For most of my life, I yearned desperately for romantic love.
I wanted someone to fill the gaps that my fractured, estranged relationship with my mother left behind. Someone to reassure me that I matter, that I’m lovable, that I’m worthy. Basically someone to do the work that I needed to do for myself.
Of course this never happened, because it’s a dysfunctional way to approach love. I look back on that version of me compassionately, because I know that she was just doing the best she could with what she knew. She was trying so hard to give enough, be enough, to receive love in return.
I know now that’s not the way to be in a relationship, and that I was attracting toxic dynamics with partners because of my own unhealed trauma. I’m still not sure how to shift away from my chemistry with people who are all wrong for me, so I am actively working on my own wounds and healing and leaving the romantic component aside. It doesn’t feel realistic for me to dive into something new at this point.
What I have discovered on this journey through better understanding myself, my past, and my behavior, is that my friendships are precious and priceless. As I’ve opened up to showing my true self more authentically and fearlessly, I have strengthened my existing bonds as well as developed some beautiful new relationships. It continues to amaze me, the way that the people in my life show up for me now that I’m more willing to receive. Turns out that there has always been help around – I just didn’t want to take it. Conditioned to believe that I had to do everything on my own, I thought of accepting assistance as meaning that I owed others an unrepayable debt. Now I understand that love is a two-way street, in any and all relationships. In order to function, it’s a give and take for everyone involved – and that’s a good thing.
I know that I’m traveling the correct path because I’ve gained some beautiful friendships recently, developed stronger ties within existing ones, and shed those that are toxic, stagnant, and no longer serve me. It can feel difficult to walk away, especially when you are a habitual people-pleaser. It’s taken some time and difficult, awkward interactions. Sometimes those who have been in your life a while resist it when you change, especially if your easygoing, conflict-avoidant former self was a lot simpler for them to manipulate. It’s okay. They are dealing with their own problems as well, and they are also doing the best they know how. You are simply in a different place now, so wish them well, but also know when someone is not beneficial for your own health and healing. Let them go with gentleness and ease.
I’ve gained a keen appreciation for the love of friends over the last year and a half. Honestly, I have gotten so much more positivity and happiness from these relationships than from any of my toxic, ill-suited romantic partnerships. I think it’s a great training ground for me to learn how to function in all relationships and it feels like a safer arena to navigate for the time being.
So I ask you, what if you start treating your friends like they are all the most important lovers you’ve ever had? I believe that in the end, they actually are! The effort and commitment you put into your interactions with true friends is repaid tenfold, and when you learn to love your friends this way, you can also better love future (or current) partners. Try it out. Lean into friend love – I think it just might be the best love ever.
Speaking of love, I’m sending some your way too! There can never be too much love in this world. Happy Monday.