There was a particular season in my life when all I wanted was to have a man. My best friend and I would sit around and dream up our perfect man. Even with that checklist in mind, I dated men who weren’t up to par. I settled for things I shouldn’t have — like making “at home” dates a thing. I wasn’t respecting myself by putting boundaries in place on what I would or wouldn’t accept, and therefore men weren’t respecting me.
I can’t even blame them! Had I set firm boundaries for acceptable dating behavior (getting out of our homes, making it known that late-night texts weren’t wanted, establishing communication perimeters), things may have turned out differently.
There were long periods of dating disasters. Once I was at the movie theater box office and my date asked me if I wanted to pay for myself. I looked at him in shock and told him no. To which he replied, “I just figured I would ask.” After some time, it became clear to me that the common denominator between all these bad dates was me! Now that was a rude awakening, but let me tell you, it was so necessary.
When I finally realized that I wasn’t improving myself, taking care of myself or loving myself, I had the wake-up call that I would never attract the kind of man I really wanted. I started turning down dates. I had no desire to go to anyone’s “house” for dinner — I had my own house for that! I got myself into the gym. Working out allowed me to build up confidence in my own body. I read more books. Fortunately, I’ve always been a reader, but I started zeroing in on self-improvement books. One book in particular that hit was Fabulosity by Kimora Lee Simmons. And most importantly, I focused on living the kind of life I wanted.
Over time, I began to love my life and myself. I started to build a relationship with myself that was valuable, memorable and enjoyable. I could have fun all on my own! I no longer needed a relationship with someone else because I had the best relationship with myself. I took myself out on dates. I would get my hair and nails done, go to the movies, and drive around Los Angeles exploring.
I was in that state of bliss with myself for over a year when a crush entered my life. We worked together and I always thought he was cute, but we never spoke. One day, my co-worker had a Saturday shift with him. She ended up telling him what I’d told her: That I thought he was cute! He knew who I was but wouldn’t have approached me (he was shy). The next week, after he found out about my crush, he emailed me at work. From there, we connected and started to grow a friendship.
We went on dates and had fun together, but I made it very clear I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I was happy with my life exactly how it was. He respected that and agreed the fun we were having didn’t need any expectations. I continued to work out, read, better myself and work towards my goals. He did the same. Now, we were just doing those things in the company of each other.
Then, something interesting happened. We realized that we didn’t want to spend our time with anyone else (besides our individual selves, of course). On Fourth of July (corny, I know), we began our official relationship.
As we approach the 11-year anniversary of our relationship start date, I realize that loving myself and focusing on my wants allowed the right man to make his way to me. That’s not to say there haven’t been ups and downs in the meantime — trust me, there have been. But now I can say I’m on the same page with my partner and it’s so amazing.
Our relationship adds value to the joy I already have in my relationship with myself. If he were to leave my life, I’m still whole because I love myself. I’m soaking in all the goodness that comes from this union and moving forward every day with continuing to love and improve myself. The work doesn’t stop just because he came along.
I tell my single girlfriends all the time: focus on improving yourself and the person who aligns with that improved version of yourself will make their way to you. When you stop looking for something, you’re able to see clearly when the right thing comes along.
Here’s to loving yourself this and every Valentine’s season to come!