It’s Friday night. You and your best friend are on one of your couches watching He’s Just Not That Into You for the umpteenth time in Victoria’s Secret PINK sweatpants eating something greasy that was delivered to your door. Despite your glaring cliché, one or both of you puffs and sighs about how every guy is an asshole, how romance is dead, how Noah definitely wouldn’t have done this to Allie, and swipe through Bumble for the 8th consecutive time within the past 3 minutes.
It’s okay, we’ve all been there.
Believe me, I am no stranger to wanting to stay in and eat gross, yet delicious, take out food and complain to a good pair of open ears. But if you’re finding yourself in this situation of being hung up on love more often than not, hear me out.
Some might agree the modern dating world is well, complicated, to put it lightly. It’s harder to navigate than the average Trader Joe’s on a Saturday afternoon. Why are there so many people standing in front of the organic coconut milk, and can they stop ringing that damn bell? Between that and the Hawaiian T-shirts I feel a migraine coming on. Anyway, people don’t call back, or call at all, they text. And when they do text it’s something vague and slightly provocative, and insulting. And past 12 AM. On Tuesday. When the last time you heard from them was sometime in 2015 when they couldn’t show up for coffee because their grandma’s plumber’s dog died and they just had to be there. Did I mention their Instagram still has pictures of their last significant other? Oh wait, they’re still together, aren’t they? Yup, they are. If this scenario seems all too familiar to you, then the more stealthy feelings that creep up after every failed date or romantic encounter of, “Am I not good enough?” or “Will I ever find somebody who likes me for me?” are probably just as familiar, too. You are good enough, and you will find someone truly right for you on a mental and physical level. I believe that wholeheartedly, but here is what I’ve also found to be just as fundamentally true.
I don’t like the saying “you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else,” because I find it overly simplified. I’ve loved people very deeply when I didn’t even just not like myself, I hated myself. Even when I wasn’t my own biggest fan I still had an abundance of love to give. Admittedly, to the wrong people. So here’s what I do believe: until you establish a better relationship with yourself and set healthy boundaries for being who you are, the people who gravitate towards you will be a reflection of the way you feel about yourself. So, even if you don’t particularly like yourself you can still find someone to love. But that person will emanate some of the same issues of self-esteem as you, perhaps just in different ways.
Say you’re still closed off from being hurt in previous relationships so you don’t allow yourself to fully surrender to your partner. Meanwhile, your partner might not be fully healed from being chronically cheated on, and takes out those insecurities on you. So you wonder why the relationship isn’t forming a more intimate connection, and they wonder why you keep pulling away after every question about where you’re going, who you’re with, and what you’re doing. In short, you’re both projecting your insecurities and unhealed issues into the relationship, just in different ways. It’s a vicious cycle and all a symptom of the same line of thinking and of the same inner demon: fear. Fear is unfortunately a very necessary primal response that has kept us alive and growing as a species for the last 200,000 years, roughly, and has allowed us to advance into a progressive time of McDonald’s and Donald Trump. Exciting stuff. However, fear is still at the root of many of our problems with relationships, especially our relationships with ourselves.
I’ve been afraid to leave relationships because I was too afraid to face my demons and establish a better relationship with myself. I’ve been too afraid to surrender to love for fear that person would leave, again. And I’ve definitely been too afraid to approach someone for fear of *gasp* rejection. I’ve allowed partners to talk down to me, control me, and manipulate me to the point where I hardly knew myself anymore. And all that says about me is.. I didn’t like myself very much. And people who perpetuate those behaviors onto others tend not to like themselves very much, either.
So if you do happen to be sitting down one night taking a hard look at your dating history, scouring over the details of every unavailable guy, or the emotionally abusive girlfriend, or the chronic commitment-phobe who has been leading you around on a string for the past six months, it might be time to ask yourself what you’re bringing to the table. Sure, even some of us with the most sparking personalities and best of intentions sometimes encounter a bad egg or two, or seven. But if you’re noticing patterns in your relationships, I suggest you hop on board the self-reflection train with me and start making some changes to the way you see the world, and most importantly, yourself.
The difference with people who are emotionally invested in themselves and have strong personal boundaries is that when they know the bad egg is rotten, they know it’s going to stay rotten. And they get rid of it. A quote my mom always reminds me of is, “When people show you who they truly are, believe them.” Moms are always so good for that kind of advice, aren’t they?
At the end of the day, only you set the boundaries for how you allow other people to treat you. So start putting your foot down to bad behavior, and raising your head high when other people try to drag you into their bullshit. You’re better than that, and its high time you start believing it. You are what you attract. Don’t you want to be with someone just as amazing as you know you can be? Thought so. Also, I’ll bring snacks on the train. It’ll be fun, albeit a little bumpy, but worth it, I promise.
All my love,