One thing neither of us has really considered is a love for ourselves.
For the better part of this summer, I’ve been dating myself. I know that sounds terribly cliché, but hear me out.
I had my first boyfriend when I was 12 years old, and while all we did was hold hands and see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with all the other neighborhood kids, we were still “dating.” Essentially I've been in and out of relationships since then, a few months of gaps in between, but no substantial time on my own.
Each one of those relationships taught me something different, but the greatest lesson I’ve gotten—though it’s something I’ve only recently realized—is that I need to be a person unto myself, single or not.
I have gone through points where, sans boyfriend, I have felt like less than a whole person. Because I had poured so much of myself into the relationship, when it ended I was left hollow-feeling—a shell of myself. Among the many lessons I’ve picked up over the years, I’ve learned that my greatest flaw is perhaps that I am willing to sacrifice a great deal of myself, my hopes, and my wishes, for someone else.
Today, July 22, 2015, I am the happiest I’ve been in as long as I can remember. And it’s because for the first time since I was 12, I am wholly a person—all me. Prior to this, I know that parts of who I was were pretend, because I was trying so hard to be more of what someone else wanted than what I wanted.
A lot of my inability to be a singularly happy person came, I think, from being too young to recognize unhealthy decisions and sacrifices. I have no regrets about my dating past, because those lessons are things I can carry with me through life, things I can share with my friends, and things that will make me better in future relationships.
I am so grateful I have nearly 12 years of experiences—some beautiful, messy, ridiculous... or all three—and even more so that I can say I have loved and been loved.
Dating myself has been by far the most eye-opening of them all. I have learned my likes, dislikes, and finally embraced some of my flaws. As for the things I don’t like, I am changing them—but this time it is for me instead of someone else.
Today, I know the person whose love matters most is the person I have been neglecting all these years—me. While I'll never lose want for that over-the-moon, novel-worthy kind of love, for now I take great solace in knowing I can make my own happiness.