Over the past several years, I’ve been cheating on myself.
With wistful eyes glazed by the sugary lure of Kate Hudson rom-coms, I’ve lingered in halfhearted relationships. I’ve listened to men tell me they want me to keep my hair and nails done. I’ve lain on my back when I wanted to go to sleep or go home. I’ve tried to make it work, knowing I didn’t have anything more to offer a man who gambled with my love for too long. I’ve spent money, time, and energy on men I knew from the beginning were leeches ready to drain the lifeblood from my veins.
I won’t get any of it back. But while I’m still here, I have a chance to recommit to myself the way I would commit to a man.
If I were in a serious relationship, I would be faithful. I would listen to my man, try to meet his needs, encourage him, and spend time with him. As I learned to trust him, I would give him the benefit of the doubt before I listened to others. I would treat him respectfully and fairly. I would criticize him constructively and compliment him frequently.
But if I’m willing to do all of that for someone else, I must do that for myself, because I deserve my devotion first. I need me. Before I can have a meaningful relationship with anyone else, I need to make sure I’ve met my own needs. I must love and care for myself primarily, then spread that love to deserving others. Take it from flight attendants: You can’t be any good to someone else if you’re barely breathing.
In a world full of people who think they know you better than you do, who think it’s your job to spoil them, who try to confine and condemn and control and confuse you, it’s up to you to be faithful to yourself, to the person you know you truly are.
This Valentine’s Day–and every day–commit to you. Don’t cheat on yourself with the Mr. (and Ms.) Wrongs. Love you, respect you, listen to you, and make you a priority. Buy yourself flowers, candy, cards, moscato rose, whatever makes you smile. Write yourself a love note and mean every word. And when someone tries to jeopardize your relationship with yourself, give that person a stiff boot in the rear. Doing so doesn’t mean you’re bitter or cynical–it just means you know how valuable you are and you aren’t willing to settle.