This blog is the full version from my contribution to Therese Schwenkler’s, The Unlost!
A number of months after ending a long-term relationship, I thought I was ready to start dating again. But before the words left my heart, came to my head and out of my mouth, my girlfriends were ready to share their hard-acquired dating advice:
”So, OKCupid is a free online dating site, you should try it and give sexting a chance,” said one friend.
“Also, there is this look you can give them, just like this…that shows that you want them.” I tried, but my contact fell out.
“When you meet a guy, just don’t talk about politics,” said another. (But wait, it’s election year and there is nothing hotter than talking about the proliferation of fiat currencies).
And finally, “After a break-up, when you want to feel new again, you should dye your hair.”
Upon realizing that sexting reminded me of an old college fling, forgoing snide remarks about Santorum, adding blonde highlights to my virgin hair, and buying new skinny jeans, I realized I had been getting advice not worth a penny and had actually uttered the phrase, “but I’m a bit scared of boys.” In fact, sitting next to a cute one made me cringe, going to my doctor had me sweating like nun in a brothel, and actually having to talk to one made paper look like it had a better personality. So after sprucing up the outside, I realized the inside was still a total mess. Retail therapy and facials were only going to cloud a problem that only wanted to shine brighter.
When living in New York, we blame the City for somehow corrupting all of these men and turning them into monkeys in suits. We complain about their growing egos, fueled by their high-powered careers and the fact that so many other women are ready, willing and able in every sense of the words. So how could the girl that wants a stable relationship ever have a chance? This City has, in fact, little to do with the quality of the men. Our issues with men instead come from the advice that women give each other! We’ve been raised thinking that a makeover is going to save our soul and we’ll get the guy of our dreams to finally like us (Thank you every movie of the late 90s). But the fact of the matter is, is that we give superficial advice while blaming men for their superficiality. We complain about how fake guys can be as we plop on makeup, glue on eyelashes, buy jelly cutlets to enhance our boobs (damnit, where did I put my pair?) and rouge our lips all to create a reality that maybe….well, fake. We see our exteriors as important, if not more so than our interiors, and we conform to someone else’s vision of beauty as we speak about empowerment and the new age of WOMAN.
But in terms of dating advice, I would like to tell my friends and admit that “WE DON’T KNOW SHIT!” My longest relationship started with a 3-hour conversation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Blonde highlights ARE NOT my color, YOU DO NOT KNOW WHO YOU ARE SEXTING, and you don’t have to fake a look for him to know you’re interested. Just be your gorgeous, incredible, spirited, intelligent, and worthy self.
And in order to be yourself, you must first learn to love yourself unconditionally, because if you don’t, no one else truly will. And if you don’t learn to love yourself, the most precious thing on the planet, how can you know what is means to truly love another?
Loving yourself is so much more than just declaring the words ‘I love me’ when you look in the mirror. It involves some words that can be pretty scary, such as defiance, risk, and discipline. Defiance is needed so you can disregard the unhealthy, toxic advice, norms and standards of society and finally accept that who you truly are is the new norm and standard for you. It takes defiance to disregard negative whispers that come into your mind and into your life and understand that the best advice comes from the person who knows you best, you! Risk is essential because some people may not understand or like that you are embracing all of your quirky, dorky, silly traits, while becoming proud of who you are. Risk also because when you start to love yourself you often realize that people around you don’t appreciate your beauty as they should and many times, these people have to be shown the door. Discipline is also important so you can do the things you need to every day so you can start living the meaningful and satisfying life that was meant for you. And when you become satisfied, if not fulfilled, by your life and what you do, only then can you be fully satisfied with someone standing next to you. And guess what? Do you know when you find exactly what you are looking for? Right at the time when you are too busy doing something else.
There are some less scary words associated with learning to love yourself, which need less explanation. Respect, (of yourself and others), kindness (to yourself and others), and understanding that “some days are diamonds and some days are stone” (props to John Denver for that one) and finding our truest self to love is a journey with ups and downs.
You will have your whole life to love someone, to meet the person that will sweep you off your feet. But you don’t have all of the time to start loving yourself because THAT requires strength, which only grows over time. AND when you finally meet him, you want to be strong enough and know love enough to be able to accept the freefall of love that he is going to give you.