Unsolicited: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

On a weekly basis, I face a multitude of conundrums regarding my dating life, which isn’t uncommon for a single woman in her twenties. However, I’ve developed this bad habit of recycling my exes. In my defense, I spend the majority of my time in the company of other women between ballet and my sorority, which in large part, is a blessing. That being said, I prefer to push myself in a professional light, and keep my dating life leisurely and comfortable. Unfortunately, for me, going back to an ex is the very definition of leisurely and comfortable. I always know what I’m signing up for with an ex. Of course, the downside of recycling is that there are multitudes of reasons why individuals become exes, and my exes are no exception.

On a random Saturday night on the row, I settled into my usual routine of reintroducing myself to drunk frat boys for the umpteenth time and living the life of the ultimate working mother: watching out for my sorority sisters while trying to find a mildly entertaining boy for myself. To pass the time and find a way out of the humdrum of my usual routine, I dove into my list of recyclable exes, and from my pre-exiting, functional list, only shambles remained. The majority of my exes are contentedly in relationships with other women. A few are even on the road to marriage, and while I’m happy for them because everyone deserves to find an earth shattering love, I can’t help but wonder when it will happen for me. My joy for their pre-marital bliss soon turned into selfish rage. How dare they leave me behind? Realistically though, how long did I expect my chronic recycling to last? Everyone has moved on, seemingly, except for me.

The sad truth is that dating is hard, in part, because it forces us to put ourselves out there, to meet new people, and to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. My default setting is reduce, reuse, and recycle because I don’t have to build a rapport or show vulnerability with a new person. Within my rude awakening, I had to face the fact that my exes were happy whether they were blissfully unaware as a career asshole or becoming Instagram famous with their cute, Utah-relationship archetype photos. Relying on recycling an ex as a healthy source of personal fulfillment is a dangerous road to tow, and I certainly wasn’t benefiting from it. In fact, it was making me downright self-conscious.

I had to do something about my recycling, so on that random Saturday, my immediate solution was to go home, bury my face in my dog’s fur, and cry. But to my surprise, I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed like the air after a good rain shower, and more importantly, I felt motivated to get back out there. Although I didn’t end up with my exes, they each taught me about what qualities I value in a life partner and what I can do without. With the dissolution of each relationship, I get closer to finding Mr. Right and improve on discerning treasure from trash.