I have this new thing, where I have a fortune cookie with my morning coffee each day.
I love everything about fortune cookies.
I love the strange shape that they are. I love the taste of them (oh, and they are totally awesome as a dipping tool into a jar of Nutella). And most importantly, I love the little philosophical messages inside. I love that shit.
The other days message was this one:
"Our first and last love is... self-love"
And it's so true.
Lately, a lot of friends have been coming to me for relationship advice.
The wisdom that I impart on them, generally begins with the same question.
"What's on your list of non-negotiables in a partner?"
Because I believe that far too many of us settle out of a fear of being lonely.
Which demonstrates a lack of self-love right there. Which is what todays article is about.
Like Jean-Paul Sartre, the French Philosopher once said "If you are lonely when you're alone, you are in bad company".
I truly believe that until you are content within your own company, you are always going to be attracting someone into your life that is lacking something in some way.
The second thing that I always tell people is to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Open and honest. It's how people fall in love.
If you keep your walls up, how is anyone ever supposed to get in to know the real you?
If there's one piece of advice that I know is true beyond the shadow of a doubt, is that one of the most desirable traits that anyone can have, is confidence.
True confidence comes from not being afraid to make a fool of yourself. Being comfortable in your own skin. Not giving a shit what anyone else thinks of you.
And then I had to stop, and ask myself, "am I the right person to give relationship advice?"
I'd like to say, that yes, actually. I am.
Whilst my own relationship didn't work out in the end, it did for two decades. And that's a really, really long time.
And I have learnt a lot from my own relationship in terms of what works, and what doesn't.
The most important piece of advice I can give, is to communicate.
If you have something to say, say it.
Don't allow things to get swept under the carpet, which will eventually become a thread bare rug.
There is nothing worse you can do than not speak up. To not say what it is that is bothering, or concerning you. To be brave enough to be able to have those uncomfortable conversations.
Bottling things up, only leads to resentment. And resentment festers, and infects things in the same way a virus does. It literally eats away at you.
And it destroys everything.
You are not dealing with the real issue at hand.
You are holding all of those resentments, and grievances in.
So something as trivial as not putting the lid back on the toothpaste, or not putting the toilet seat down, can become a massive deal.
These things are all a non-issue. Trust me (unless you're a complete nag, and control freak with OCD), these are never the root of the problem. You are going to have to sit with yourself, and be completely honest, and ask what it is that is going on.
Know that it's got nothing to do with any of these things that you think might bother you.
It runs much deeper than that. And you have to know yourself, and be consciously aware, to recognise what is truly going on. You also need to have those uncomfortable conversations with yourself as well...
And to women - don't expect a man to read your mind. Men really are quite simple creatures. If they ask you what's wrong, and you say "nothing" - then as far as the man in concerned, nothing is wrong. Speak up, and don't play games. It's up to YOU to express yourself.
The next thing is to have your own interests. Find out what your passion is, and pursue it. And discover what your partners' passion is too, and support them in what their heart is drawing them towards.
Also, understand that you cannot change anyone. The only person that you can change is yourself.
And that can come in many different forms. That change that is.
You can change the way you look at a situation.
You can change what it is that you're willing to put up with.
Yes, relationships are ALWAYS about compromise, however concentrate on changing you. Never the other person. We all are how we are.
Next, keep your sense of humour.
Life is pretty funny a lot of the time.
Compliment each other. It's nice to be nice.
Something that I believe is paramount to the success of any long-term relationship is keeping some mystery there.
There is a difference between being comfortable with someone, and being a complete neanderthal.
Give each other space.
Anything that is truly yours will never be lost anyway. And I personally believe it's of the utmost importance to not only know how to be on your own, but to also enjoy your own company. It's not up to the other person to entertain you. You are not 5.
Know how to be boring together.
Life is not always super exciting.
Life is a lot of routine, and monotony. Do those monotonous things together in some way. Not together, together. You know what I mean. But it takes a lot to run a household together. The washing. The gardening. The dishes. The groceries. The bills. Don't allow all of the household chores fall to one person only. It will go back to that whole resentment thing. And nothing good will come from that. Believe me.
Remain thoughtful towards one another. Remember the things he or she likes.
Do not hold the other person responsible for your feelings. This is a massive one.
No one is responsible for the way you feel, except for you.
It's like the example of someone abusing the other person. Where they blame-shift to the other person, and a common excuse given is "if you didn't make me so angry, then I wouldn't have said / done what I did".
This is a load of total FUCKING BULLSHIT.
It's up to the individual to react the way that they do.
To hold someone else accountable for your own emotions is not only childish, but it's also incredibly selfish. It's on YOU to own your feelings. They're yours, and yours alone.
And lastly, you want to WANT the other person. Not need them.
Something I refer to as the "co-dependency trap", is something that we can easily fall into. Where we rely upon the other person to fill us up.
They are not an extension of you. They are not the fabled "other half".
You are whole already.
And if there are any missing pieces, I strongly advise you to search tirelessly for those pieces before embarking upon a new journey with someone else.
After all, we are born alone, and we ultimately die alone.
Which is why both our first, and last love, is self-love.
Because until you love yourself, above and beyond everything, and everyone else, you are never going to find it in someone else.