Finding the Love That I Deserve
Learning to accept myself and real love.
In college, I was introduced to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which quickly became my favorite movie. In the movie, there are multiple couples both adults and teenagers and certain of the couples are in abusive relationships. Charlie, the main character, asks his teacher why people choose the wrong people to date. His teacher responds with a piece of wisdom that has stayed with me and altered my perspective.
"We accept the love we think we deserve"
Between abusive situations, exposure to bad relationships, and my awkwardness as a kid, I did not have a great idea of the love that I deserved. Even into high school, I became infatuated with any guy that would give me any time. My level for what constitutes the love I deserve was basically anyone who would talk with me in a nice way.
Learning to Accept Myself
The first step on my journey to finding the love that I deserved was to accept myself. You need to accept yourself and the qualities you have to understand that you deserve more.
Honestly, I still struggle with accepting myself in certain capacities. Accepting yourself can be a lifelong journey, but there is a certain level you should reach before you can establish true quality relationships.
In college, I developed a close friendship that isolated me from other friends. After about 7 months of being friends, the friendship ended badly. The majority of my peers in my small school were pitted against me and lies were spread about me.
When I went through this experience, I realized that there were two ways I could react to the situation. Believe that this was what I deserved, which meant accepting that I was the person she had made people believe I was. Or recognize that I deserved better. That I was worth more.
Initially, I chose the first road as I had been doing my whole life. However, after a certain point, I became angry. This anger triggered my move into the second road. I wanted to be treated better. I took stock of who I was and realized that I had many good qualities. I was ambitious, smart, dedicated, and unfortunately, very loyal.
This triggered a shift in my thinking where I started accepting myself and recognizing that I deserved much more.
Learning From Mistakes
When I entered my first relationship, I fell into the same patterns that I had before. I wanted a relationship and the first guy that continued to talk to me through online dating became my first boyfriend.
While he was a decent guy, we were not very compatible. He still needed to grow and couldn't be the type of person that I really deserved. For example, while I was very ambitious, he wanted to take his life slow and just do whatever came along.
The critical mistake I made is that as a young child I decided that my first boyfriend would be the only person I was with. Now, this is not horrible when you are a kid, but it can quickly become a bad situation if you keep believing it as an adult.
I was so determined to make my first my only that I was planning a wedding with a man that I didn't really want to be with. We wanted two very different lives and he didn't know how to give me what I wanted and needed.
Eventually, he broke things off and I will be forever thankful that he did. It took me all of two days to grieve our relationship. On the third day, I realized that it was for the best and I was finally free to do what I want.
I had learned from my mistake, but in my next relationship, I overcorrected.
Learning to Accept the Love I Deserve
Soon after that relationship ended, I moved to graduate school and started my second relationship. My new boyfriend was very compatible with me and was honestly a great guy.
He cared for and took care of me. He would cook and clean for me. He made sure I took care of myself even when I would prioritize my work above myself.
I was finally with an amazing person who truly cared for me, and I fought it hard.
Because of my previous experiences, I was ready to exit this next relationship at a moment's noticed. I wanted to ensure that the relationship was actually right for me. However, I was still struggling with believing that I actually deserved to be treated this way.
"He was way too good for me and deserved better" is all I could think.
Any time things were going well between us, I would instinctively start a fight between us. Honestly, I don't know how he stayed with me through that.
I would continually ask him why he liked me. "You're smart, cute, and ambitious.", he would always say. How could that be enough? He could find plenty of girls smarter, more beautiful, and more successful.
"He gives to me way more than I give to him", I remember saying to my therapist at the time. "Does he feel that way?", she responded.
No, he felt as though he didn't deserve me, which completely baffled me.
"While what you give doesn't mean much to you, it is what the other person values.", My therapist responded.
This discussion shattered my thinking. He truly enjoyed taking care of me, even though I saw it as a burden upon him. I enjoyed having intellectual conversations, which is what he valued above all else. I saw myself as a burden because I didn't think I deserved what he enjoyed doing.
It is the same as not wanting a cake from a bakery chef who loves their work because it was a burden for them to make the cake for you.
I began to appreciate what he did for me without the guilt of being a burden. As a result, I fell even deeper in love with him. We stopped fighting each other and decided to accept that the relationship made us both happy. While there are still times I think I am lucky to be with him, overall I recognize that I deserve to be truly loved.
In our fourth year together and second year being engaged, we are happy together. Our relationship has become stronger as a result of the trials we have gone through. We fight less and live life more, simply because I learned how to accept the love that I deserve.
Finding the love you deserve is just as much about learning you deserve real love as it is finding someone who will give you real love.