The best relationships start as an inside job. Learn how to love someone (you know, that future honey-pie) long before you meet.
“Learn to love yourself in absence of your lover” is a practice I came upon within the past year. In the past year, I’ve gone on a few dates, but after each experience I found that the most real, raw, lasting and important relationship was between me, myself and I. You know… that whole self-development thing where what you think will fill you from the outside-in isn’t satisfying… so at last you say, “Ok, I guess it’s me I’m involved with here and can enjoy the nuances of this self-acceptance dance.”
And… it’s so flippin’ true.
I really wanted to be in a relationship, and I really wanted the outside to feel great so that it would seep into my inside world and make everything glowy, gooey, and happy—like sunshine rays, toy poodles, and parades with glitter confetti. Mix in some dark chocolate and flowers and it’s a done deal. But… womp; my knight in shining armor didn’t show up exactly as I hoped (someone amazing did pop into my midst, but it wasn’t my *spark*), so instead of searching without, I turned into where true love of Self is the real deal.
I wasn’t pleased in total with my new commitment to myself to be in a hot, passionate love affair with Me, but let me say: when a woman finds her worth and hits her core… yeow! …she does not go back to craving crumbs (flings, trivial dates), but is able to relish in her own presence and appreciate her own beauty while she waits for the prize-winning (ahem, gluten-free) dessert that’s really satiating. Why go for fast food when you deserve the gourmet? And, the same can be said for all the gentlemen out there, too.
Learning to love ourselves in absence of our ideal lover or life partner is a consistent devotion to being present and compassionate in our daily walks with ourselves. It’s a moment-by-moment choice to witness that empty space and rejoice in our wholeness, gorgeousness, and presence. It doesn’t mean we sit at home reading self-help books with closed curtains and mousy slippers while chanting some mantra activating our rose quartz beads in front of our altars. It’s being okay with where we’re at in our journeys, who we are as people walking a daily path, and embracing all of our seeming flaws in these bodies which house our spirits. It’s a practice of celebrating what’s inherently good about ourselves.
I’d agree we do need the exposure to other parts of human life if we want continue to change and evolve. But by wholly allowing ourselves the grace and space and room to be who we are by cultivating a really honest inner dialogue with ourselves, we show up as better friends, lovers and partners for those who come into our path.
So, as said, it’s a daily journey, a practice of sorts to let ourselves be in the “in-between” space of the present and that day when he/she arrives into our circle to compliment our light and shadow parts, and most importantly, support our journeys. I think it can get squirrelly and weird and uncomfortable being with ourselves, giving ourselves what we so desire to be given by another. But trust me, I’ve been practicing for months to find my completion in the here and now. It takes time, some thought and insight, and a whole lotta patience to see you are the one you’ve been waiting for above anything else!
I’d like to share a few guideposts and practices that have laid the foundation for my “in-between” space, which I’ve developed in the past several months:
Celebrate what’s hot about YOU
Practice the kind of talk you would like to hear from a significant other. For me, it’s “Hey, I love you, you know that?” “I think you’re doing a fabulous job; just keep at it,” and “You are one gorgeous woman, Christine, and you’re inspiring”. Whatever it is your heart aches for from the outside, you can surely cultivate it first on the inside. Write it on post-it notes and place them on mirrors or places you frequent in your home, or replay it in your head until you hear and really feel it coming from you.
I’ve found this practice breaks my former default behavior of attempting to first go outside myself for nurturing, comforting, self-esteem or reassurance. I’d agree it’s so flattering to hear these things come from a man lips, but it’s been thrilling to pivot from wanting from the outside what I can cultivate instantly within. This makes my path feel far less alone.
Romance yourself, and know you are never alone.
Learning how to be intimate with yourself is priceless. I really think we each can be the best company we keep. (Wherever we go, there we are!). I see friends who leap into men’s arms because, deep inside, they feel left out and alone. When no one was around, I used to long for a great roll in the hay, Friday night cuddle, a partner to stroll along 16th Street, or strong arms to embrace me on a bad day.
So in the empty space, I learned to romance myself through treating myself to flowers that reflect my essence, going out to have a latte in the quiet corner of a café, or taking an all-day adventure into the mountains of Colorado. I set an intention to be in the here and now of “Romance for One”, independent of the partner who I knew was on his way. I practiced giving myself the feelings of what I wanted to feel on a great date and being in the presence of this person.
The cool thing is, I didn’t need to wait. I didn’t need to rely on that outside thing or that future date to find the love that lives in my now. I didn’t wait to do any of the things I wanted to do with someone else; I gifted myself these experiences and found solace in my own company. A quote I love is, “How long are you willing to prolong your Joy?” Our joy and fulfillment are not dependent upon another’s ability to provide it for us nor is it hanging out ahead of us at some future date. It is in the here and now and it’s a choice to turn it on for ourselves first.
Cultivate your inner DING.
As I like to call it, my “Inner Guru”—you know, that pulse or sense of knowing in you that says “Hell, yes!” or “Hell, no!” in light of which path to take or who to date. I used to seriously struggle with this because of the chaotic world we live in where there are countless options, colors and choices in front of me. In former relationships, I was in murky waters when it came to ‘Stop’ or ‘Go’. I didn’t know what I wanted, and it confused my partners.
I bring this point to light because the more I practiced honing in on my ability to know and consult my inner guidance, that ” inner DING”, I found a new, intuitive, and trustworthy way of living in the world… and knowing who to say “Yes” or “No” to in my re-emergence from the Self-Love Cocoon. At one time I envied the men I dated who had this “inner DING” thing down pat; and now that I’m a confident, tuned-in and more deeply self-aware individual, I feel I can better serve myself and my partners and friends in my relationships.
Become what you want your lover to be.
In other words, practice becoming within yourself what you want to attract to you. For example, I mostly know what I want in a man—the qualities, characteristics, values, etc. But, I’ve consistently had to come back to myself to see where I possess and nourish these traits and ideals within myself first.
With a man, a few things I want to experience are honesty, authenticity, generosity, and trust. Since I believe like attracts like, I thought to myself a few months back, “Do I currently hold these values exhibit these traits in my life right now in a similar light as my ideal partner?” Your answer reveals if you have some personal gardening to do. As one of my co-workers said recently, “Am I the person I would want to my ideal partner to meet and fall in love with right now?”
As you travel through the in-between space of the present moment and the day when your beloved arrives in your circle, my wish is for you to be with all of yourself—your shadows and highlights, your solo dinner dates and the spontaneous “just because” celebrations of your uniqueness, just because you feel like it. My wish is for you to find your own practices and tools that empower your ability to find Love within instead of relying on it without.
As Carrie Bradshaw (fictional HBO character and life mentor of mine) in Sex & the City says, “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.” Thank you, Ms. Bradshaw; I couldn’t agree more.
by Christine Slomski
Christine Slomski is a writer, creator, health and wellness practitioner, and believer in deliriously good things. A student of relationships and the power of human connection, Christine currently calls Denver, Colorado her home. Connect with her and all things relating to vulnerability and the Hero’s Journey at Christineslomski.com
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