The content of each post is solely written by that contributor and only expresses the contributor's personal views. Each post does not represent the views of all the contributors or Women of Color Living Abroad as an organization. Each contributor is speaking from their own person experiences and/or perspective.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Alone But Never Lonely: Single And Not Really Mingling Abroad

By:  Brittany S

            Some of you may have heard a little bit of my views on dating abroad during my interview, but here is a little bit more.  I know some are probably thinking, here’s another one of those bitter articles written by someone during “Cuffing Season” that doesn’t have a “Cuff Link.”  This isn’t one of those “#TEAMSINGLELADIES #TEAMINDEPENDENTWOMEN #TEAMIGOTMYOWN #TEAMBADDESTCHICK” type of posts.  Several people have asked me to talk about my dating life, so before you dismiss my views, hear me out! :-)

Thanks Judy Garland.
I don’t think we should work on finding “Mr. Right” when we are not together ourselves.  Even a link won’t stay together if it isn’t complete.  We shouldn’t have holes in ourselves and look for others to fill them.  If I feel something is missing in my life, I need to figure out how to put it there on my own and think of a man as an ADDITION, not COMPLETION to my life.  We should be content with self and not feel we “need a man.”
Now, in saying this, I’m not saying I don’t WANT a man; I welcome him, whoever he may be.  But I’m a firm believer in being in a relationship because of the PERSON and not the RELATIONSHIP.  I think oftentimes people decide to date just so they can be with SOMEONE and not necessarily THE ONE.  If we choose to date just for the sake of dating, that’s fine.  But we shouldn’t later try to fit someone into a different equation than the one we initially invited them into.  If we choose to date on a more personal level, then we should be a bit more selective and not just date space-fillers.

How do I know?  Because I used to do that.  I met a Black man in Malaysia who hung out with me for a total of about 6 hours and in that time he said to me—
“You’re beautiful—inside and out.  You’re the type of woman my mom would be happy to meet.  You’re smart.  You don’t speak much, but it isn’t because you’re shy.  It’s because you only speak when you feel you have something valuable to add to the conversation.  You don’t speak just to hear yourself talk.  You’re observant and protective…even of your heart.  You’re amazing, but you don’t know it.  You don’t think people really like you, like…men.  But you’re beautiful.  Really, you are.”
That resonated with me.  As I sat there in awe of how he just described me, my friend blurted out “YUP! Hahahahaha!!!”  Really?  People could gather all of that about me from such a brief interaction?  That made me conscious of the type of men I attracted, and the type I’d allowed to stay.  I dated my first boyfriend because I was turning 18 soon and had never been kissed, let alone had a boyfriend.  So, I dated him as a rite of passage.  I’ve been in relationships with others that I realize I should not have dated from the start, either just for the sake of dating, or because I thought they were as good as I was going to get.  Something needed to change.
            I haven’t been in a relationship in almost three years.  I haven’t really dated much since then either.  I told you this whole diatribe to say this:  A season of being single, particularly in a foreign country, is a remarkable thing!

While we are abroad, we look for something familiar, even if that is someone.  But sometimes that person possesses the type of familiarity that we really don’t need to reawaken.  It’s easier to “settle” abroad, especially if you don’t think of your new home as a permanent one.  But here’s the thing—while we are settling, we are hindering so many other things.  Being abroad is heavily a time of self-development in all areas.  I know people who have gone abroad for mental clarity, physical health, monetary gain…you name it!  Whatever area(s) they felt weak in, they have been able to strengthen it abroad.  Why complicate that with someone you don’t even care for?  Furthermore, when you get past the threshold of wanting to be with someone because you haven’t been with someone in a while and deciding to fly solo until someone really catches your attention; you become a more desirable person to others, including yourself.
            I don’t think that if you are in a relationship, you are clingy or can’t stand on your own.  Also, I am not saying that you need to “force” the single period.  Not at all.  If you are dating and/or in a healthy relationship, that’s great!  I just hope you realize that if you feel lonely because you are not with someone right now, that means you still have some more room to grow.  Depend on self to bring you happiness.  Don’t expect from others what you can’t provide for yourself.  Decide what you really want out of this experience abroad.  Is your main goal a relationship?  Does being in a relationship prevent you from reaching your main goal?  What are you sacrificing by staying single?  What are you gaining?

            I would love to share this experience abroad with someone…now.  Before, when I felt like damaged goods and like I was hiding, what exactly would I have been sharing…misery?  But when I got over it, I traveled, laughed harder, made new friends, strengthened old relationships, and have seen/done things I never thought I would.  Most importantly, I have become a better companion.  I like the idea of getting to know a person on a friendly (non-physical) level and building on that.  When we are physical, it clouds our judgment and we make decisions based primarily on that.  What happens when that slows up or changes?  But when you care about a person’s very being, it strengthens everything else.  I have several guy friends that I have made in countries all over the world, and even have crushes on a few.  But I’m no longer pressed to see “where things go” with them.  I enjoy their company as is, and if things progressed, cool.  If not, *shrugs* cool.
          Before, I was ready to add someone to my life to help me complete it.  Now, I have so much going on in my life that it is so fulfilled that when I consider dating someone, I think about how they need to bring something to the table to make up for the room I will have to make for them.  This morning I booked tickets to the Bahamas with my best friend.  We decided to go three days ago.  Travel is a major part of my life now!  If I am going to be with someone, could I see myself traveling with them, or them being worth me foregoing a few trips?  So for “Cuffing Season” I will remain “uncuffed” and be on a beach somewhere with my bestie, content with life.  Who knows, maybe next year someone different will be catching some rays with me.  But in the meantime and forever, I’m living!

The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams. –Oprah


  1. what's cuffing season?

    1. It is slang for a time of year where people stop "playing the field" so much and settle down with someone to keep them warm during the cooler seasons. It usually ends when the weather gets warm again and women start baring it all with mini skirts, etc. Then people end up back on the market.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts so honestly. I'm a big advocate of cultivating a relationship with one's self before seeking out "the one". I vividly remember a period in my life where I wanted to really know myself, my purpose and journey, so I would know who would be the right life companion for me. Thankfully, I found him! ;)

    1. I was just telling a friend this was the hardest post for me to write because it was about my emotions. It was originally A LOT longer but I had to cut it down. I'm glad people understand where I am coming from :-) And awww, congrats to you! One day... :-)

  3. That was a deep and profound quote you should be in a relationship for the PERSON and not the relationship! I love it!

  4. Brittany I just knew there was a reason we hit it off when we first met! I completely understand this. I believe that being single is not a bad thing it is really a time for you to work on you. I feel you cannot truly be in a relationship with another person if you have not been in a true relationship with yourself.