In Beautiful You, on Day 90, I suggest that readers, if they aren’t in a thriving relationship, stop dating for a significant period of time, maybe even a year. The challenge comes from one I gave myself in my mid-twenties after a break-up that came because my boyfriend and I were a distance from each other, each had signficant schooling ahead of us, and didn’t know when we’d be back in the same state. We loved each other dearly, I still think, but we just couldn’t bridge the distance. Not long after that break-up, I thought about dating again but something stopped me.
In Beautiful You, I write… (Dating again) seemed an easy way to get rid of the wound my heart had suffered, a benign way to self-medicate the pain of lost love. But I knew that dating again would be the easy way out of grieving the loss and, even more importantly, an avoidance of getting to know who I was becoming at that time in my life. Instead, I decided to do something really different. I decided that I would not date seriously for a year. When I was asked out, I either said “no” or told the person right from the start that if he was looking for someone to go to a restaurant with that one time, I was the girl. If he was looking for a possible relationship, I wasn’t. That year helped me really get to know myself and understand what it was I could provide for myself and what I really wanted in a relationship; it showed me that I would be just fine.
Long before Beautiful You was conceived, a younger friend wrote me to tell me she was on the roller coaster that is a bad relationship that you know you should get out of but just can’t. The other day, I was cleaning out my sent items, and I found my response to her from four years ago. I thought I’d share it today because it’s a good reminder to all of us of how loving ourselves first, getting right with ourselves, is ultimately the best way to start and maintain any relationship with someone else:
Are you off the roller coaster? Get off. Get off. Get off. If we take this metaphor further, you are scared that there will never be another thrill and so getting off is scary. But, seriously, is the thrill of the roller coaster worth those god awful “Oh crap” moments on it? They are really not.
You are scared to be alone. But really, is this guy, this relationship what you want? I know it is not. I know that what you are thinking is that this guy with a different sort of relationship is what you want. But that’s not possible right now—not for where you are and not for where he is. You are craving him. You want him. But you don’t need him.
A friend’s father once said, “don’t look for someone you can live with. There will be hundreds of men in your life with whom you can figure out some way to tolerate their flaws enough to live with them in your life (he meant this metaphorically). Look for the guy that you can’t live without. Use that as your standard, and you’ll get it right.” Women too often try to be everything to every man (or woman) who expresses interest because we want to be appealing, compelling, chosen. From now on, up your standards, and you do the choosing. But the very first choice you should make is you.
Choose you. Love you. Fight for you.
I once made a rule that I wouldn’t date for at least a year. It was the most brilliant thing I ever did. I came out so certain and clear after that year. Had I not taken that year, I am not sure that I could have developed the clarity that I did.
You are young and beautiful with a whole life before you. Decide that you are dating yourself right now and treat yourself with the greatest of dignity and respect. When you have proven to be the best possible date to you, and that will take a while, then you know that you are ready to date someone else. But, then, don’t even look. Let it happen. When we go out looking, we are often willing to settle and overlook stuff we know we shouldn’t.
Have faith. Have clarity. And be strong. You are going to be more than okay.
For whatever reason, I felt compelled to share that here today. Maybe there’s someone out there who needed to hear just this, maybe not. No mater what, all of us need to hear: Choose you. Love you. Fight for you. Have faith. Have clarity. And be strong. You are going to be more than okay.