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It’s a rationalization we casually flip around. It rolls off the tongue, like digesting a teeny capsule. “I think I need a boyfriend right now,” my gal friend offers across the dinner table, while maneuvering the home made dosa into her mouth. “I feel like that would make things better.”

I’m nodding and eating as she continues pontificating on the subject. Her reasons sound convincing; she wants to care for someone else, to feel wanted and she’s craving affection.

“It’s human. I get it,” I replied in agreement, sambar bubbling out of my lips. “You should date amar (the cook who made the dosa).”

We laugh some more about the kind of manic guy she’ll end up with and how much will he  hate me and slowly the meal concludes. It wasn’t until later on when I started reflecting on what my strong galfriend (not girlfriend) had said, that I realized I had given her poor advice.

I know plenty of great ladies with boyfriends who still have their own personal problems, irrespective of their dating status. A significant other was not the answer to my friend’s 20-something insecurities. She needed to understand and value herself first.

Perhaps we were socialized and encouraged by too many early Disney movies to believe that when a woman finds a man, she is rescued from her world and can live happily ever after.

It’s an old-school mentality that, in 2014, still hangs around disguised in different language. Maybe we haven’t fully trusted that “having it all” can also mean “having it alone.”

We list “find a boyfriend/girlfriend” up there with “change jobs” and “move apartments,” like it’s another task on our to-do lists, meant to straighten everything out. There’s nothing romantic or organic or passionate about that. That’s not the stuff that everlasting love and happy endings are made of.

We can’t rely on other people to fix what’s wrong with us inside. It’s not fair to put that kind of demand on someone, and it’s not fair to deny yourself a chance to do it first.

Sure, support is always welcomed and it’s harder to go at it solo. But a boyfriend/girlfriend

is only filling those holes temporarily. When you’re comfortable with your soul and know how to pick yourself up, that happiness lasts your entire life.

Here’s why “I need a boyfriend” is not the answer to your problems.

It’s something deeper-rooted

You need to ask yourself why you want a boyfriend. Ask yourself the tough questions and don’t be afraid to go there.

Real talk looks like this: Do you need validation? Are you in desire for attention? Do you just need to have a steady lay? Do all your friends have one? Answering these questions will explore the issue deeper and open yourself up to a variety of solutions, that don’t necessarily involve boyfriends.

The reality is that your issues will still be there even if you find a boyfriend to temporarily alleviate them. It’s a high in the beginning, but when the dust settles you still need to face yourself. Only you can change how you feel about yourself.

You need to learn how to fulfill yourself

What makes you happy? What do you admire most about yourself? A boyfriend won’t make you love yourself, he’ll just make you feel like it’s okay to.

Independence is something you’ll need with you even when you enter into a long-term relationship. Having a sense of self and not being afraid to express that actually makes you more valuable as a partner than merely conforming to his expectations.

It’s equally rewarding to find fulfillment from caring for someone else and taking care of yourself. Appreciating the things around you is another way to find self-satisfaction, and it doesn’t require a boyfriend.

You’re putting your self-worth in someone else’s hands

There’s a difference between enjoying the confidence boost we get from male attention and relying on a man to build our self-esteem for us.

Kim Kardashian once said of Kanye West, in the December 2012 issue of Cosmopolitan U.K., “He’s great at boosting my confidence. He gives me compliments in every way possible.”

Notice how she didn’t say she was lacking any to begin with. Kim already possesses self-assurance and security, Kanye’s admiration just reinforces it.

When you love someone, his affection and praise feels extra special because you hold him in high-regard — not because you need it to feel better about yourself.

We can’t depend too much on a boyfriend to make us feel good about ourselves — then we’ll always judge ourselves based on someone else’s standards. You mustn’t let your self-worth be determined by a man.

Work on loving yourself first instead of working on someone to love you. You might be surprised to find more than just answers.

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Azmaan Khan

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