Remember the old saying: “Before someone loves you, you must love yourself first.” For that reason, I try to love myself every single day. Believe me, it’s hard to get someone else to love you other than your parents and furry companions. And it’s not because I’m so unlovable. I’m just incredibly judgmental and critical of myself. Coupled with insanely selective standards, falling in love with the right person seems next to impossible. There are no magic love potions to make someone fall in love with you (if there were, they would outsell Viagra ) but we can control how we feel about ourselves. The hardest pill to swallow is that there will always be someone prettier, smarter, skinnier, funnier, and taller than you. But once you accept that fact, it gets easier to fall in love with yourself.
There are some nice benefits to dating yourself, too. Going to the movies and never having to share the popcorn. Long walks in the park or strolls down the street at your own pace without having to keep up with Mr. Speedy Gonzalez. No awkward lulls in conversations over meals. No more obligatory reach-ins for the check, no matter whose turn it really is to pay for the date. No need to wait for anyone to show up or find a plausible excuse to end the night. Figuring out what to wear is easy as pie when you can throw on some sweats and a t-shirt without makeup. You’re not a slave to your phone, agonizing about the next time you will hear that sweet ringtone of a text popping up on the screen.
And then there are some not-so-great things when you are single. Bursts of laughter without anyone there makes you look schizo. You open your own doors. Being in the presence of affectionate couples causes extreme nausea and envy. The look on the hostess’ face when you say “just one.” Constant nagging or concern from your mother and/or engaged friends that you are almost 30 and still single. Creating an online dating profile is as stressful as having to take the SATs again. Immense disappointment when that hot tamale doesn’t message you back. The gut-wrenching rejection you face when you think things are going well after the 3rd or 4th date but then you NEVER hear from him again without so little as an explanation or reason.
So what happens when you’ve mastered the art of being alone and self-love? Prince Charming isn’t suddenly going to show up at your doorstep with a bouquet of flowers and a marriage proposal. The reality is that you’ll probably have many stilted conversations, awkward dates, sloppy make-out sessions, and bad sex before you meet someone remotely relationship-worthy. Don’t get lost in the sappy romantic fallacies created by Hollywood movies and Nicolas Sparks novels. There’s no instant cosmic connection or love at first sight or staring-into-each-other’s souls. There may be some staring going on but not of the soul variety. The gritty truth is that true love takes time to develop, grow and flourish. It’s more like a slow churning crock pot than a 2-minute ramen cup of noodle. So to satisfy your appetite in the meantime, practice loving every part of yourself and improving on the things you don’t like.
Some days, I am impatient, depressed and frustrated about being single. I’m needy for attention and affection and yearn to be desired and understood. I miss that all over, out of body tingly sensation. I want to be stupid in love, the kind that warps your thinking and sense of logic so that nothing else matters except the two of you in blissful harmony. I am also sick of binge-watching Netflix by myself.
Then I remember you cannot rely on someone else to feel happy or whole. That must come from within. The ability to be alone without shattering into tiny pieces is an essential life tool. Don’t be afraid of introspection. Just because you are single now doesn’t mean you’ll end up as a crazy, deranged cat lady. Instead, you’ll learn to understand and accept yourself so that you’re fully able to share your life with others. You’ll realize how independent and strong you can be and how awesome you really are. You’ll know that you are beautiful, smart, kind and compassionate. Remind yourself of this often. Write it on a post-it, yell it out loud, record it on your phone. Self-love is the best kind: no one can take it away from you. EVER.
Besides, the longest relationship you have is the one with yourself so make the best of it.