Originally sent on February 15, 2020
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and whether you love the romantic vibes or gag at the social media love declarations, there’s definitely a lot of attention on coupling. January has more of the focus on the self, and as we enter February we shift to an emphasis on our love lives. And for some of us, we are waiting with bated breath for the shower of affection from our significant others. Will they meet our expectations? Will I feel validated and appreciated? And will it be cute enough for Instagram?!
That was me for many years. As someone who has struggled with how to value herself for a majority of her life, I clung to the idea of having “another half” just like the movies- someone who would anticipate my every need, speak my love language fluently, and would love and appreciate every aspect of me.
I am 30, and have yet to meet this psychic puzzle piece meant to “complete me”. And I’m not saying I’m single. Far from it. Nearly 6 years in, my boyfriend and I have had our ups and downs (and ups and back down again). But the difference for me in how rocked I get with the downs has changed drastically in the past few years.
You see, with any of my relationships, I used to wait for that confirmation that I am worthy. That I am enough to be loved and valued for the rest of my life. Rather than determining that for myself, I put that on my prospective partners. When they didn’t wow me with the “perfect” date or gesture, I took it as feedback on how lovable I am. Or, I assumed it made that person the wrong person for me. Worse still, I viewed slights and hurts as appraisals of how desirable I was as a girlfriend. So not only did the pain hurt my feelings, but my self-esteem plummeted with it. In fact, some of my most significant struggles with my eating disorder came as a result of my analysis of these scenarios, figuring I wasn’t attractive enough. A lot of pressure on my boyfriends, right?
Here’s the thing about putting all of this on a partner. How can we expect them to speak a love language that we ourselves don’t even fully understand? A compulsive people-pleaser, it took until my mid twenties to start asking myself what made me feel cared for. It took me until my late twenties to appreciate that my worth wasn’t based on the actions of others, and honestly up until now to realize that I had to demonstrate my own self-love. Even if my partner was a mind-reader, I didn’t know enough about who I was to understand what made my heart skip a beat for them to get a clue. It’s cliche, but in order to get the most out of my relationship I had to love myself first.
Now there are plenty of prior Self-Care Saturday emails that can tell you about that journey, on top of the episodes coming up. In fact, on this Sunday’s episode I’m taking the opportunity to update my journey on treatment for my eating disorder, which goes far beyond how I felt about my body. You can find it on all of your favorite podcast apps and the site on Sunday at 6pm.
Last night, my boyfriend and I showed our love and appreciation by spending the night resting from a stressful week, rather than forcing ourselves to rally the energy of a romantic evening. We’re taking care of ourselves and each other by celebrating tonight instead. Plus, the crowds will be way better- as an empath, that is my love language for sure. If you don’t know what I mean by love languages, you should check out this week’s book club and find out! This book changed my views of love, towards my partner and myself.
This weekend, make sure that some of the loving feelings come from things you do for yourself. It’s the longest relationship we have.
Host of Watered Grass