I was a serial monogamist who constantly searched for ‘the one’ in my 20s and 30s. Embracing the single life in my 40s brought me more fulfillment than any relationship.

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For as long as I can remember, I’d been a serial monogamist. In my 20s and 30s, the pursuit of ‘the one’ was a constant, seemingly endless quest. Each new relationship was entered with the hope this would be it, the end to my search for the perfect partner. However, no one ever seemed to meet the towering standards I had set in my mind, leading to disappointment after disappointment.

I carried an idealized image of what the perfect relationship looked like — a picture-perfect life with the perfect partner. This consistent pursuit of an ideal became a hurdle, preventing me from fully experiencing and appreciating the relationships I was in. You’d think that realizing this would lead me to settle into an imperfect relationship, accept its flaws and make it work. But life had something entirely different in store for me.

In my 40s, I found myself single again but this time it was different. Instead of diving headfirst back into the dating pool, I took a step back. I decided to embrace being single, to break free from my illusion of perfection and open myself up to life’s endless possibilities.

This transition wasn’t easy. I had spent years envisioning myself with ‘the one’, it was a shock to suddenly redefine my identity outside of a relationship. Yet, this newfound freedom brought me more fulfillment than any relationship ever had.

Now, being single doesn’t mean I’ve sworn off relationships completely. Quite the contrary, it means being open to dating more freely, experiencing different people and situations without the pressure of finding ‘the one’. It means being open to a relationship if it happens naturally without forcing it into an idealized mold.

So here I am in my 40s, single and happier than ever before. My journey from serial monogamist to embracing singlehood is filled with lessons learned, insights gained and paradigms shifted. Let me share with you how this transition has been so far and the freedom it has brought me, as well as the challenges it continues to bring.

Discovering the Joy of Singlehood

Adjusting to the single life after years of constant relationships was a whirlwind experience. At first, it felt like being on a boat in the middle of a storm without a compass. But with time, I began to find my bearings and discovered a newfound sense of freedom.

I started to live life on my own terms. I pursued hobbies and interests that I had put on the back burner during my relationships, like painting and hiking. I reconnected with old friends and made new ones. I rediscovered the joy of spending time alone, indulging in simple pleasures like reading a good book or cooking my favorite meal.

Most importantly, I learned to appreciate myself more. I no longer needed someone else to validate me or make me feel complete. I became comfortable with who I am, flaws and all. This self-acceptance was liberating, it made me realize that I am enough just as I am.

Being single also meant dating more freely. But this time, it wasn’t about finding ‘the one’. It was about meeting new people, learning from them and enjoying their company without any pressure or expectations.

This journey towards embracing singlehood has been fulfilling in ways I could never have imagined while chasing the illusion of a perfect relationship.

In the next section, let’s explore why many people hold onto the belief that finding ‘the one’ is the ultimate goal in life and how this perspective might be holding them back from experiencing true fulfillment.

Challenging the ‘One True Love’ Narrative

The idea that there is ‘one true love’ for every individual is a belief ingrained in our society through fairy tales, movies, and societal norms. This narrative suggests that happiness and fulfillment can only be found when you meet ‘the one’.

For years, I bought into this story. I believed that finding my perfect partner would make my life complete. It was this belief that led me on a relentless pursuit, constantly searching for someone who could fit the mold of my idealized partner.

What I’ve learned from embracing singlehood is that this narrative can limit us. It puts immense pressure on us to find the perfect partner and creates unrealistic expectations for our relationships. It makes us believe that our happiness depends on someone else, which is an unfair burden to place on any relationship.

My perspective today challenges this myth. I’ve discovered that fulfillment comes from within, not from another person. Being single has allowed me to understand that I am whole on my own. I don’t need a partner to complete me or bring me happiness.

You can see me below talking about the damaging myth of the ‘perfect partner’.

Embracing Self-Love and Independence

The pivotal turning point for me was when I recognized and challenged the ‘one true love’ narrative that was deeply ingrained in me. I realized that my happiness and fulfillment should not be contingent on another person. This was a liberating realization, but it required concrete actions to truly embrace singlehood.

First and foremost, I made a conscious decision to practice self-love. I spent time acknowledging my strengths and accepting my imperfections. This involved a lot of introspection and unlearning of societal norms that I had internalized over the years.

Next, I focused on becoming comfortable with solitude. I started enjoying my own company and began doing things that I truly loved. This helped me realize that being alone is not equivalent to being lonely.

Lastly, I changed my approach towards dating. Instead of viewing it as a quest for ‘the one’, I started seeing it as an opportunity to meet new people and learn from them.

If you find yourself caught in the cycle of serial monogamy like I was, my advice is to take a step back. Challenge the ‘one true love’ narrative that may be holding you back. Practice self-love, enjoy your own company, and change your perspective towards dating. It may take time, but embracing these changes can bring you more fulfillment than you could ever imagine.

Stepping Back to Move Forward

Taking a step back from my serial monogamist lifestyle, I realized that the key to my transition was taking responsibility for my life, even when things didn’t seem to be my fault. This shift in mindset empowered me and helped me navigate other challenges in my life.

Here’s what I did:

  • Acknowledged my dissatisfaction with the constant pursuit of ‘the one’.
  • Faced the reality of my situation instead of seeking refuge in blind positivity.
  • Identified the external influences and societal conditioning that led me to idealize relationships.
  • Started pursuing personal ambitions and desires, rather than those imposed by external factors.
  • Broke free from societal expectations to seek self-empowerment.
  • Embraced practical self-development over feel-good mysticism. Practicality came in the form of self-love and enjoying solitude.
  • Dedicated time daily to practice introspection and self-improvement techniques.
  • Questioned societal myths and expectations around relationships that were limiting my potential.
  • Embarked on a journey of self-exploration to reshape my reality.

This journey wasn’t easy, but it was worth every step. The freedom and fulfillment I’ve found in embracing singlehood have significantly outweighed the perceived comfort of being in a relationship.

During this process, one resource that particularly helped me was the Love and Intimacy Masterclass on The Vessel. It provided valuable insights on breaking the illusion of the perfect partner and embracing self-love.

The key point is this: you have the power to shape your own reality. Don’t let societal norms and expectations dictate your happiness. Embrace the journey of self-exploration and you’ll find that there’s more to life than just seeking ‘the one’.

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Justin Brown

As co-founder of Ideapod, a digital publishing platform reaching millions, and creator of The Vessel, a new platform for self-knowledge, I bring a unique perspective to the world of culture, politics and psychology. With a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and M.A. (First Class Honours) from the Australian National University, I've dedicated my career to understanding and sharing new ideas and perspectives for a new generation.

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