One word. Sounds simple right?
"Single" ideally means not married, not separated, not in a relationship, not "it's complicated." In short, it means: not taken.
But guess what single does NOT mean?
That's right. Now, say it with me: Single does not mean available!!
A person could very well be single and still not be in a position where they are ready to date you, let alone be in a relationship with you.
Twice this year alone I've been encountered by two individuals who by all intents and purposes are single. No one sleeps at their homes but them, no one has the title "girlfriend," and when it's tax season, they get to mark that cute little box that says, "Single," on their tax form. But our brief dealings quickly reminded me of one simple truth. We often get so lovestruck that we tend to forget: single just does not mean available.
For one individual (let's call him Bryant), though his best friend does not possess the title "girlfriend," the frequency of their time together, body language in the pictures they post, the secrecy and yes, the gift exchanges allude to otherwise. There is a void that she fills, that though her title is just "best friend," she functions as the role of girlfriend, so I wisely removed myself from whatever kind of triangle he thought was going to form. More details about this interesting exchange in a later post. I think I'm going to call it, "Intuition..." Teeheehee.
The other individual (let's call him Lawrence), I will forever respect because of his upfront transparency. While getting to know each other, he stated that he needed to be honest with me and let me know that he was just ending a relationship and though he thought he was ready to move on, he didn't think he was quite over his ex. I thanked him for being honest and fair in the beginning and not leading me on and because of his maturity, we are actually still friends to this day.
Two different experiences, but do you know what these experiences helped me realize dear reader? Single does NOT mean available!
1. not able to be used or obtained; not at someone's disposal. "material that is unavailable to the researcher"
2. (of a person) not free to do something; otherwise occupied. "the men were unavailable for work"
Let's dive deeper:
Relationally (or situationally) available:If someone is available in this capacity, it means that not only do their WORDS show they are single, their actions (and dare I say it in the case of Bryant---their social media timelines) show they are single too. This means there is no one serving in their life as a placeholder, a surrogate girlfriend, a pseudo girlfriend, or a play-play girlfriend void-filler. You know, someone who has all the perks and responsibilities of a girlfriend, without the title.
This includes but is not limited to: consistent sex (yep, I said it. There is NO WAY that you can have sex consistently with someone and one of the parties not develop feelings), multiple road trips with JUST the two of them, terms of endearment/pet names, hand holding, pop-up privileges, etc.
And this is not just about the guys, ladies. What about you?
Is there someone in your own life who you KNOW you have no intention of marrying and you KNOW he's not a good fit for a relationship but you hold onto him in case you need help with the car? Someone who, when lonely nights come in, you know he will be willing to spend time with you but you don't want to really give him a chance to date you?
If your dream bae were to come into the picture right now, can you honestly say you're ready for him? Is there someone else keeping his seat warm while you wait for him to come? Is that fair to you? Is that fair to the placeholder? Is that fair to future bae?
True story--I went to the birthday dinner of a suitor and we laughed and had such an amazing time. I was getting to know his friends for the first time and we even got to have our first dance. Until my bold placeholder (the guy who I only called if I didn't have a date with someone better (yeah, I used to be a mess)) saw us from across the room and came to the table to interrupt dinner. In front of every guest, he stated "Oh, so this is why you're ignoring my calls today!!!"
I was mortified, my suitor was embarrassed, and just like that, my chances with that beautiful, brilliant leader of a man were swept out the door. My best friend reminds me all the time that I should have been more clear with Placeholder and to beware of even the APPEARANCE of things. Placeholder appeared to be my angry boyfriend that caught me cheating when really he was just my FRIEND who had developed feelings for me. See, Placeholder was trying to build something with me while I was trying to build something with someone else.
So, say this with me: No more placeholders! Cuffing season is HERE (see previous post)! Who are you cuddling up to that you shouldn't be? Same way I had to get rid of a "friend" that was conveniently available when I was lonely, I'm hoping you'll do the same and instead spend that energy and time on growing to be the best you that you can be until the right relationship comes. The same thing goes with "Bryant." He will never be able to build with another woman until he comes to terms with his and his best friend's apparent feelings for each other and the space they fill in each other's lives.
So you say, Alexis, my guy doesn't fall into the category of being relationally unavailable. He's single for real, for real. Okay, but is he EMOTIONALLY available?
You may cross paths with or even exchange numbers with someone who is not EMOTIONALLY available also. This means they have not healed from the wounds of their past, creating barriers around their heart, their levels of communication or their ability to trust."
Lawrence" in our subsequent conversations stated that he doesn't know when or if he will ever desire to get married. One thing he knows for sure is that if his ex were to call him TODAY and say she'll take him back, he would leap, skip and double back-flip into a relationship with her without even a second thought.
So, the person you have your eye on this cuffing season, do they want the same thing you want? Are they looking for someone to pass the time with or are they looking for something more? Have they healed from their trust issues or do they constantly make you pay for the mistakes of the person that came before you? Have they taken time to heal before jumping into another courtship? Are they telling you, "You're cool and all, but I'm just looking for a friend," but you know deep in the back of your mind you're holding on hoping it will be something more?
And I have to ask, dear reader, what about you? Have you done the work to forgive people from your past? A preacher once told me, you will KNOW you have forgiven if you can look back and don't feel the same anger/sadness you felt when it initially happened. Or don't even put your mouth on the situation the same way.
Are you both two whole individuals and able to stand on your own or is either of you codependent and NEED this relationship to feel complete?
A person can very well be single and that's what they mark in the box when they file their taxes, but that does not mean they have space in their life for you. And even though you are the finest thing since sliced bread, it doesn't mean that they WANT to.
But there's hope:
I've been all of the above. I've been on both sides of BOTH coins, and let me tell you--- One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is YOU. Learn what makes you tick, why you want a relationship, why you want THIS relationship. Learn that when someone tells you or shows you they are unavailable, life doesn't end and staying/waiting for them to be available may or may not be the best for you. Learn to love yourself enough to have the hard conversations with Potential Bae to discern if you and them are on the same page. Learn what you're willing to stand for and what's not worth it to you. Learn how to walk away from situations that are toxic to your growth and emotional development. Learn when it's worth it to stand and stay and when to wave the white flag and say, "This isn't working for me." Learn that you can be with someone and still be lonely and you can be alone and be completely full of joy and choose the path that leads to joy! And let go of the folks who don't want to be held onto in the first place!
In people-math, in relationships, two halves don't make a whole. So, work on YOU being your best you and being available and watch the one who's their best self and finally available come along!! You got this!