Ever felt so desperate for love and approval that you’d do anything to get them? I know that I’ve totally been there. They’re definitely not fond times that I like to remember. But it’s something that we have to talk about. Why? Because it leads to one of the most common relationship mistakes for natural givers.
My last year of high school was a doozy. I was lonely, insecure, and full of self loathing. All I wanted was to be loved. And I thought that finding love from someone else was going to fulfill that void for me.
So I made the biggest mistake of my life. I started online dating. I knew that I wasn’t doing what was best to me. But my emotional comprehension of the situation wasn’t as wholesome as my intellectual understanding. I didn’t feel like I could find a “real” relationship (as real as a 17 year old can have).
I constantly let guys hurt me just so I could have a glimpse of acceptance. But at the end of the day, I put myself into the same damaging cycle over and over again.
I accepted a lot of pain for a little love.
Have you ever done the same? Don’t make this same relationship mistake so many of have.
You Have So Much Love to Give
Over the years, I’ve seen my friends give so much of themselves in relationships. As natural givers, of course we find satisfaction and happiness in giving to our partners. But it’s easy to trap ourselves in the vicious cycle of accepting a little love for a lot of pain.
I truly understand the feeling of desperation—desperation to be loved and accepted. But you will never absolve this need until you believe that you are enough. The missing piece has to come from you and you alone.
I know it may not seem like it, but you can find a happy and healthy relationship if that’s what you seek in life. Even if it’s hard to imagine now, I want you to know that you are worthy of love (from yourself and others). And it’s not impossible to find genuine love.
You have so much love to give. Make sure the people receiving it deserve you.
But as much as we harp on romantic love as the cure all medicine for happiness, it seems like our understanding of love is construed. Love is not about self sacrifice, putting the other person before you, giving your entire self to that person, or letting them have complete control and power in the relationship.
You should not have to throw yourself on the fire to prove your love to anyone.
Rather, a healthy love is focused on the betterment of one another. You look out for one another’s well being and want each other to be your best selves. Yes, relationships are work. But putting work into the relationship should be gratifying enough that it doesn’t feel like “work.” Thus combining the conflicting statements “relationships are work” but “love should be easy.”
There are so many components that go into making a relationship “work.” It’s not as black and white as we like to think it is or even wish it could be. You need chemistry, timing, situational factors, and personal development all on your side.
And if there’s anything I’ve learned over making a “doomed from the beginning” relationship actually work, it’s that love is not enough.
Relationships Are Not About Love
I’ve been there for a few of my friends deciding on and working through a breakup. Time and time again, I hear them say “but I love him.” And my response to that is always the same.
Love is not enough.
Just because you love someone doesn’t mean that the relationship itself is good for you. And just because you love someone doesn’t mean that you should be with them.
It may sound heartless at first. But I want to you remember that you are the protagonist of your own story. The only person who’s happiness actually matters in this equation is your own. And sometimes we lose sight of that when we’re constantly trying to please others.
But I’m not just going to crush the illusion of love and leave you high and dry. Whether you’re already in a long-term relationship, just starting one, or single but open to love, these are three components that you should always have within yourself to take into any relationship.
ONE: CONFIDENCE IN YOURSELF
We attract the type of energy that we emit. If you’re a confident and joyous person, you will attract confident and joyous people into your life. This goes for friendships as well as romantic relationships.
But the same goes the other way. If you’re insecure, fearful, and self loathing, you’ll attract people with the same qualities (some of whom prey upon these qualities in others). Hence, the saying “you cannot love others until you love yourself.”
Now, I’m sure you know this and have heard it time and time again. But before you roll your eyes at me, I have another perspective that exemplifies that same principle.
One of my best friends was dating a guy who truly hated himself. He was frustrated with who he was and was utterly self destructive. As much as he loved my friend, he hated himself even more.
The man was on a sinking ship and he was determined to take anyone down with him. Even though he loved my friend and she loved him, he needed to work through his own insecurities before he could truly be in a healthy relationship. He was not only damaging himself, but hurting her too.
Yes, we all have insecurities and fears. I’m not saying that you have to be Beyoncé confident (although Beyoncé is human, too!). But when we enter into a relationship with extreme self loathing and destructive behavior, we not only hurt ourselves but the people around us. And as a natural giver, I know it would hurt you even more to cause pain to others.
Bottom Line: Going into a relationship, it’s vital to have a hefty amount of confidence within yourself that doesn’t rely on the other person to preserve yourself and the other person.
TWO: INDEPENDENCE & INDIVIDUALITY
There’s an episode of How I Met Your Mother where the long-term married couple Marshall and Lily become a “we.” They do absolutely everything together and talk about themselves as a “we” versus individual “I”s.
Now, this is a momentous moment in a relationship. Going by “we” acknowledges your joint interests and lives as one. And not saying to never use the term.
But in this episode of How I Met Your Mother, Marshall and his best friend Ted are supposed to go on a nostalgic road trip. But Marshall brings along Lily. They end up turning the road trip into a couple’s getaway with Ted riding along. At one point, the romantic bed and breakfast spa rep asks if Marshall and Lily would like a cornmeal body scrub.
“And then finally it happened. Marshall and Lily globbed into one big married glob.”
To which Marshall and Lily (in full blob form) proclaimed “we’d love a cornmeal body scrub!”
Ok, so goofy TV humor aside, even when you’re in a relationship, it’s important to have your own life. You should still have your own separate friendships, hobbies, career, and experiences that are separate from your couple life (you both should).
And it’s important to be with a partner who respects that and as one of their own. One who wants you to have your own life and be your own person. And pursues this for him/herself.
Bottom Line: Work the Venn Diagram. You each have your own distinct lives that can come together to create a beautiful overlap without completely consuming one another.
THREE: FOCUS ON BETTERMENT
Alright, so I want you to think of yourself as a delicious cake. Cake is amazing, beautiful, totally badass, and utterly delightful on its own (that’s quite a cake!). You can absolutely take on life as you and you alone.
A relationship is merely icing on the cake. It’s an addition to the cake, but the cake is still an incredible dessert on it’s own. (Aside, this is making me hungry!)
In a healthy relationship, the two of you want one another to be the best versions of yourselves you can be. You’re ready to go through life on your own, but being with that other person only makes it better. This partner supports and empowers you in ways that will make you more capable than if you went through this life alone.
It’s not about love. It’s about being your best self. In a healthy relationship, loving yourself first isn’t selfish. It’s empowering.
Bottom Line: Know that you are completely capable of living an incredible life as a single person. But if you find someone who empowers you to be more capable and happy, be with that person.
I know it’s hard to stay on the straight and narrow and keep yourself a priority. But you don’t have to go it alone! I’ve got a full community of other beautiful natural givers who want to encourage and support you.
If you’re looking for a place to give others and get some support yourself, come join my free Facebook Group: The Be Simply It Self Lovelies. I can’t wait to see you there!