From the time I was a little girl, my philosophy for caring about others has been incredibly simple, but not at all easy: Love hard.
I was constantly seeking out opportunities to take care of people. I didn't even have to be romantically linked to others to feel obligated to turn myself inside out for them.
Whether you're in a relationship or not, whether you have a million friends or just a close couple, here are 8 love vows to make and take right now for the most important person you have to take care of: yourself.
1. I promise to allow myself to be imperfect.
There's a shoe for every foot. A glove for every hand. You, right now, are the perfect kind of imperfect for someone.
It's one thing to work on strengthening weaknesses and striving for self-growth. It's another thing to resent yourself for who you naturally are, putting on an act for yourself and those around you. The right people will love the you that YOU love, and naturally are.
By trying to be anything else, you're robbing the right people of the opportunity to find and embrace you.
2. I promise to make my well-being my responsibility.
Do not try to find someone to fix, save or sustain you. You shouldn't want to be a project. You want to be a partner, a friend, a lover. Ultimately, we are all our own responsibility.
It's easy to feel like you can "take it easy" on taking care of yourself when you find someone who's willing and able to take care of you, but having someone take care of you will never feel as good (or be as reliable) as when you make it a priority to take care of yourself.
3. I promise to fight fair.
Take a moment to self-reflect and de-personalize heated interactions. It can shrink seemingly-big issues back down to a more reasonable size.
4. I promise to be clear about who I am.
Our differences make us stronger and our relationship more robust than if you're a "yes gal" and approve anything, regardless of your true feelings. By saying no sometimes you can open other people up to new ideas and possibilities, potentially expanding their horizons. Plus, you don't have to be thoroughly miserable faking your way through a life that's not your own.
5. I promise to commit to my happiness, no matter what.
All relationships, romantic or otherwise, take effort and time to work. But it's amazing how many of us stay in chronically unhappy situations because it's what we know or what someone else wants.
Promise yourself that you deserve to be happy every day. Not all day, every day, but you deserve to spend the majority of your time really flipping happy with your life and the people in it. If you find that you're not, don't be afraid to redefine circumstances or restart.
6. I promise to be the kind of person I'd like my partner to be.
Growing up, my parents told me to marry my best friend. If you want a partner who oozes warmth, is a passionate dream-chaser and loyal to a fault, you need to try to be that person yourself, or be whatever your personal equivalent of that is. If you want extraordinary, be extraordinary.
7. I promise to love as thoroughly as I'd like.
Love hard. The world doesn't need more tempered, lukewarm, emotionless going-through-the-motions kind of love. It DOES need fireworks, edge-of-your-seat, Hollywood-love-story-caliber connections.
Not that kind of person? Love on whatever level is comfortable for you, but don't let the world, your friends or society tell you that you ever need to tone down an emotion.
8. I promise I will be OK.
This is the most important one, and the one you'll most likely have to repeat.
Friends, lovers and even family will come and go throughout your life. That's OK. Let them go. If you don't feel strong enough yet on your own, you will learn to be. We're all works in progress and at different times in our lives, different people and situations fit us better than during others.
Love is precious and something to hold on to, but if you can't, take heart: All the love and "OK-ness" you need is inside of you and you will survive.