Featured Writer: Tara Beppel
Sex & Relationships When You're a Grown-Ass Woman
TARA BEPPEL tells a story about the year that she finally let go of bad relationships in order to build a relationship with herself.
I never thought that I would be good at this thing called dating. I mean yes, I’ve dated, but I was never good at it. The two boys that I have dated in my lifetime both went on to become my boyfriends. That’s the end goal after all, right? In between my high school and college boyfriends, I wouldn’t really consider what I did “dating.” I mean, getting too drunk and making out with your older sister’s friend doesn’t count, right? Or just convincing yourself that Sam O’Connor should graduate from the friend zone? I seem to work in extremes. I’m either someone’s devoted, long term girlfriend, or extremely single. I would probably run for the high hills if Sam O’Connor ever mentioned becoming my boyfriend. There’s seemingly always some guy around, just clearly not the right guy.
Maybe it’s because I’ve never understood jumping from relationship to relationship. I don’t understand why when one relationship ends, a new one just immediately starts the next month. Honestly, most of my friends work that way, and I have always felt a bit disconnected with them for that reason. Is it a coping mechanism of theirs to simply hide away their sadness with the distraction of a new boy who showers them with compliments and infatuation? That part we definitely have in common. However, isn’t that what a rebound is? Are girls perpetually turning their rebounds into relationships? Where is the step that I am missing between distraction and commitment? Is it me or is it my friends? I have always thought that they are the crazy ones who never seem to properly mourn the loss of a relationship. However, as I get older I realize that “just having fun” after the end of long term relationship is a step to find the next boyfriend. LADIES – why isn’t it about finding yourself?
I definitely "found myself" during the year I was single after breaking up with my college boyfriend. I have to say, it was a great ride filled with the crazy moments that every girl in their young twenties should experience. I went hotel pool hopping with strangers in Miami, I literally danced until the sun came up at 7 AM, and I met plenty of boys who were seemingly infatuated with me in ways that my ex never was. This all happened on my terms, and that’s a really great feeling.
There something that my good friend Janelle told me upon breaking up with my college boyfriend back in January 2015. She said, “There’s something really empowering about being on your own.” She told me this at one of lowest points in my break up. At the time I didn’t believe her, but now nearly two years later, I realize that she could not have been more right. The last two years have been filled with hard work, focus, and self-reflection. I have learned that Meghan Cheek is more like a sister than a friend, my mother and sister are my soulmates, and that my father and brothers are the men my exes should aspire to become, but will inevitably never amount to. During this time, I focused on my own self-discovery, rather than someone else’s, and that’s pretty rewarding.
What’s more? After this, I met someone who allowed me to perpetuate the hard work, focus, and self-reflection instead of crushing it the way my ex did. This was not something I was looking for in the slightest. Believe me, I wanted to stay single. Society acts like single women are martians, and I was happy to stay outside the inner circle of normalcy. I was doing way too well on my own. Then, I realized, it’s just as bad to close yourself off to a relationship as it is to settle for one. Let me tell you, after my ex and I broke up, the insane insecurities that he had brought out in me tried to make me into one of those women who settle. They tried to tear me down, convince me I was ugly, and that I would never find someone who would essentially “tolerate” me, let alone love me. Then I met Thomas Joseph Quinn. Not only did he convince me that relationships are a good thing, but he showed me how it is to properly love someone unconditionally.
While I would say that Tom is an essential part of my happiness and has been for the past year, he did not save me. That year on my own saved me. I saved me.