If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I recently started dating after a whopping two years on the shelf. It’s been really interesting to see how this latest change in my personal life has impacted on my self love so, of course, I’m writing about it!
Spending the last year working on my relationship with myself has been an incredibly educational experience. I’ve learned so much about myself that I feel I know who I am for the first time. Being single has helped me achieve this no end. Focusing solely on my own feelings about myself has allowed me to gain and maintain a level of clarity that I don’t think would have been possible otherwise.
However, I don’t particularly want to die alone. So a few months ago, confident that I had reached a level of self love that would withstand the introduction of someone new to my life, I took myself off the shelf and back into the dating game.
Almost immediately I met someone I liked. I was extremely attracted to him physically, but it was his open minded, natural inination to critical thinking that really hooked me. He understood body positivity, and self love, and we talked at length about fat shaming and diet culture. I thought I’d hit the jackpot. We started seeing each other and after just a couple of weeks I was surprised, if a little uncomfortable, with just how quickly I was developing real feelings for him.
Unfortunately this seemed to throw light on some of the issues that I’m still grappling with in relation to self love. In particular, it highlighted to me, maybe for the first time, how toxic my relationships with men have been in the past, and how much I relied on men for my own validation. All of a sudden I was seeing a side of myself I haven’t seen before, and it wasn’t pleasant.
This got me thinking… Why am I so eager to attach my self worth to this perfectly lovely, but relatively insignificant, man who really doesn’t know me at all? What the hell is that about? Aren’t I stronger than that? Haven’t I come too far for such juvenile bullshit? Or am I still the same girl I once was, searching desperately for validation from men?
I started to look more closely at my pervious relationships, and was struck by how many of them, all of them to be exact, were based on a struggle to hold on to a man who wasn’t even remotely good for me. All of my exes, no exceptions, have been very nice guys but totally and utterly unsuited to me in terms of compatibility. And yet my memories of these relationships and breakups are centred around a failure on my part to hold on to them. What the actual fuck? Why have I spent the last ten years of my life trying to find and keep unhappy relationships? Is the alternative (ie. being single) so unthinkable that I’d rather be unhappy? Seriously… What the actual fuck?
Anyway to make a long story short, I ended the thing with the lovely open minded guy. It became clear to me quite quickly that even though I did really like him, it wasn’t going to work out and was just going to become messier and less pleasant as time went on. I decided to call it a day before feelings were hurt and remember my month with him fondly. How very mature!
I’m not putting myself back on the shelf. I’ve rediscovered the joy of sex (don’t be such a prude!! women can talk about sex too you know!) and I’m not willing to go without for another two years. But I have recognised that I’ve got some work to do in relation to the role that romance plays in my life and my selg love, and how I can cultivate a healthier balance between the two in future.
If you happen to know how to do this, please let me know!