Dr. Will had a great entry the other day about dependent personality disorder. When reading his list of the behaviors associated with this disorder, I was struck by this one:
5. Urgently seeks another relationship as a source of care and support when a close relationship ends:
– Within one day of her death, you move in with your mother’s sister.
– After a divorce, you submit a dozen profiles to eHarmony to find a new mate as soon as possible.
– As soon as your dog turns three years old, you get a new puppy in preparation for losing the older pet. You always have five dogs.
It made me laugh, as his stuff always does, but it also got me to thinking. We've all known people who just HAVE to be in a relationship. They aren't happy if they are alone. In fact, sometimes they have another possibility waiting in the wings, in case the relationship they're in just doesn't work out. They go from one relationship to another without blinking, and without looking back to see what went wrong, or what part they played in the failure of the relationship.
I used to be that person. I'm actually quite an independent person (maybe sometimes more than I should be), so the dependent personality disorder doesn't apply, but I just didn't do "single." After I got divorced, I always had either a boyfriend or lots of prospects. It's not that I was unhappy by myself, but I think I just wasn't quite sure what I wanted, or how to go about getting it. And I also believe now that I didn't value myself enough to know that I deserved a decent man. So after years of wasting time on philanderers, guys afraid to commit, guys who felt they had to be emotionally and verbally abusive, and guys who were just plain whoredogs, I took some time off.
After the end of my last dysfunctional relationship, I took myself off the market for a while, about a year. No boyfriend, no dates, just me by myself. It got pretty lonely at times. My low point was when I was talking to Dad about retirement, and he told me, "You might be by yourself...you need to plan for that." Ouch, Dad! (He was right, though.) But it gave me time to think about who I was, what I wanted and needed, and to basically get myself grounded. I learned to appreciate being at home instead of going out all the time, I started cooking and found out I enjoyed it, I learned that there were a lot of things that I could do by myself (I carried a computer and monitor up three flights of stairs--it about killed me, but I did it!), and I figured out how to enjoy my solitude. I guess you could say I became comfortable with myself. I had a lot of support from family and friends, but at the end of the day, it was just me.
If I hadn't had that year of solitude, reflection, and at times, loneliness, I don't think I would have been able to be in a real, solid, committed, and actual "grown-up" relationship. I've found that with Ken, and while my year off wasn't always fun, I don't believe I'd be the person I am now, and Ken and I wouldn't be the couple we are now, if I hadn't experienced it.