How Learning Self-Respect Changed My Love Life

love myself

What standards do you set for yourself on dates? In relationships?

When I was in college I got caught up in the party scene, and I considered dating as going to parties to meet guys. Sometimes that resulted in me being filled with regrets the next morning.

After college I landed my dream job and relocated to a big city. I was on top of the world! But it did not take long for me to find myself back in the party scene that I was part of in college. This time, however, the party life did not fulfill me for long. I realized I wanted something more.

At the end of one long weekend visiting friends and partying for three straight days, I was on a flight home and felt myself hitting bottom. I had spent the majority of that weekend with a guy that I had “casually dated” in the past.

I really liked him and wanted something more than a few drunken hookups, but he did not see me that way. I was done with being just another girl for him to date when it was convenient. I knew I deserved to be someone’s priority, not someone’s afterthought.

Somewhere in the sky between Georgia and Iowa, I made the promise to myself that I was done with weekend binges, casual hookups, and the party scene.  It was then that I decided that I would let go of that unsustainable lifestyle and set higher standards for myself. In order to be treated with love and respect, I needed to realize my own worth and treat myself better.

After making the decision to completely change my life, I spent almost a full year being single. I read countless books, blogs, and magazines about how to live a better life while also having fun. I started to volunteer and work with high school girls as a way to mentor them and encourage them to make better decisions than I did in college. I made all new friends and realized that you can have fun while not getting wasted on the weekends.

For the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged. I was not changing myself to be accepted, my new friends accepted and loved me for who I was—brokenness and all.

When I began to date again, I thought it would be tough to meet a man who would treat me well and understand the changes I had made in my life. I was surprised to find that once I started to demand respect, it was easier for me to see which men were worth exploring a relationship with. It did not take me long to meet someone who appreciated my values and who treated me with love, respect, and dignity.

While that relationship did not work out and I am starting to date again, I find hope in having high standards for my own behavior as a way to protect my dignity as a woman. It makes it easier when deciding whether a new relationship is worth exploring. If a guy respects me and my values, that’s a big step towards deciding if he is a good fit for me. We all deserve to be treated with respect. The first step to making that happen is to respect ourselves and then demand that respect from the men we date.

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