Dating. I want to talk about it because I know there are young women out there struggling to find their worth. It is my goal to open up a little bit more even though it is uncomfortable because like you I am human.
I have been in relationships where I felt like I didn’t have a voice. I have been in relationships where I allowed someone to control things, confusing that control for love. I didn’t choose where we would go, how we would spend our time, I just always said yes.
I have gone on dates with men who think that women with higher education are too independent and intimidating. I spent time trying to understand how I could accommodate a man like this knowing my ambition is high. Should I not talk about school or work anymore? Do I go out of my way to give him more compliments and esteem? Should I change?
I have been on dates with men who continued to ignore boundaries, who demanded my time and energy but lacked any interest in commitment or reciprocation. I have been in relationship with someone who hated my natural hair and preferred it straight. I have been ignored, I have been blamed, I have been disregarded.
I learned that each person was a mirror trying to tell me to reach back out to the little girl who was afraid to look at her own reflection, who thought that sharing her feelings was weak, and standing up for herself meant she was being too difficult, so just keep apologizing even though you did nothing wrong.
I can’t even count the number of times I said sorry for things that were not my fault. I struggled to let go of even the wrong ones, always holding on when it was clear the feeling wasn’t mutual. Loss was hard for me, like it was when my parent’s divorced. I carried that with me for a long time.
With practice, I found my voice again. I used it in dating, work, school, family as many times as I could to ensure I practiced confidence, assertiveness and happiness with myself. I deserve to speak. I deserve to be heard and I deserve to be loved.
Don’t confuse a man’s loving social media post about you for love, don’t confuse the amount of money he is spending on you, the time he takes you around his family, the romantic dates and gifts as love. I did that for a long time. I felt special. I dressed up, I went out, I got some communication here and there. I ignored all the rest.
When I started asking hard questions, I realized it’s not about the things someone can do for you short term, but start thinking about what matters in the long run. Is this someone I can trust to work through hard times with me? Is this someone who accepts me for who I am? Does he respect me when I say no? Is he willing to compromise and set boundaries? Does he know how to act out love? Does he value me even when I am not around?
When I started to love myself more, break down old habits and beliefs I recognized that I had more power. I did not have to internalize someone else’s views of me. I ignored my intuition, I now honor that inner voice. That rejection was redirection to greater self love and greater confidence. I am becoming the best version of myself. I date differently. I attract love. I attract positive energy.
Be thankful for what did not work out. I am now able to welcome new, empowering and unconditional love. I am able to welcome a man who loves and respects me in the healthiest way possible. I am able to experience the love and support from someone who is with me for the long run. I did the work. It takes work. And you are worth it.