Loving Yourself Before You Love Someone Else
If there’s anything a teenage girl wants growing up, it’s having that “official status” with an insanely cute guy.
Almost three years ago, being in a relationship was an experience I desperately wanted to check off my list. One thing I didn’t realize before getting into my first serious relationship was the importance of self-love. From that experience, I (painfully) learned valuable lessons about why loving yourself is necessary before allowing yourself to love someone else.
He could be an amazing person, but that doesn’t mean he’s amazing for you.
This is amazing advice I received from a close friend of mine (shoutout to my absolute best friend, Emily). He could be an all-around “great guy,” but that doesn’t mean he’s the best guy to be in a relationship with. My first long-term boyfriend is still one of the most incredible people I know, but we had drastically different ideas about some key components in our relationship. Until we broke up, I didn’t understand the difference between a great guy and a guy that’s great for me.
Forgive, but be careful with second chances.
I believe everyone deserves a second chance, but the biggest mistake I made in my relationship was giving never-ending “second chances.” I allowed my self-worth to take a back seat over my love for someone else, which meant getting hurt over and over again. I had to learn that even though I loved him deeply, I couldn’t continue to let my emotional health get squashed.
Relationships require a lot of communication.
You’ve heard it a million times — communication is key to any successful relationship. It’s especially important if you tend to overthink everything, like I do. If you ask any of my friends, they’ll tell you I stress about every little thing. Through my lens, a minor miscommunication is the end of the world. In my relationship, I wanted to talk out every problem, big or small, but my ex-boyfriend didn’t like having vulnerable conversations. I went without the answers I needed to feel secure, which created a cycle of pain and stress.
Don’t expect your partner to change for you.
I always wanted a boyfriend who wasn’t scared to show everyone he was in a committed relationship with me. Instead, I held on to a boy who would ignore me (even though it was often unintentional) when we were at school or a dance together. I would emphasize the pain this caused me, to which he’d completely understand and try to do better. After a week, it usually went back to the same routine, as if I had never even mentioned it. Because our communication styles were completely different, it was a struggle for both of us to compromise.
People leave — and that’s okay.
One of my greatest fears has always been that the important people in my life will leave without an explanation. That’s exactly what happened with my ex. He wasn’t just my boyfriend, but he was also my absolute best friend. Our breakup was abrupt and caught me completely off guard. The first few months apart were excruciating, but the deafening silence taught me a valuable lesson: everything happens for a reason. People have a purpose walking into your life, but that doesn’t always mean they’re permanent. Ultimately, it may take months to stop missing someone, but it gets better with time.
Instead of resenting a past relationship, reflect on your growth.
No one is perfect in a relationship. My ex made countless mistakes in our relationship, but so did I. Rather than trying to understand my ex’s perspective, I would focus on my own reasoning. Instead of placing the blame on your significant other, try to acknowledge the mistakes you made throughout the relationship and reflect on what you learned from them. Owning up to my imperfections and working to improve them has helped turn a heartbreaking experience into a positive one of self-growth.
Relationships are tough, especially when you’re too emotionally attached to end it. I had to learn that there was a fine line between being selfless and giving too much of myself. I ignored all of the red flags that my relationship wasn’t meant to be. In the end, I realized this was because I thought my relationship status defined me. I placed all of my value on a relationship when I’m so much more than that.
After a year and a half of being in a relationship, I was terrified to be by myself again. Through the silence, I realized I was okay with being on my own. I’ve slowly learned how to love myself and all of my imperfections. When love comes knocking on my door again, I know I’ll be ready.
Love yourself and…
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Elizabeth W.