Ten years ago, my life was a complete mess.
I was 25 years old, my grandmother was dying, and my Adderall use was quickly becoming an addiction. I was in a world of debt, and losing friends fast. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, the man I loved started cheating on me and my relationship ended in violence.
Up until that point, I’d never had good experiences with dating. My previous relationships had created a yearning for validation that ruled me mentally, physically, and emotionally. They caused me to feel weak, inadequate, and worthless in every aspect of life.
I would constantly attract men who did not appreciate my value because I did not appreciate my own self-worth at the time.
I knew I needed to learn to love myself the way that I wanted someone else to love me. But I didn’t know how.
One night when things were at their worst, I was walking toward my condo and saw a book sitting on a bench. I could feel a distinct energy drawing me toward the text, and I stood frozen when I saw the words “fourth deadly sin” on its cover. When I opened the book, I saw that it was talking about lust. I’m a spiritual person, and I took the text as a sign that I needed to stop putting my relationships before God and myself.
I decided to let go of relationships altogether, and I made a commitment never to date again. I told myself that fulfilling my purpose was far more important than anything I could gain from a romantic partnership. Intimacy was something I thought I would never have again, and I was totally okay with that.
I avoided situations in which I could be hit on — I stopped going out and barely communicated with members of the opposite sex unless they were married or in a serious relationship. I built a wall around myself that was so high that I had no idea how anyone could ever break it down. Intimacy simply wasn’t an option, so my entire life became about working to create a business. I began developing courses for life coaches and eventually started traveling near and far to teach at wellness retreats.
I never allowed myself to think about what I was missing out on, because I knew that the no-dating decision was propelling me forward in my career. For a long time, life was so much easier without the pain of dating. I didn’t have to worry about getting hurt in a love department that no longer existed.
But the lingering thought that I didn’t want to go through the rest of my life without a partner by my side slowly became louder and louder. But, after years alone, I had started to push people away on instinct. I felt powerless — as though I’d lost the ability to form meaningful relationships with the opposite sex. The wall I’d built in my 20s remained strong.
I didn’t have to worry about getting hurt in a love department that no longer existed.
Then, a few weeks ago, after going 10 years without a single date, I was sitting in a beautiful mansion after having just put on one of the most amazing retreats of my life. I was completely blown away by the dreams that were coming true in my life. I was traveling to beautiful parts of the world, leading retreats for amazing, passionate clients. But in that moment, all I wanted was someone to share these experiences with.
My heart began to feel gratitude for all of the time I had spent dedicating my life to my dreams, but I knew that it was absolutely time for me to let the wall come down. And with this new-found resolution, I felt my wall disappear on its own. I knew that the person I was meant to find would show up in my life in the most unexpected way and I would be able to fully accept them.
I’m going to accept whatever the universe has planned for me and let go of my fear of relationships. After these years on my own, I now know that fear’s only purpose is to keep us from pain, but there is no greater pain than fear itself.
I’m going to open myself up to love in all of its capacities, but I’m holding on to these 10 lessons I learned in my decade off dating:
1. Nothing in the world will ever make you feel validated until you validate yourself.
2. Learning to fully rely on yourself and love yourself unconditionally is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your future partner.
3. Putting yourself first is the least selfish thing you will ever do. The world needs you at your most authentic, and that takes a tremendous amount of self-care.
4. Building a wall around yourself to keep the pain out only keeps the pain contained inside of your own heart. Stay open.
5. Forgiveness is never about the other person. When we hold on to anger for another person, we only hurt ourselves.
Fear’s only purpose is to keep us from pain, but there is no greater pain than fear itself.
6. The love we look for on the outside is so deeply ingrained in every ounce of our being that we are never alone. All the love we need is in our own heart.
7. No matter how much we love ourselves, there is no better feeling than having someone to share our dreams with. This can mean sharing them with friends and family, too.
8. Everything we go through — good or bad — brings us closer to God and the highest version of ourselves. See every obstacle as a call to deepen your relationship to the divine and you will turn even the biggest mistake into a miracle.
9. Every ounce of this life is precious. Do not waste one minute holding your love back from the world.
10. True strength lies in your ability to show the world your most authentic self — even the vulnerable part.