This concept is neither new or news, but it seems I run into this simple idea more often than makes sense to me. From a woman’s perspective, this situation appears to play on repeat until the lesson is finally learned, till you memorize the song, dance, melody and guitar riff. Myself included—I have no shame in admitting I was once a fool when it came to love. A coming of age tale, The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, said it best and I would argue truer words couldn't find single women fast enough— “Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve.” Feel free to insert your name here.
This rule is fundamental, yet it is often broken and takes some of us several attempts to really let it sink in and anchor their decisions when it comes to love. Hind sight being a truly 20/20, 3D glasses (and sometimes IMAX) kind of experience, I’ve dissected the moments in my love life where I undoubtedly sold myself short, made it easy, and bent over backwards for a person I knew would never give me the love I wanted or deserved. So, why did I accept this crappy love? For the same reason everyone does—we don’t know our worth! If you had to analyze what you are worth in dollars and cents, without looking at your bank account of course, ( and clearly this is ethically and morally not the case, but money is quantifiable so bear with me) I could only hope that you would reply without hesitation absolutely PRICELESS. Now, apply that logic to the hypothetical auction for your heart. Why would you give it away to the lowest bidder?! We may not value ourselves to be a “perfect 10,” but you do have something wonderful to offer someone. I can understand viewing yourself as a prize may seem a little conceited, but I assure you, it’s not. Personally, I recommend reveling in your awesomeness on a daily basis, because at the end of the day— and I think Taylor Swift would agree— haters gonna hate.
All this may sound derivative, a page ripped out of some best selling self help book, but the fact is I know real people living unhappy love lives and spoon feeding themselves excuses as to why they stay, or can’t find meaningful relationships. It’s just bonkers! Everyone knows someone like this, so do the math... that’s a lot of people in need of a self esteem boost. Thankfully, the reason there are so many is because we are all a work in progress, we can choose better once we’ve arrived at this ah-ha moment. To attempt to speed up your reaching this epiphony, I’ll let you in on my dirty little secret to finding love: put your needs first, respect and love yourself, and take responsibility in setting your standards. A wise man once told me, when it comes to love you have to hire them slow and fire them fast. Yes, it sounds a bit cold like vetting a potential employee— and you’re probably wondering if this strategy belongs in the emotional realm of things—but hear me out. When you meet a person, your instincts are rarely off, either you like em’ or you don’t. You either feel a spark or a fizzle. If you do spark, after spending some one-on-one time together you either hit it off and proceed to do mental somersaults of giddiness, or you have just enough in common to finish the meal. Here is where lack of self worth, boredom, desperation, or even sexual attraction get in the way to fuck up your ability to reason and avoid sliding down the slope of mediocrity. Don’t get me wrong, meeting new people and getting to know them takes a lot more than just a day or two—and sometimes it’s just a matter of seeing someone you already know in a new light— but agree with me or not the happiest ( and healthiest) of relationships will tell you they knew almost immediately this was a person who was going to change their life for the better. For me, it was as simple as walking into a friend’s barbeque and locking eyes with a stranger/grill-master and feeling a very strong impulse to make babies with him….Okay that wasn’t my first thought, could have been the second— but I will wholeheartedly admit that I felt myself swooning in love on our first date. Everyone deserves this kind of connection, and it’s absolutely within your reach, not some pipe dream hollywood is tryin' to sell.
In the spirit of our February #LoveCleanse on The Emerald Journal, I want to offer you a challenge— and should you accept I hope you take it seriously. Your happiness is very important not only to you, but it’s vital to everything in your life. I did this while searching my soul for the woman I wanted to become, and the love I was confident existed for me. I have to say some pretty magical things happened, and the high standards I set for myself were beyond surpassed by my husband. Granted, my success in love could have been for many other reasons than just this exercise—fate, destiny, law of attraction etc.— but at the very least it’s a pretty solid step in the right direction.
The Nitty Gritty:
I want you to really take a candid look into yourself and make a list of reasons why you think you’re worthy of love. After you make this list I want you to read them out loud. And repeat that until you believe it. Analyze your past relationships, why they ended, and how were you culpable in that? There are two sides to every story, so ask yourself, what did I do (or not do) which lead to unhappiness and heartbreak? Then try to find the root cause. I’m willing to bet the answer lies somewhere between I don’t know what I’m worth and I’m completely blind to what would really make me happy. Reaching either of these conclusions could shift so many things into perspective for you— it did for me in a huge way. It was the difference between attracting real love and attracting sub-par suiters. No one is perfect, and you must know that finding lasting love starts with you. Love yourself, and the rest will flow into your life naturally. Until you have gathered enough emotional intelligence I don’t recommend hitting the dating pool, but if you happen to go out on a date or meet someone new etc. I want you to do three things:
Ask yourself a short series of questions. Initially, what are my instincts telling me about this person? Do I feel like myself around them? Are you having a great time as a result of their company? If you have all positive internal feedback then you may be on the right track.
Respect yourself enough to know better than to settle for mediocre manners. If your date/potential date is not giving you undivided attention (i.e. no cellphones or social media at the table), engaging you in thoughtful and entertaining conversation, and giving a valiant effort to impress you with eye contact and not starting down your blouse, then I would say close the door to meeting again. Nothing excuses rudeness, you want someone on your level, and openly looking for something meaningful.
Whether you are a kiss on the first date kind of person (and yes I mean just kiss) or more conservative, in my opinion means nothing. If it feels right, go for it! If it feels expected, don’t go for it. If you have to think too much, clearly there’s something awry. When you really like the person, you take some time before jumping into bed. I don’t care who agrees with me, this is my personal opinion. In case you were wondering, my husband gave me a lingering kiss on the cheek after our first date, but I felt electricity course through my veins, so I figured he was worth seeing again. Also, building up some suspense to the bedroom ensures you’re both in it for more than just the physicality. Furthermore, if I wrote this for the single girl looking for casual sex, I would have much less to say.
3. Read between the lines. Knowing when to pursue and when to keep searching can be challenging when loving yourself is still an issue. Not that you can’t just get lucky and find a perfect match, but in my experience you have to know how to give the love you are searching for inwardly. Study how you feel, and again, hire slow and fire fast. The idea here is not to be judgy or superficial, it’s to know the difference between real connection, and a potential lackluster relationship. Although, we do learn from any and every failed experiment, if you’re reading this you likely have plenty on the learning curve.
I learned hosting a holistic approach on love, and nurturing my mind, body, and soul helped me find the kind of relationship the universe was setting me up for all along. You’re on your path so take what resonates, but I promise amazing results by simply taking on the challenge of loving yourself as a daily practice of gratitude. You're beautiful and infinitely full of potential for wonderful things, and love is the source.