Summer flings are meant to end. That is the simple beauty of them: they have an expiration date.
The concept sounds like a remarkably good idea in May. Equally as lovely in June and July while dancing through the honeymoon phase, knowing you’ll never see him pale and sad. But, in August — when said boy moves back to Indiana, leaving you with the subsequent week-and-a-half of painstakingly sorting through every moment you shared to ease your boredom while awaiting your own return to college — summer flings aren’t as fun.
The inevitable result of choosing a university that doesn’t start classes until around Labor Day weekend means that while my hometown friends are already fussing over papers and bad dining hall food, I’m home, alone. There I was, in my hometown, reflecting on the past couple of months while walking my dog and picking up groceries for my mom.
My most prominent thought?
‘I miss him.’
Of course, I do. I am boiling our relationship down to a summer fling, but in all reality, there are years and years of history that perfectly explain why I already feel nostalgic over what had only left me three days ago.
Not to mention, the seemingly up-in-the-air way we left things. Will this relationship end with August? Will I strictly see him when we are both home — adding a new layer of relatability to Taylor Swift’s “‘tis the damn season”? Will he pine over me for years — because why wouldn’t someone fall in love with me — while driving through our perfectly suburban backroads and ice-cream-for-dinner dates? These are all questions that quickly took a backseat when ideas surrounding validation crept to the forefront of my mind.
I do miss him. However, that feeling is accompanied by an emptiness that is most definitely not the result of a summer prospect. The stronger emotion is a longing for validation — a recurring experience no matter the seriousness or length of a relationship.
Whether it’s a boy who complimented me in passing or one I dated for two years, when he exits my life, the validation that his presence brought me is truly the empty hole left behind. Now I understand myself to be a relatively secure, independent person, but filling myself with do-no-wrong affirmations seems like a dangerous line for my ego to tiptoe across.
How does one find self-validation without escaping to an idealistic world of undeserved admiration?
My answer has come in the form of dating myself again. With the absence of the previously mentioned boy and my closest friends, I have been forced into extensive time with myself. Rather than fill it with endless scrolling leading to getting to know internet personalities and the cast of “Bachelor in Paradise” better than myself, I have been practicing anything that comes up when you search “how to spend my alone time,” whether it be reading, writing, walking, reflecting or procrastinating packing.
By being my own friend, I am uncovering genuine qualities about myself that I appreciate without fluffing my ego with unauthentic falsities to fill the void of extrinsic praise.
When you find aspects of yourself that you enjoy, no one can get in a car and drive off with that validation. You become the provider of that warm, kind feeling you get when a stranger compliments your shoes or various classmates nod along to your rambling comment in lecture.
Self-appreciation can’t necessarily match the thrill of an unexpected remark detailing how lovely another person thinks you are, but making a point to acknowledge that you, too, see yourself as lovely numbs the longing for it.
All in all, boys are fun and supply some top-notch debriefing material. However, they are most useful when they leave, and you get to fall in love with yourself all over again.