Your Ex-Boyfriend Will Hate This | The Commitment Vacation
I believe every human being, male or female, needs at least one year of their adult life of mandatory “single-ness” (an awkward word but useful for our purposes), a “commitment vacation.” I have often mentioned this to my friends, and I always receive a certain amount of resistance.
“What?! No intimacy? For a year?”
Before you hyperventilate, I’m not suggesting you give up any romantic interaction. Your needs are yours to explore as you see fit, but no serious relationships. You are banned from anything that even winks in the direction of a committed relationship. “Love at first sight” is not only banned from your kingdom, it will be shot if found anywhere on the premises.
If that seems unnecessarily punishing, and you honestly can’t imagine yourself without being with someone, I am tacking an extra year on there for you. Generally speaking, people who hold that view are serial monogamists who haven’t gone more than two months without a boyfriend since the day they first discovered the recreational usefulness of their bodies. They need an enforced commitment vacation more than anyone, and one year usually won’t do it. They have spent so much of their maturation process defining themselves by their significant others that when their partners are gone, almost no “self” remains... until a new "love" comes along to redefine it.
My suggestion for serial monogamists: two years. No appeals, no parole. “Self-discovery” is about more than finding out how much you’ll tolerate to avoid being alone.
This doesn’t mean there’s no value in monogamy. It may sound like an impossible contradiction to suggest true commitment must be preceded by a lengthy period without it. But connecting with the right person is like giving out directions on a map with you as the destination. If the map leaves out key details, especially those that might change completely, the map is useless. Even if you gave the map to exactly the right person, they couldn’t find you for a simple reason:
Even you don’t know where you are.
Describing this year as a “vacation” sounds like a contradiction. On a normal vacation, we choose to abandon the world we know, to go “off the grid.” However, the whole point of your commitment vacation is not to escape, but to try to find your way home—i.e., you. When you were ten, you didn’t worry about relationships, not romantic ones at least. You were still learning what it meant to be a daughter, a friend, a student and a good person. You were still dreaming about what you wanted to be when you grew up. You were just beginning to draw your map, as it were.
Why this self-discovery is so essential to your future happiness is simple. Because here’s what will change from now until the end of your life: everything.
Every aspect of your life—your friends, your job, your family, your lovers—will almost certainly change. If you marry, that may change some day too. (Your author can’t guarantee a 100% success rate, no matter how brilliant his advice is.) I bring up such a sobering truth to underline how important this period of uninterrupted period of self-discovery is.
After the world has thrown its worst at you, what part of you will remain?
Discovering who you are first will make it infinitely easier to discover that perfect partner. Failure to do so makes you powerless to find the right person and can make you susceptible to all sorts of romantic lies.
Write your new map with the newfound confidence of knowing exactly who and where you are. Because you can’t give directions without knowing where to start.
This is an abridged excerpt from Chapter 1 of the new self-help (and currently self-published) nonfiction book, “Your Ex-Boyfriend Will Hate This.” If you would like to read the rest, the book is for sale on Amazon, just search by name in the books section. You can follow the author on twitter at twitter.com/bluesullivan1.Blue Sullivan is a Montgomery native now living in Los Angeles who has proudly contributed to RSVP for five years. He would like to give special thanks to the wonderful Kim Traff for allowing him to do so, and most of all, for her friendship and inspiration. This book wouldn't have happened without her.