This Valentine’s day I find myself single after my first long-term and serious relationship. I won’t say there isn’t a small part of me that misses what could have been, or that wouldn’t like someone I could share a candle lit dinner with and a long walk holding hands under moon light. But I can honestly say I am not as distraught as I have been at earlier Valentine’s Days in my life when I was single. I think honestly, it’s because over time I’ve learned how to love myself more. It can be a hard lesson to learn and usually people don’t learn it unless they are tested by emotional adversity in their relationships and have a few heart breaks. But I think this recently failed relationship really was affirmation for me that self-esteem and a sense of being whole in oneself is more important than placing all your self-worth and needs for validation on another person telling you that they love you.
There was a time in my life when I was less mature in my sexual experiences and dating experiences, that I was a love sick romantic. Every fiber of my being wanted a life long love with Mr. Right. I wouldn’t say that adversity has entirely killed my inner romantic. I will say, however, after a few heart breaks and a bit more life experience on the matter I am less attached to the need to be validated by it as a person. It’s a hard life lesson to learn, but you really do not need someone else to be happy. Often people that experience that overwhelming need for someone to say they love them, find themselves putting up with abusive and dysfunctional relationships just to hear the words “I love you.” Is hearing those words really worth sacrificing your sense of integrity and self-esteem? I learned a while ago that I would much rather be single and have a sense of peace in my life, then be in a relationship with someone that makes me lose my sense of self-esteem and value.
Heart break is never easy and taking the risk of loving someone opens you up to that risk. But as hard as it is to accept that experience really does become easier when you have a better sense of self-esteem. Some have criticized this kind of philosophy as a form of narcissism. However, there is a difference between a healthy sense of self-esteem and neurotic inflation of your ego that is toxic to yourself and others. It’s important to distinguish the two. A healthy sense of self-esteem contains an inner sense of peace with yourself, knowing that regardless of who comes and goes in your life, what people do and say, you know that you are okay and worth caring about. Another boy to cuddle at night does not define yourself worth and your sense of inner peace. You can find satisfaction in life simply by knowing you deserve to be happy and are whole and complete in yourself. You are one who does not need “your other half” in an external person.
I am not saying that the desire to fulfill sexual urges won’t exist, nor the desire to find romantic companionship will just disappear. But there is less attachment to that defining your value and worth. There is less need to be validated by someone else’s love. Human beings are social creatures and we will always have an innate need to have a relational connection to others, but how fulfilling are those connections when you don’t love yourself? Ideally, a healthy relationship would be people who are complete in and of themselves, yet complement each other in their individual completeness. As opposed to two people desperately needing each other to be “complete.”
Once I began to get comfortable that I didn’t need someone else to be okay, to live a happy life, to find fulfillment, moments like these got easier. I would still like to find a fulfilling and loving companionship with mr. right, the only difference now is that I am not as attached to out comes. I can pursue that desire without needing everything to work out perfectly. I can accept a break up due to incompatibility much easier and gracefully. I also can enjoy valentine’s day when I am single. One of the hardest lessons you ever have learn is how to love yourself enough not to be completely destroyed after a failed romance. Love yourself enough to know you are resilient enough to go on with life, to know life is not over, to know this is only a stepping stone of learning and growing to the next phase of life. Love is a risk every time…but you should never have to sacrifice your self-esteem and self-worth for it.