Oliver asking “Please, sir, can I have some more?”

When Seeking Love, You Must Already Be In Love.

It’s key that you feel good about yourself before going online seeking a relationship or on any dates. In fact, it’s best if you love yourself before venturing to find a partner.

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The overused analogy of the mother on the airplane who puts the oxygen mask on herself first, then on her child, still stands. Both she and her child are at a disadvantage if she can’t breathe, so she must attend to her own need for oxygen first.

You must do the same in love and relationships. Or you’ll require ‘oxygen’, too, if you’re seeking love from a hungry, under-fed part of yourself. If so, you’ll make decisions from insecurity and neediness, rather than from a part of you who knows what she wants, and knows what’s best for you. You can unknowingly show up as a beggar in love, hoping someone else will make you feel loved or worthy. I imagine the picture of Oliver begging for food (see image) in the film of Charles Dicken’s book, Oliver Twist.

It’s starting from a disempowered place, seeking love outside of yourself. You may be completely unaware of it. That’s ok. When you do recognize it, that’s the first step toward changing it.

I have done it, been that. That’s why I understand it so well. I have unconsciously been that love-hungry beggar, feeling high when receiving love, and bereft when not getting it, as if my worth depended on outside love & attention. I imagine it’s akin to being a drug addict – I was definitely addicted to the highs, and surprisingly to the lows, too. In the last relationship, I was in like that, I finally saw the reality of it, from a bigger picture, aerial view. It was eye-opening and alarming to see that I had helped to co-create it, how I had hijacked myself. That was a massive awakening for me. Once you see it, you can’t be it. That’s true.

I was no longer it, yet still went on to get into one more shitty relationship. Wait, what? There’s no coasting with these revelations. I coasted into something initially easy that was unworthy of me. I was working on myself while seeing him. But, it became clear we weren’t a good fit emotionally. I saw that, and after a rupture of questionable behavior on his part, I left, never looking back.

Now I’m in a relationship I love, where I am 100% myself.

I used to be the woman who often looked back at past relationships with longing. Not anymore. She’s gone. I’m happier. Amazing coincidence? No.

If your worth is dependent on others and how they respond to you, that’s a good tip-off that you could build your self-love bank up. For ex., if you think you have a good connection online and on the phone before meeting a guy, then you feel good on the first date, too, but you never hear another peep from him, do you make that mean that there’s something wrong with you? Do you take it personally?

Anger or feeling awful is good feedback for you to observe your response to a fairly common situation these days (ghosting). I know sitting with your disappointment is challenging. But it doesn’t have to mean what you may make it mean. It is disappointing to have a first connection that feels good, only to find out later that you weren’t on the same page as you had felt, or there were other unknown factors to you.

Can you try seeing that he possibly didn’t see you two as a good fit? Or he’d connected with someone else more? He may have felt awkward or reticent to disappoint you, so disappeared instead of diplomatically saying, “you’re great, but I don’t think we are a good fit”?

Have you ever felt similarly about a man you weren’t into? Maybe you liked him but felt a mismatch, so you didn’t ghost him, but you definitely let him go quickly, cutting your losses?

When you can bounce back faster, you’re closer to finding someone who is more aligned with you. The self-love piece holds you and makes your life better in the process in all ways because you’re not waiting for someone else to deliver you to yourself – you are her already.

Loving yourself more than you love your potential partner, or existing partner, allows you to have balance with yourself that’s solid and steady.

You can have a “bad” day – say you have a fender bender, or you are having trouble bringing a work project to fruition, or your pet gets sick, etc., yet you can be temperate and calm throughout most of that, as a result of self-love because those events mean nothing about your value to yourself or in the world.

Or conversely, if you have a fabulous day, everything goes your way, you sign a new contract, your friends and family express how proud (or fill in the blank) they are of you, you stick to your exercise track, you help someone have amazing growth, you write a new poem or song – the same holds true if you can remain calm throughout that – those events don’t make you more lovable, just as the “bad” day events don’t make you less valuable or less lovable.

Whether things are perceived as positive or negative by you, you love yourself solidly – that is what I’m getting at. The goal is close to a steady state of having your own back.

And having that allows you to tune in on a deeper level on dates because you’re good with yourself, so you can easily tune in to this new guy and see who he is.

You attract what you believe, not what you desire. So if you believe “I attract men who are problematic,” you’ll attract that, and it’ll be reflected back to you. But, if you believe you’ve got your own back, you love yourself, bear in mind: like attracts like.

Badda bing, badda boom. If you love your life as it is, that brings you even more to love.

But, if you think, I’ll love my life when this or that happens, you’re out of alignment, you’re making your happiness dependent on something that hasn’t happened yet. That doesn’t work. Because whatever it is that’s hoped for, isn’t here and now, so your happiness is postponed to the future.

Here’s an example. Do you want to date a man who doesn’t like his life, but he will like it when and if something specific happens? No! That isn’t attractive or appealing.

If you feel you haven’t developed solid love for yourself, Pema Chodron’s book, “When Things Fall Apart,” is a helpful start. Take a look at Chapter 8, “Eight Worldly Dharmas.”

Or you can try beginning a simple practice of morning meditation to help ground you daily, directing you towards self-love. There are hundreds of guided meditation recordings available on YouTube if sitting for 15 minutes and focusing on your breath isn’t appealing.

A belief of mine is if you develop love within, you’re more valuable to yourself, and to the world, too. And you’re more available for finding love you feel aligned with. You’re set up for success.

Sure, there will be bumps along the road to maintaining that steady state. Losing a parent can be a major one, for example. That can be very depressing for quite a while, but it doesn’t have to affect your love for yourself. Loss can crack your heart open more than it was before and make you value what’s present right now, and be more present. It can remove all the static of daily life and take you to what’s essential.

Some, or most, women have been raised to believe any focus on self-love is self-centered and egotistical, to the point of being narcissistic. That in order to have love, you must be self-effacing and modest. The phrase, “don’t toot your own horn,” comes to mind. But, I ask you, are the women who diminish themselves and staying small, are they women you want to linger with?

Make yourself into a woman whose company you enjoy, who you love. Your life will be better for it, and in searching for a relationship, you’ll end up with a much better deal for yourself.