What I Learned By Celebrating A Wedding Without A Plus One
Going to a wedding solo taught me a lot about myself.
I am sitting alone at a lovely wedding reception table adorned with half empty wine and champagne glasses. I take a deep breath, cross my legs, and take a sip of wine as I watch the dance floor of happy couples move together to the music. Determined to deter my thoughts from self judgment about being solo at said wedding, I lean forward, resting my elbow on my knee and remind myself why I am without a plus one.
My recent breakup was for the best. I spent a lot of time in that relationship convincing myself I was happy. I spent a lot of time waiting around for Her. For Her to show up. For Her to call. For Her to come home. For Her to talk to me. For Her to own up to anything after a conflict, as she seemed incapable of taking responsibility for anything. I remember the duality of my heart the weekend of my birthday, the same weekend we moved in together, as we sat in separate rooms, not speaking. There might as well have been a continent between us. That night, curled up in bed alone, I thought, Do I still have a girlfriend? And if so, Where the hell is she?
At the table, I uncross my legs, lean back into my chair, letting my black dress loosen around my hips. I sip my wine and watch the bride and bride kiss. It occurs to me that once you start trying to convince people you are happy, you're not happy. Watching my newlywed friends, one thing is clear - they ARE happy. And I want to be again one day. As I go about the weekend wedding festivities, including the 4-hour drive back home, I make a mental list for myself in dating to help me never again be in the position of trying to convince myself or others that I am happy.
1. I decided what love isn't
Looking back on that relationship, I realised that somehow, over time, respect and care were replaced with criticism and contempt. Knowing this isn't love, I make a mental list of other things that love isn't.
- Love doesn't cause you to lose things (sense of self, friends, health, sleep)
- Love doesn't push you away and pull you back in
- Love doesn't make you wait, worry, and wonder what is going on
- Love doesn't punish, stonewall, or emotionally shut down
2. I decided what love is to me
In my most healthy relationships, I felt a sense of deep knowing that I was cared for, that we were a team, and that we had each others' backs. I made a list of other pieces of what love means to me.
- Love is connected
- Love is when her actions match her words
- Love supports me in being myself
- Love is feeling seen, valued, and heard
3. I decided which red flags I ignored
One of the habits I had over and over in dating was seeing women for who I wanted them to be rather than who they really were. To remove my rose-coloured glasses, I make a list of typical red flags I glossed over in past relationships.
- Her reactions don't match the situation (anger)
- She blames her exes for all their issues
- She will not say she's sorry or take ownership
- She's generally judgmental or critical
Weeks after the wedding, as I visit the new brides in their home, we sip on cocktails and the conversation turns to dating. "So? Have you met anyone?" my dear friend asks. I take a sip of wine, smile and answer, "Yes, I believe I have. I think I finally met me." And we toast.
To read more about relationship red flags, check out Girls Guide to Health Dating: Between the Breakup and the Next U-Haul or here.
Kim Baker, author of Girls’ Guide to Healthy Dating: Between the Breakup and the Next U-Haul, is a dating columnist and writer whose writing examines healthier dating through the lens of mindfulness and self-care.