Image courtesy of vibevixen.com
I took it upon myself to de-clutter my love life. You know, similar to re-organizing a closet but instead of getting rid of old, unworn clothes, I was getting rid of guys. The goal was to re-evaluate my romantic relationships to determine which were taking up space and which were fruitful, potential-filled opportunities for a meaningful relationship.
Let me be honest, the evaluation didn’t take long. None of them had the potential to turn into something real. I had been building on non-potential relationships for the past year which I felt contributed to my singleness. I cultivated these “relationships” because I thought I was being open-minded by giving guys a chance. More importantly, I was using them to fill a void until something better arrived. I managed to accrue a group of guys who had no desire to contribute to my life in a meaningful way. Armed with ambition, I realized it was time to clear out the clutter for what I really wanted.
In the beginning of my dating-in-a-new city journey, all I desired from a man was the superficial. “I don’t want anything serious,” I’d say proudly. Therefore, I became a casual dater. I’d present myself as a Friend With Benefits (FWB) or Cuddle Buddy and I was comfortable with this arrangement—happy even. At the time I thought I was taking control of my life. I didn’t “need” a man, I just kept them around for entertainment. Consequently, this produced a series of bad first dates and one long-term FWB.
Then I turned 33 and a number of things happened: I was poised to make a career move that would for once give me job security. I was finally getting used to my city and most important, I realized I wanted to be in a meaningful, long-term relationship that would lead to marriage and children. So when I looked at my “friends”, I realized none of them could give me what I wanted. I have to admit, upon this realization, I didn’t immediately de-clutter. Instead I continued to date casually while deep down wanting something more. This continued for another month or so when I finally surrendered. I compared what I wanted to what I was getting and decided to end all my casual, not-going-anywhere-friendships. This proved to be harder than I thought.
As I negotiated text conversations and amicably ended friendships, I started to feel lost, empty and alone. Alone—the one thing I didn’t want to be since relocating from the Midwest to L.A. I started to panic. While a part of me felt free and relieved about not having my time wasted, the other part began second-guessing my decisions. It was like regretting throwing away a dress I knew I’d never wear.
The idea of not having time-fillers/wasters in my life began to scare me. What if my special person never showed up? What am I supposed to do on the weekend when everyone was out with their partners? Who was I going to talk to or text? I realized that these “friendships” were actually a distraction from the reality of being alone. They weren’t adding to my life—they were providing me with an opportunity to avoid the truth. This is when I began to understand how big my fear of being alone really was.
By de-cluttering, I was coming clean—literally. I understood that my casual dating was actually an attempt to hide my loneliness. It was a pain killer, a pint of Haagen Dazs or a shot of whiskey, a temporary fix for a very serious issue. By de-cluttering my love life, I was taking ownership of who I really was. In the end, I wanted a meaningful relationship and dating casually was not going to get me what I wanted. It was only making things worse.
I cried after I told my FWB that we couldn’t see each other anymore. He was the last person I told for a reason. I didn’t want to let him go—let us go, or at least the image of us. But I did. The charade was over; I was alone. No more texts, superficial conversations, broken promises or meaningless sex. While I should’ve been excited about my liberation, I cried and cried. I’m a single, black, educated woman. What was I going to do now?
When we clean out our closets we’re left with a few key memories. While it’s sad to look at that desolate space with clean shelves and empty hangers, we have to remember there’s hope. We’ve created a hopeful space—a space that’s now ready to be filled with what we need, want and deserve. There’s something to be said for standing in my singleness, no fake relationships or FWBs. I’m not using anyone for entertainment or a temporary fix. I’m 33, single and ready for something real and that’s okay with me.
Have someone in your life who’s taking up space? Perhaps you too should de-clutter for love!
Chantell Monique is addicted to Harry Potter, Bronco football and Rom-Coms. She’s an English professor and screenwriter; she currently lives in Los Angeles.