This post was originally published on eHarmony’s blog.
My ex and I broke up in September of 2011 – it was one of those dramatic, romantic comedy-esque kind of scenes: I asked for more, he couldn’t give it, he offered a half-hearted plea for me to stay and I grabbed the next cab I saw uptown to my apartment, while it rained (of course) and I cried the whole way home.
In the months that turned into years after that I’ve been dating in New York – one of those cities with a bad reputation for being more about career than love – I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons. Like – if a guy says he’s 5’11 in his online dating profile, he’s likely around 5’8”. Or when a guy says he’s not looking for a relationship, he’s not, no matter how easygoing, beautiful, sexy or sassy you might be. And that there are more than enough men who are willing to wine and dine you, but not too many that actually want to talk to you and listen. I think that’s why love is so valuable when we do eventually stumble across it, the work to get there feels really, really hard.
And at times… exhausting. So tiring in fact, that last year, I decided I’d stop focusing on the men and I’d start putting the attention on myself. Seems simple, right? You would think so, but self-love is something I’ve been thinking about, writing about, talking about and figuring out for a long time.
For whatever reason, 2014 was different. I finally stopped sleeping with my ex (yeah, I know, shameful, but hey, a girl’s gotta admit her shortcomings), my family had been through a health scare and as far as years go, 2013 wasn’t exactly a great one for me. I couldn’t let another year go by of being unhappy or waiting for things to happen in my life – I wanted to do what I wanted to do, and if the men came, then they did. If not, at least I would find the peace in myself that I so badly craved.
Ya know what? I did. And more than peace, I found a sense of content, a happiness and a joy in my life that I never had before. Dating was still dating – fun, annoying, hopeful and at times, ripe with butterflies – but I was a better person. And it all came from loving the good – and the bad – things about myself, and learning from a place of acceptance instead of putting myself down.
That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned in the three years of flying solo: there is so much power and beauty in self-love. Not everyone is going to agree with you and even those who love you most might not understand why you’re still single or why you can’t just find a nice guy (or girl) to settle down with, and at times, it can be hard to let those opinions go, but in 2015, I challenge you to do just that:
Love yourself. And focus on that love instead of searching for another love outside of it.
The best part about finding your confidence and saying kind things to yourself instead of continuously listing your shortcomings in your head (I know you do – we all do!) is that you become a better dater, naturally. You are more aware of yourself. You own that presence that is completely, utterly unique to you. You stop putting up with the drama that so many people can bring to your life. You believe you are more, and therefore, you find it. The quality of men or women who capture your attention changes, strengthens, and deepens.
But the most exciting part for me wasn’t that I met better guys or that my faith in love was rekindled when I started being kinder to myself – it was that my life really caught on fire. I traveled more, I moved to a nicer part of the city, I found a new job that challenged me and my day-to-day happiness skyrocketed.
I still haven’t met the right guy, and I’m not sure when I will. (I am only 26, so I know I have more than enough time.) But as I go into 2015, I’m keeping my focus on self-love. And sure, I’m dating. My heart is open to a great love, and I’m okay if it takes a while to find him. Because you know what? It’s taken me a long time to have the guts to say this, but…
…I’m worth the wait. He’s worth it – whoever he is. And you? You absolutely are too.