My mother was the one who always gave me advice about love.
Since I was a kid, we’ve always communicated about everything, and I’ve consulted her in every single matter—I think because she was always present.
The only memory I have of my father when we were kids was him leaving to work and coming back home late at night after a long, tiring day.
His long hours at work were the reason why our communication was too simplistic—he literally never had the time to do anything but provide for his family. But that changed a few years ago when he changed his career path.
We’ve been spending a lot of time together and making up for all the hours that his past work took away from us. We’ve bonded, communicated, and built a relationship that’s similar to the one I have with Mom.
Sometime around midsummer, when we were sitting in his garden, we opened the topic of love and relationships. He opened his heart and told me things I didn’t know before.
Swinging between various events during his young romantic life, he asked me, “Do you know what is the most important thing in a relationship?”
Being the emotionally intelligent person I think I am, I had different answers in my head. Could it be communication? Good sex maybe? Respect? Honesty?
Respecting the fact that he was older and wiser than me, I told him, “I don’t know. What do you think is the most important thing in love?”
It was a big moment for me. That question was indeed important, and not only I was getting an answer for it, but it was coming from my own father with whom I rarely communicated about intimate stuff.
“The most important thing in a relationship, my daughter, is to trust yourself.”
He knocked my socks off with his answer—I literally froze in my place. I was shocked because I already knew what he was hinting at, and I didn’t expect that answer coming from him. It was so obvious that I zoned out and he had to ask me, “What’s wrong?”
With excitement to know more, I chuckled and said, “Go on.”
He explained to me that if we don’t trust ourselves in a relationship, we will never be able to trust our partner. We will always be suspicious, jealous, and needy. Unless we believe we are good enough, worthy, and beautiful, we will never be able to reflect that unto the other person.
He continued, “Being jealous or suspicious is nonsense. Know that whoever is going to cheat doesn’t need our permission to do so. They might cheat, anyway. Our job is not to stop them but to work on our reaction, choices, self-love, and fix what’s wrong.”
In addition, my father explained that through trusting ourselves, we can become better partners—we remove the pressure off our lover to meet our endless list of expectations.
When he finished talking, I was shocked even more. I just couldn’t say anything. I kept reflecting on his answer for weeks because, let me be honest, I’ve struggled with trust issues for the entirety of my life.
His words reminded me of my ex five years ago. One time, when we were yelling and fighting over the phone, he told me, “You know what’s your problem? You don’t trust yourself.”
I hung up on him and was so pissed off at him. What does he mean I don’t trust myself? What a f*cking jerk—of course I do!
Five years later, dad gives me the same advice. But it wasn’t personal this time. My father gave me general advice, but he didn’t know that he struck a chord when he said it.
Here’s the blunt truth: no, I never trusted myself. If I trusted myself and trusted what I deserved, I wouldn’t have stayed in toxic situations with toxic people. I wouldn’t have blamed others for my own unhappiness. I wouldn’t have had trust issues. I wouldn’t have been suspicious, jealous, and thought that I was just unlucky in love.
If I trusted myself, I would have known that to have a successful relationship with someone else, I need to nurture the one I have with myself as well.
There is no linear reality out there. I hold the mirror to what happens to me and how I wish to be treated.
Although I might sound regretful or as if I’m blaming myself, I am more than grateful that I never trusted myself because now I know what it feels like to love myself, mistakes and all. I know the taste of a healthy relationship, and I’m no longer waiting for others to define my own self-worth.
I have the key to it all.
You might not have found that key yet, and that’s okay. I found it at 31, and I have yet to find many more keys that lead to different doors I didn’t even know existed.
Be patient with yourself, and above all, trust yourself (whatever that means to you).