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The Reality of Love

Another good start to a weekend. Wake up. Feed the dogs. Walk the dogs. Make breakfast. Curl up under a blanket with the dogs and watch whatever movie Netflix or Amazon suggests. Sounds good to me.

What does Amazon spit out at me this morning? But of course, a romantic comedy! Who doesn’t love a romcom?! So, I lazily watch said movie while flipping through Instagram and playing Sudoku on my cell. (Yes, I find it next to impossible to sit still for long periods of time without additional stimuli.) And then I hear the music start to get louder and swirl all around me as the lovers on screen finally get their shit together and fall into each other’s arms. Sigh…Now that’s what love is like in real life, right?!

I’m not saying that love is not dramatic or that we don’t magically hear our favourite song while kissing the man of our dreams in front of an audience of hopeful onlookers. I will admit that I once dated someone who every single time they kissed me I felt butterflies, even after years of knowing them. It can happen. I am saying that in my experience, the reality of love is a little less scripted. Seeing as Valentine’s Day is fast approaching (as is the Super Bowl people) I thought I’d chime in on my own perspective and thoughts on love.

Firstly, and I wish I had learned this earlier on in life, if you don’t love yourself, you will find it hard to genuinely love others. Cliché, I know, but it is still true. I did not grow up with a great self-esteem for most of my adolescent life. I had several friends, all whom I thought were amazing and talented and beautiful. They were for the most part, kind, and fun to be with and all around lovely. I was surrounded by these great people, but I still didn’t see any of the characteristics they possessed in myself. I always thought it was a gift just be in their presence, not even considering what I brought to the table.

Seeing as I grew up in a religious household, I was not allowed to date until I was 16 yrs old. For some reason I thought that would be hard as everyone I knew who weren’t of the same faith were already dating by 14 yrs old and to be honest I was a flirt. Sure, I had crushes on various guys, the cute dark haired, mysterious guy who dared to skateboard through the halls at school. Who doesn’t love a rebel?! LOL. But there was always that feeling in my gut and the back of my mind telling me I was not good enough. Who would want the average girl with the average…, well everything as a girlfriend when they could have flashy Nikki or Brie? (Random names and not in reference to anyone I know) Is it no wonder that I didn’t really start dating until my late teens?

The reality was that I had never been taught to recognize all that I already had to offer and in turn did not know how to accept love when it was given. I know that my parents did not have the greatest self-esteem either and do not blame them for my lack thereof. At some point in our lives, we must make the decision to take responsibility for our behaviours and our outcomes. If I could wish anything for the young boys and girls of this world, it would be that they are taught about mental health. That they are given tools to use in daily life such as, conflict management, mindful breathing, self-worth, and empathy. I really wish this was taught in every school curriculum, and not just once. Integrate it into the Health and Wellness taught every single year and every time you can.

Secondly, if you do not know what you want or need, how can you recognize it when it appears? In my limited experience, love does not just happen. It does happen a lot easier when you know yourself well enough to know what you can and cannot offer or put up with. I’m not saying that anyone, including myself is perfect. I am saying that you must know yourself enough to have a few things that are definite in your life. For example: I know that I am not okay committing to someone who does not believe in monogamy. For me, that is a must. For some people that is too binding, and they feel it is a constraint. That is their truth. I also believe in marriage. I know many people in my life have expressed that they don’t need a piece of paper to prove their commitment. I agree, but I also believe marriage is far more than a piece of paper. Call me silly, but that is my truth. (And perhaps why I have never been married?!) LOL

Thirdly, you got to put yourself out there. No, I do not mean start posting nudes of yourself in the hopes of finding Mr. or Ms. Right. Do you really want the person who likes you based solely on the size of your chest?! I mean, be open to the possibility that there is love all around us. It may not look like we imagined or what movies tell us, but most people do not look like Brad Pitt either! The reality of love looks different for everyone. Some people place a lot of weight on their partners appearance and do not care if they can have a conversation with them after a long day. Some will allow themselves to fall in love with someone who has money in the bank and owns their own home.

I personally do not care what you do for a living, as long as you enjoy it. Your bank account is your business, but please make sure you don’t forget your wallet all the time…that is a bit suspect.  I can buy my own meal, drinks, clothes, car and whatever else I need. What I want is that someone who doesn’t haveto take care of me but wants too sometimes. I know for a fact that it is a lot easier to meet new people if you allow yourself to be open to it and not so focused on the so called “perfect” guy or gal. Find that person who is happy to go to bed beside you, talk about their day and wants to play a game of Family Feud on the iPad before falling asleep. Or, I am sure you can sort other ways to pass the time. :)

In my late 20’s I was single for a time and was struggling with not meeting guys that I “clicked” with. They would be nice and handsome but had zero interests or opinions. It drove me nuts! I remember my baby brother, Jared was visiting from Toronto, and I was expressing my frustration on how I would go on these dates, but no connections were being made. He laughed a bit at my silly stories and then he said “Have you considered looking at the men who you have not really noticed before? Perhaps you have someone in your close circle now who you have overlooked.”

Sound advice. And I took it to heart. I did look around at the men in my life who I was already friends with (The single ones of course!) and realized that I had some great guys in my life. Now, I did not end up dating anyone of my friend group, but in speaking with the guys in my life I learned a lot about why they chose to be my friend. What attributes they saw in me and could see someone wanting in a romantic partner. I often forget that men are not as complicated as we make them out to be at times. Most guys don’t analyse why they are friends with you, they just know.

Fourth, give yourself a break. What I mean is, everyone deserves rest. To be able to step back and re-centre. To take the time they need to be whole and sometimes that means alone time. Think about how much time you spend with your partners when you are in a relationship. At first, it feels like you are joined at the hip. It’s fabulous and amazing and all that you have hoped for. As time goes on and you feel that comfort level and trust has been built, you start to ease off a bit and this is the perfect time to enjoy being with someone and not having to be with them all the time. I’m not saying break-up. I’m saying, make sure to keep in mind that separation is sometimes needed too. It’s hard to get a real handle on what is going on in our lives, romantically or not if we do not take the time to reflect on it. And let’s be honest, isn’t it so nice when you see that person again?! Whether it has been an hour, a day, or a week, doesn’t it feel so incredible to be seen?

Finally, be okay with being alone. Maybe that should be the first thing… If you are single, it does not mean you are not loved. If you are in a relationship, it does not necessarily mean you are seen or understood. Be okay with who you are and know what you are bringing to the table. If you need to make a list. Do it. I had a roommate once who was an older single woman. I remember expressing my frustration to her one night because I wanted to see a movie in the theatres, but none of my friends could go with me. She told me to stop wasting my time and just go. Invite people to join you, but if they can’t or won’t, don’t waste your time trying to change their minds. Just go out and see the movie. Take yourself out for dinner. I know, it sounds a little bit strange. It surely takes me out of my comfort zone, but I also make myself do it.

It’s actually a great way to people watch, although I do enjoy a humorous commentary between myself and a friend while people watching as well. When I go out alone, I like to take a book with me and/or my notebook to write. Last time I went out alone, I went to a small rooftop patio for a drink and to watch a game. I just sat alone, writing in my journal, making funny faces at the little boy through the partition in front of me and just enjoying the moment. When the 19-something waitress came back around, she said “I am so jealous. I never think to go out alone and just read a book or have a drink. How do you do it?” It laughed a bit and told her that I just do. I needed to get out of the house. I wanted a Bellini and some noise, so I just went out. If someone wants to join me, great! If they can’t or won’t, perhaps next time.

It takes practice and fundamentally, it takes being okay with yourself. Alone does not mean unloved. Alone can be a choice you make for yourself to gain perspective or just because it is.

This Valentine’s Day and every day we should be celebrating love as we understand it to be. With a lover. With a friend. With your furry baby. However, and with whomever you spend your days, just keep in mind that the reality of love is what you make it. And you are loved.

Much Love.

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