View this post on Instagram
Almost 15 years ago, my ex-boyfriend took me out on Valentine’s Day.
To say that the date was lovely would be an understatement; it was perfect.
I literally walked on a carpet of roses when I got out of the car that led me straight to our reserved table at the restaurant. Fast forward to five months later, he dumped me out of the blue.
That breakup has forever changed my view of Valentine’s Day. I have slowly realized that love isn’t about things, sweet words, or sex. What is said will be forgotten, the chocolate boxes will become empty, and the roses will eventually wither and die.
One thing will stay, though, and I’ve learned the hard way that it will always be the best gift I can give my partner on Valentine’s Day—and every day.
It’s self-love, because the truth is I’ve never genuinely loved myself.
I spent the entirety of my 20s jumping in and out of relationships and loving people who never really loved me back. Was it their fault? Was it mine? Was it “maktub” as Paulo Coelho wrote in The Alchemist? Whatever it was, some of it was on me.
I never really knew how to give my partners some room to breathe. I would get closer and closer to my partner while slowly moving away from my own center. Sometimes I would be so absorbed in the other person that I lose sight of my path altogether. Consequently, I almost always lost my way back after breakups. My center was nowhere to be seen and my self-worth was buried six feet under.
I lost myself in many relationships, more times than I care to admit. Sometimes I wish I could hop into a time machine and go back in time, not to win the other person back, but to win my dignity back.
Am I sad? No. I’m thankful. I have learned that loving and prioritizing myself every single day is the best thing I can ever give my partner. Now, I’m aware that when I give up parts of myself, I’m also indirectly giving up lots of other things that are vital to the health and longevity of my relationship.
The takeaway is clear: Don’t lose yourself.
Don’t stop spending time with your friends or family. Don’t give up on an ambition, purpose, or dream. Don’t think that your happiness doesn’t matter or that your needs aren’t important. Know when to be together and know when to create space.
If you are willing to keep your partner happy, you need to be happy first.
Happy Valentine’s Day.