How many times have we all heard, “Love yourself first, then you’ll find the one”?
We’re told to do the hard, inner work of becoming the absolute best version of ourselves before we can find the person we’re meant to be with, because it’s not until then that we’re truly ready. And that makes perfect sense.
I wholeheartedly believed this to the core of my being. After failed attempts at relationships, I became totally dedicated to being single and working on me—dating myself and really figuring myself out. I took the act of falling in love with myself very seriously.
For two and a half years.
This time included everything from a trip to India to get more in touch with my inner yogini, to going back to school for nutrition to try something completely different, all the way to selling everything I owned to walk away from everything I knew, in order to travel and truly dig into the essence of who I am. It also involved dating an array of men (mostly boys) who taught me so much about what I want and, more importantly, what I don’t want.
What I noticed over that time was that I became so confident in myself, so incredibly solid in who I am as a woman, that my standards sometimes seemed unrealistically high. I was attracting the most amazing friends and opportunities. I was in complete control of when, and if, I interacted with people any given day depending on what I was feeling. But I was so set in my ways, and very much okay with those ways, that when guys (really great guys) tried to win me over and make their way into my life, I wasn’t having any of it.
Because I loved myself so damn much.
I didn’t want to give up my solo trips to the farmer’s markets on Sundays, followed by cooking with my best friend in the afternoon that usually led to us staying up late drinking tea. I didn’t want to have to put my book down and entertain another human when I wasn’t in the mood. I most certainly didn’t want to give up independence, my do-what-I-want-when-I-want attitude. Nights of “Dateline” and “Big Bang Theory” with my mom and a glass of wine became one version of date night.
We don’t think and act this way because we’re selfish. We feel like this because we’ve spent so much time building a very strong and powerful relationship with ourselves. We value our time and energy.
But what we may not realize in this time of self love is that one day someone is going to come along that we actually want to invite in and keep in our lives. We want to share our time and love with them.
And this is where it gets a little more difficult, because now we’re meant to compromise and learn to make situations work with this other person. And quite often, because our vibe attracts certain people, we’re with someone who has spent just as much time learning to love themselves as we have. Now you have these two very different, strong, confident, independent people coming together. We know we want this to work because this person is exactly the reason we’ve spent so much time learning to love ourselves in the first place—so that the right person could find us at the right time.
So how do we navigate this?
We have mini breakdowns along the way, because we are absolutely going to butt heads from time to time. Staying patient during these moments is difficult because often thoughts like, “Well, that’s just how I work,” or, “I’ve been like this for years” come up, but we have to remember that things change. Our habits change, our perspectives change, and what is important to us changes. This person has become very important to us, so there will be things that you have to meet halfway on, and vice versa.
Communication is absolutely key.
We have to be strong enough to be vulnerable and raw with this person and ourselves. Those thoughts I just mentioned, they come from somewhere. Typically, when we say, “This is just how I work,” it’s because something in the past has changed our way of thinking to adapt and protect ourselves. We need to get real with our partners on those reasons.
For example, “When you say _____, it makes me feel _____, because that is what I grew up hearing, and it triggers something for me.” That conversation is going to be so much easier than the blow up it’ll cause if you suppress that emotion until you’ve heard it one too many times.
We also accept that these people who we have decided to start a relationship with are our mirrors. They reflect not only what we love about ourselves, but also the areas we want to work on. They highlight where we’re still growing and sometimes this can be annoying, overwhelming, or frustrating, but we need to learn to honour this. It’s pretty special that another human can show you the depths of your soul and the inner workings of it by holding up the mirror of their eyes.
The other thing we need to consider is that we are not the only ones who have been through a battlefield to get to where we are. We all have our reasons for taking the path of solitude in order to learn to love ourselves more deeply. Our partners have been there, and they understand more than anyone how hard it is to give up our ways and habits in order to invite someone else in. Just remember that when you say no to one thing, you’re saying yes to another. If you’re saying no to your solo trip to the farmer’s market one Sunday, you may just be saying yes to the best day you and your partner have had yet that leads to a whole new tradition for you.
Lastly, we don’t give up our independence or our freedom, because that is probably one of the main reasons they fell in love with us in the first place. We stay strong and continue to do the things our souls need in order to recharge; this time we’re just a little more vocal about letting them know that we need this time. We continue to have our own lives and friends, while staying open to and accepting of their world as well.
It’s okay to have moments of missing your “freedom.” We all think sometimes that things were easier when we were single, easier when all we answered to was ourselves. That doesn’t make us a bad partner. I’d argue that it makes us a great partner, because we are not losing ourselves in the relationship. We are continuing to stay true to ourselves and what we love.
Continue to have your solo time, so that you can show up fully for your partner when you are together, rather than resenting the time and wishing you were doing something else. We notice that these feelings and thoughts are fleeting, and that’s perfectly fine if we remember the reasons we’re in the relationship and why we choose them, for better or worse. We remind ourselves of every single thing we love about this person and we celebrate them and thank them for standing by us.
We never stop loving ourselves fiercely. We never stop putting ourselves first, because we can’t truly show up for others if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. We continue to discover and grow within, always evolving and flowing. Now we just have someone incredible to share it all with.
Author: Amanda Hanna
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis