The secret to being single

in Columnist: Samuel Krueger/Love Series by

Being single gets a bad rap on Valentine’s Day, but it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

By Samuel Krueger

I laughed when my editor asked me to write a column about love for Valentines Day. I haven’t been in a serious, committed relationship since freshman year of college and now I am about to graduate in December. Nevertheless, I agreed.

Contrary to what one might think, being single in college is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

My first year at Bethel, I broke up with my high school sweetheart. Though the breakup was tough, it did not break me. My three year relationship was amazing and overwhelmingly positive. Prom, hour-long goodbyes, surprise dates down to Stillwater and pushing vis hours to the limits, I can honestly say that have no regrets.

Moving on from that relationship was hard, but it was made easier once I realized that I had learned so much from it. I learned about what it means to be accountable to someone else, what it means to trust another person inexplicably and what it means to love someone unconditionally even if that means taking your life in a different direction.

When that relationship ended, I decided that I would stay at least mostly single for a while and use that time to figure out who I was. And honestly, this has been the greatest adventure of my life.

For me, college has been a time where I have expanded my horizons in every way I could, particularly through travel. I have trekked the jungles and cities of Taiwan, surfed the dunes of the Sonoran Desert and danced with friends on the beaches of Lovers Key. During this time I have met lots of amazing, interesting people.

Becoming a people person was one of my greatest gains as a single man.

I love meeting new people, but as a blonde with blue eyes, meeting people while in a foreign country is almost always more fun. I can’t even count the times that a Taiwanese gal came up to me simply to feel my hair. I even got a discount at one shop because a hostess asked me to wink at her. The best part of traveling, however isn’t the short interactions but the genuine human connections.

The best part about meeting someone on the road, knowing that you’ll never see them again, is that all the feelings seem to cram themselves into that short amount of time where you get to know them. Every purposeful interaction that I have had as a single man has felt so much more real since I learned to look at people through a different lens.

Meeting people on the road is easier. Asking someone to get drinks or to dance is so easy when you know that you only have one encounter to get things right. There’s a sense of urgency, on both sides, that make you forget the potential embarrassment of rejection or the nervous stumbling of words.

But while beautiful in their own right, these relationships (if you can call them that)  aren’t fulfilling. Easy is rarely the most meaningful.

Looking back, I found out several key things while single these last few years. First off, The most real relationships aren’t the ones that happen over a night or a weekend. This is simply because you rarely grow emotionally from these relationships. And emotional growth is one of the main purposes of a relationship. Secondly, I did end up finding out something about myself. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I finally know who I am, I know who I want to be and, most importantly, I know who I want to be with.

I know that I still don’t know everything. I know that love is simultaneously one of the most scary, but also the most amazing things God ever created. I know that it’s OK to let your guard down sometimes. I know that I want to love selflessly and broadly. I have learned that a significant other shouldn’t define you, but that your relationship with them does. And finally, I know that I want to be with someone who understands that relationships aren’t static. That relationships grow and people learn and change along the way.

There really is no perfect recipe for a good relationship. Over the past few years I have had romances with short girls and tall girls, scholars and athletes, blondes and brunettes. I’ve had relationships that lasted years and months and ones that lasted only days. But in the end, it’s your priorities, your commitment and your willingness to grow that matter the most.

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