A few years ago, I was dating a much younger man who, for a plethora of reasons, I shouldn’t have been dating. I felt insecure about my age and finding someone who would love me just as I was. My boyfriend was young and careless, partied entirely too much and eventually cheated on me.
After a lot (and I mean, a lot!) of meditation, journaling, and crying to my girlfriends, I realized that I could be at peace by accepting who he was and his choices, I could finally accept my responsibility for our relationship and for bringing him into my life. I decided to accept him for where he was in his life, and most importantly, to love myself. I let go of the weight of trying to fix him or wait for him to reach his potential and I felt hugely, immensely liberated.
When I began to love myself more and be more honest with myself, I made better choices. Since I knew I couldn’t change him and he couldn’t give me what I needed, with love and self-respect, I left.
If you too, would like to let go of your need to change your partner or to finding yourself clinging to things that aren’t working, here are five steps to get you closer to self-love and self-awareness.
1. Accept your role in creating the situation.
This person you’re dating? They probably didn’t bang on your front door, insisting that you begin a romantic relationship with them. It is doubtful that you're being held against your will in this relationship. At some point, you chose to date someone who, for whatever reason, now isn’t meeting your needs. You were actively involved in the decision to be in this relationship.
2. Accept the person for who they are and where they are.
My 23-year-old self is (thankfully!) very, very different from my 37-year-old self. In fact, I imagine my former boyfriends would be quite surprised at how I turned out. The same goes for everyone. We change as we move through life. You will be happier if you accept this person for who they are now and what they're capable of at this point in time, without judgment or projecting your ideals onto them.
3. Know on deep level that the only person you can change is yourself.
You’ve probably heard this a million times and maybe you’ve recited it over coffee to a few friends. But saying it and really down-to-the-marrow-of-your-bones knowing it are different.
You can’t change the fact that she’s not ready to settle down, that he has a lot of growing up to do, or that she’s constantly running late. You can, however, change how you react to those things and whether those people are allowed into your life.
4. Honor your own dreams and celebrate what you've accomplished.
Focus on your inner world: what you love about yourself, what is true for you, and where you want your path to lead. Instead of worrying about his financial stability, think about how you’re going to earn enough money to buy a little cottage in the woods. Or, stop focusing on what she does (or doesn’t) love about you and focus on what you love about you.
5. Take steps (big or small) toward creating the life that you want and deserve every day.
Building the life you want (filled with the right people) is a daily practice of taking step after tiny, unglamorous step. Big things start with small actions and those action always involve us and very rarely involve people who can’t meet our needs.
With love and respect, say goodbye to the people who aren’t right for you right now, and turn your attention to something worthwhile: creating a life that thrills you.