When Harry Met Sally. The Notebook. Sleepless In Seattle. All of these movies, with their varying plotlines, are all designed to teach us the one thing, the single thing all of us romantics should be searching for in our romantic relationships: "the One."
The problem is that no romantic comedy prepares us what comes after that.
My story doesn't exactly follow the exciting witty script of a Nora Ephron chick flick.
It took a lot of years and a lot of heartbreak in my teens and the majority of my twenties before I found my "One". I also spent hours on the phone with my Russian mother, girlfriends, asking them to tell me what "One" to look for, as though Mr. Right was an unsolved mystery and every tidbit of advice would lead me to him.
Finally, the answer to the mystery came from a girlfriend, who was perpetually single until 34. She was finally getting married. "Quit, the search for the bad boy," she told me. "What everyone needs is a nice guy, that's how romance lasts."
She was right. Thus, as a single gal on the cusp of 30, I quit the search for Mr. Right at the bar -- short-term prospects that couldn't offer me anything more than a shot of Tequila and a one-night stand. I went online. I wrote to a guy looking for a long term relationship, who seemed to be a really nice guy because of how he described his cat.
He turned out to be a nice guy and now, so much more. Here we are. Seven months later, ready to give up our bachelor pads and move in together. It's an exciting time. It's a scary time.
It's scary, because in all that time I spent hunting for Mr. Right, I also spent plenty of time learning how to be alone. I was more than okay being alone, I grew to be content living that way.
My bachelorette pad had become my fiefdom, my kingdom of independence. It was a place where me and my girlfriends would congregate before a night out on the town. It was a place where I could make a huge mess crafting hairbands and watching Gossip Girl without worrying about anyone judging me.
When I first met "The one", I did have it all. We would have our fabulous dates and then I'd return to my fiefdom filled with my crafty messes. What romantic comedies don't prepare you for is that one day, when you do find "the One" and want to move forward with your relationship, your bachelor self, needs to evolve. Do I dare say, grow up!
Unfortunately, if you are like me, a product of Gen Y, growing up sucks. We feel entitled to everything. We want to find the "The One" and start a life with them, and yet, we want to have our bachelor lifestyle too. And there's only so long you can teeter totter the both of them. Pretty soon, you'll have to make a choice about what side of the teeter totter you are truly on.
Here are the three truths about finding "the One" Nora Ephron didn't prepare you for.
1. Compromise. To singles, this word is the kiss of death, akin to settling. To couples, it's a magical word that makes the relationship work. When you are single, sure, you need to be flexible over restaurants, dinner dates, but you don't really compromise anything. Why should you? You're in the process of finding "The One", and every dating gesture, conversational tidbit, and article of clothing counts.
The real compromising happens when you start doing more than working out dinner plans.
All of sudden, the person who was your soul mate over countless nights out, dinners, in total sync with you about your perspective one the world, your hobbies and musical tastes, can't stand to hear a radio blaring first thing in the morning. You love it.
It's a small thing, but a big thing. In your bachelor days, these little freedoms made you happy. But your not a sole proprietor anymore. You're a part of a partnership. Your monster of entitlement may convince you that you should be able to have your morning radio, and live happily ever after too. Don't listen. If your partner is unhappy, you will be too. Which is why compromising is important, both people need to be happy, and if that means giving a little more up, to get more happiness in exchange, it's a no brainer.
2. You'll miss your girlfriends. When you are single the non-stop parade of party nights are exciting. It's a weekly cycle of you and your friends pre-drinking at someone's place and then hitting the town -- a weekly adventure, which hopefully leads to Mr. Right along the way.
That is until you meet him and start watching your girlfriends hit the town without you. You won't miss the manhunt. You'll miss them.
That's okay. Finding that special someone doesn't mean you can't still have fun with your girlfriends, but it does mean, the more serious you get, the fun you had with your friends will change. You won't want girlfriends to hit the town and pickup men with; you'll want girlfriends to go shopping, drink coffee, and get pedicures with.
And at first, it is hard to acknowledge you've changed. Or for me, it has been. I wanted to fight the transition from party girl into a domesticated goddess. I wanted to be both.
You can't. And your best girlfriends, the friendships that spanned beyond swapping dating drama stories and manhunting, will understand that.
3. You still need to make yourself happy. Before there was "The One", there was, and still is, you. You had all sorts of life goals, career aspirations and hobbies that made you, You. Meeting "the One" makes you much happier personally, but romance has zero influence over how happy and satisfied you are professionally.
These truths may not be as glamorous as the big kiss scene at the end of When Harry Met Sally, but they are a part of the "to be continued" chapter following finding "The One", and hopefully, the start of so much more.
Clearing out distractions and allowing time for reflective thought is a great way to tap into your creativity. <a href="http://zenhabits.net/creative-habit/">Being alone with your thoughts</a> is oftentimes a prerequisite for the kind of outside-the-box that's necessary for artistic expression.
Although loneliness can be a contributing cause of depression, <a href="http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1131927?uid=3739936&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21101521304683">studies have found </a>that time spent in solitude can actually ward off depression in adolescents. A 1997 study found that although teens didn't describe solitude as a positive experience, many reported increased feelings of well-being afterwards.
When you're away from people, technology, work and the myriad distractions of everyday life, you can finally take time to breathe and just be. Use your alone time as a chance to clear out your cluttered mind and just get back in touch with yourself.
It's tough to stop and take stock when you're constantly on the go and spending time with friends, family or classmates. Taking a little "me" time gives you an opportunity to get away from distractions for long enough to reflect on your relationships and the course of your life so that you can determine what changes, if any, you may want to make.
Once you become more comfortable with the idea of being alone, doing activities like shopping, seeing a movie, or hiking by yourself can actually be enjoyable. You can do whatever<em> you </em>want without having to adhere to anyone's preferences, schedule or expectations. You might discover that spending at least one afternoon or evening per week on your own doing something you love can be totally relaxing and liberating.
Learning to enjoy the time you spend alone can help you to build a better relationship with yourself. Voluntary solitude is a great way to get back in touch with your feelings and remember all the things that make you awesome. If you want to feel more confident and self-sufficient, first tackle your fear of being alone.
Time spent in solitary reflection has been linked to <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201201/6-reasons-you-should-spend-more-time-alone">improved concentration</a>, as well as higher levels of academic performance. In their book "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses," authors and sociology professors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa <a href="http://www.bucknell.edu/x67495.xml">find that students who study alone</a> are more apt to succeed and retain knowledge than those who study in groups.