What Other People See In You Is What You Deny in Yourself
“You act like there is something wrong with you, when all I see is strength. Your challenges and experiences have shaped you into who you are, which is an incredibly strong, capable woman.”
These words rang in my ears for days.
I have always felt an inherent sense of damage, of brokenness. Ever since I started dating around age 14, I looked for men who could ‘fix’ me. I needed someone to tell me I was beautiful, because I felt ugly. I needed someone to tell me they loved me, because I felt unloved and hated myself. I needed someone to accept me, because I always felt like a misfit.
This search has led me into many a dark corridor; I’ve dated men who have used me for sex, money, ego, others who have cut me down, and many who just weren’t that into me. Even my good relationships have been mediocre at best, in the grand scheme of consolidation.
After my last relationship ended (about a year ago), I made a conscious decision to change my approach to dating. That experience was a very valuable one, but the main takeaway I got from the relationship was that I was sacrificing myself in order to be loved by someone else. I shouldn’t have to compromise my own needs in order to be in a relationship and I intentionally decided that I wouldn’t anymore.
In this quest, over countless first dates, drinks, dinners, and the occasional slumber party, I’ve seen myself change, yes, but still operating in a paradigm of “I will finally be fully worthy when I am in a serious romantic relationship.” I love and care for myself, but to try to make up for some kind of lack. I see the good, but somehow it’s not good enough. I radiate confidence, but secretly have insecurities that nag.
Although I knew I didn’t need fixing as an individual, I felt that standing on my own could never be as good as being part of a couple.
Going back to the man who had a way with words, I felt for the first time in over a year that I had met my match, so to speak. He felt like someone I could be in a relationship with, in regards to our chemistry, his personality, as well as our shared values and goals. It was nice to feel this type of camaraderie, but I couldn't help but think, “This is it?”
I had the potential for connection, partnership, and intimacy right in front of me on a silver platter, but I felt FOMO of being alone.
I realized how much time and energy a relationship takes, that supersedes activities like reading, going to the gym, or simply coming home at the end of a long day and eating Uber Eats in bed with trashy TV...all of a sudden, you have to consider that you might be sharing your bed with someone else who may have different taste in orderves and trashy TV. Truthfully, I didn’t know if I wanted to make this kind of change. I finally understood why people in New York tend to stay single in their 20’s; the world is your oyster in the city and a relationship involves closing the shell.
The grass is always greener on the other side. You always want what you can’t have. Turns out, these old adages are sometimes true.
All of this inner conversation led me to a few external realizations. Firstly, I saw that I needed to love and respect myself more. I needed to see the strength that he saw in me as an asset, rather than baggage. Although I already could identify the strength, which is the first step, I had to EMBRACE it.