How do you love to be loved?
I think that we each have a unique answer to this question, and likely a long one. There are a lot of different ways we love and show our love for one another. We tell someone the lovely things we think about them. We surprise our loved one with a special treat. We give our partner a back rub at the end of a long day. We listen - to stories, to rants, to the unsaid words in the silence.
But, what if you don't have someone in your life to love you in those unique ways that you love to be loved?
Well, I propose that you Be Your Own Boyfriend. Or Girlfriend. Or Best Friend. The title is not important. Be the person you need. This is about self-care. This is about loving yourself in the ways you love to be loved. There's no need to go without or to wait until someone comes along who can love you in those ways. Love can be a DIY project.
What follows are some of the ways that I have learned to be my own boyfriend, my own loved one. These are, then, the unique ways that I love to be loved and they may not be yours, but perhaps these ideas will spark you to consider that question - How do I love to be loved? - and then put into action some simple ways to show yourself some of that love. (Oh hey, future boyfriend! I sent you the link to this post and strongly implied that it would be in your best interest to read it, didn't I? Yeah, sounds like something I'd do. Listen up.)
- Buy yourself flowers. Once a month-ish, I buy myself a bouquet of flowers from the farmers market, or scavenge for them in the countryside. For me, flowers are one of the cheapest sources of joy.
- Set your phone to send you sweet-nothings throughout the day. I'm not ashamed to tell you that I wake up every morning to a message on my phone that reads, "Good morning, beautiful." It's surprisingly heartwarming. As soon as there's an app that will make me breakfast, I think my iPhone and I will make it official. (Side note: I've also set my phone to buzz and pop up the message "Take your meds, lady!" at 8 am everyday. Whenever my kids hear that alarm go off, they shout at me "Take your meds, lady!" as a sort of conditioned response. It's one of my favourite things.)
- Run yourself a bath. Get out the fancy bubbles and bath oils. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Put on your favourite tunes or set up your iPad in some sort of waterproof cocoon so you can watch Friday Night Lights (guys, I know I'm late to this party, but OMG so good). Or screw all that and just splash around to your heart's content. I mean, it's you that's going to have to clean it up, remember, but what better way to clean the bathroom floor?
- Sit with yourself - not simply by yourself but with yourself - and listen for the words unsaid, as you would with a dear friend. Greet those words with kindness and an open heart.
- Celebrate your birthday. Don't wait on someone to plan a party or sing the song. Sing it yourself. Buy yourself cake. You'll be guaranteed to get the kind you want. If you can, spend the day doing something you really love.
- Cook your favourite meal, just for you. Take the time to pick out the right ingredients and to prepare the meal slowly and with love. If you are so inclined, light a candle and use fancy plates and sit at an actual table that is not a coffee table or a couch cushion. Or take yourself out for dinner. Trust me, you can do that. It may feel uncomfortable sitting at a table for one but in all honesty, nobody cares and listen to this: you don't have to share your dessert with anyone.
- Netflix and chill. By yourself. You heard me. Either literally or metaphorically. (Oh jeepers, now I'm going to have to explain this to my mother. Sex, ma, it means sex.)
- Rant out loud to yourself (perhaps in the privacy of your own home?) or get it out on paper. Is it as satisfying as ranting to someone else who will nod and mm-hmm and give you all the visual cues that they believe you are totally justified in your ranting? No, frankly it's not. But it still feels good.
- Get a massage. For my part, I recently bought a gym membership and the level of membership I purchased includes the use of hydromassage beds. When signing up for the membership, I thought I'd just give the massage thing a whirl but I didn't expect much. I assumed I'd decide I could do without. But then I tried one and HERE HAVE ALL MY MONEY. My kingdom for a hydromassage. Seven minutes of heaven that I really don't think a boyfriend could replicate. If you're keeping track, the robots are winning.
- Check in with yourself about how you're feeling. Loved ones, boyfriends, girlfriends...they check in to see if you're comfortable, if you're happy, if you're feeling safe. Are you warm enough? Are you having a good time? Do you want something to eat? Do you like where you are - this restaurant, this neighbourhood, this career, this life? Make a point of checking in with yourself and asking those questions.
These are just a few ideas and, as I said, they are my own and they may not float your particular boat. The point is to consider how you can meet your needs instead of waiting for others to meet them for you. This is about empowering yourself to create the love you want and the life you want instead of relying on destiny or luck to bring you what your heart desires.
But you know what? I believe if you do this, if you learn how to show yourself the love you need, if/when someone does come around who wants to show you some love too, you'll know what you want, you'll know what your favourite kind of love feels like, and they'll have a shining example of how to love you in just the right way. I believe this Dr. Phil-ism to be true: You teach people how to treat you.
Show 'em how it's done.