to learn while you are single. It’s easy for us to shift our focus inward, onto ourselves. Learning to shift that focus outward takes time, but it is powerful. It will help you grow in so many ways.
- Learn how to communicate well
Those expectations we have are usually unspoken. That’s dangerous. Sometimes we feel that the other person in our relationship should just know what we need and want. Well, it’s not that simple. You both are different people. You don’t think the same way, and you certainly can’t read each other’s minds. Yes, as you grow with someone and go deeper into intimacy you will find that so much more is communicated on a deep level without much needing to be said. But that takes time…a lot of time. And it takes communication over that time. It may seem strange at first, but you need to learn to express your emotions with others.
This can be a powerful tool in all walks of life, whether you are in a “relationship” or not. So many people do not honestly express how they feel in many situations. This is something that has to be learned and cultivated over time. It’s almost like learning to speak another language. You’ll get better at it the more you do it and your relationships will be stronger and better for it.
This article could be much, much longer and certainly is not an exhaustive, definitive guide to relationships or being single. I would love to hear your comments or lessons that you have learned in your life about relationships and growing while you are single. Please share in the comments section below!