It’s been just over two years since my marriage ended. It was a tough time, I’m not going to lie. Even when you end a relationship amicably, you’re still left with all these feelings of what if and why. It’s easy to want to rush into another relationship, partly because you’re not used to being alone. But how can you love someone else, when you haven’t started learning to love yourself?
Dating won’t fix you
Not everyone who comes out of a relationship will need to work on themselves. But after being with my ex for 12 years, from a young age, I’d lost myself. I’d never been single as and adult, I’d never lived on my own and I hated every second of it. I threw myself in to dating, hoping that it would find someone that I could put all this extra nervous energy into.
Date after date things weren’t clicking, and I found myself trying to ignore things that bothered me about the the men that I was dating in the hopes that something would come of it. I was left disappointed, and in one case really hurt by what I’d allowed myself to turn a blind eye to. I realised I needed to focus on myself.
Be kind to yourself
It’s easy when things aren’t going the way you had hoped or a relationship comes to an end, to look at yourself and fixate on the negatives. I know I’m guilty of this myself. The more you think about it, the more examples you find in your life to confirm this negative narrative. Stop it. This isn’t going to help you. Instead, when you feel your mind drifting down this road, think about the things you are thankful for, or things that you have achieved. Talk to your friends and ask them how they would describe you. Sometimes it can be a real eye opener to hear how those close to you see you. It really helped me see just how toxic my own thoughts about myself were. How would any app match me happy when I had such negative feelings about myself?
Learning to love yourself
There is no point putting yourself out there when you don’t love yourself. You don’t know your value and you don’t know what you deserve from a partner. It can lead to people settling for something that could cause more pain, rather than actually finding the right person.
Frustratingly, there is no guide to self love, no checklist of steps and no easy road to happiness. Read the self help books – take from them what resinates, forget what doesn’t. Practice self-care, but remember looking good on the outside is not the same as feeling good inside. Meditate or don’t, you need to find what works for you.
Rediscover who you are
Coming out of a long relationship, from my early 20s, I’d been part of a couple for so long, that our dreams, likes and wants had become one. I realised that I didn’t know myself anymore. What did I want from my new life? What do I like to do? What did I want to build for myself? These are all still questions I’m trying to answer, but I learn more about what I want every day. I’m trying new things, taking on new hobbies and doing things for myself.
Learning to love yourself isn’t easy and it isn’t quick. It’s an on going process that helps you learn about yourself, what you deserve, what you’re willing to accept in your life. It allows you to identify toxic traits in yourself to work on, an even identify toxic people or behaviours in those around you that you can address too.
Once you feel like you’re in a place to recognise what you want and what you won’t accept from a future partner, then you’re prepared for the free dating sites.Love Lilla xx