I waited my whole life for this kind of love.
I grew up wild. I would risk anything for a man who loved me.
I soon came to realize the kind of love I was really searching for was the kind I was willing to give, and not many were willing to risk giving back.
Throughout my adolescence, I would continuously give myself away, over and over again, even when not asked. In fact, I gave myself away so much that a man I was with for years cheated on me with an exotic dancer, started a relationship with her, and after they ended, I still took him back.
Talk about low self-esteem, codependence, and wanting to be loved so desperately.
It was only after my last relationship, where I had given up my career and moved to Vancouver away from my family just to be with him (only to have him gaslight me and spend more time shining up his beloved Ducati motorcycle than actually spend time with me or cuddle up on the beach while watching the sunset) that I started to put all this love that I had always poured into someone else, into myself.
Yep, I dated myself.
And it was glorious.
I did all my favorite things for myself, by myself. I took myself on beautiful walks in Autumn. I bought London fogs and made “I love me” playlists full of music as vibrant as the color of the leaves falling around me. I bought myself dinners out. I lit candles and listened to jazz and blues while drinking red wine and read romantic books.
I looked in the mirror, took myself all in, and decided I wouldn’t date anyone until they could reciprocate love like I gave—and how I loved myself.
I had faith he was out there.
I got off dating apps and stopped going on dates with men I knew weren’t for me. For the first time since I was 15, I was happy to rebuild myself and focusing on my own life.
I was travelling from Edmonton to Mexico to visit my dad, who had just bought a house there. I walked to the gate, looking for an empty seat. There were two empty seats next to this man who was watching the news. I sat down. He turned his head, looked at me with piercing blue eyes, and said in a southern drawl, “Wow, crazy weather, hey?”
Immediately, I felt the air being sucked from my lungs. I didn’t know this man. But I knew he was going to be important to me.
That man is so much more than a pair of blue eyes and a cute accent. My heart recognized him long before I got to know him.
He is the most romantic person I have ever met. I have never been so fully seen, so fully chosen by another person before. His romance isn’t how we are taught—it isn’t luxurious, or a movie reel of perfection.
His romance is messy; his romance is hard work.
His romance helps me receive; it helps me to know that when I make mistakes, I’m still cherished and loved.
His romance is true, pure romance.
His romance is love.
Wait for this kind of romance. It’s worth it.
It will find you right when its meant to.
In the meantime, romance yourself. Fill your own cup. Your self-love will attract others with the same heart as you.
And I do suggest making the playlist. I still tell my husband we have to thank Michael Buble one day.
My poem is what real, true romance is all about:
I had a man ask me once
What is romance to you?
Is it flowers and chocolates and fancy dinners? Is it nights out, evenings in, or being swept off your feet?
Is it gifts, notes of love, or money?
None of that
It’s the look in your eye when you gaze at me
The respect you show me every time you listen to my words
It is your arms around me on my darkest of days
The drying of my eyes when I shed the ugliest of tears
It is weaved in the boring days, between two best friends, working with each other in all the mess, chaos, joys and sorrows
It is in the laughs, the invitation of seeing each other in clear, unadulterated rawness and realness
The most romantic thing you can do for someone
Is to choose them
For exactly who they are