As a little girl, I dreamed of finding the same sort of love that I read in books and saw in the movies. Romeo and Juliet. Beauty and the Beast. Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. I guess I was always a hopeless romantic. I believed in soul mates and that I would eventually find “the one.”
As I grew up I had a few relationships. Some of them were more serious than others. When I was 24 I went through a painful heartbreak. But, the truth was, I wasn’t happy in that relationship. After that relationship ended, I swore off being in a relationship. I was totally hopeless that there was such notion of true love out there.
I spent the time following the breakup to piece myself back together again. I made sure to surround myself with friends and family. I learned to enjoy activities I did again as a child, like taking dance classes. Over time I gradually started to see I was becoming strong and confident—something I had last over the past couple of years. I felt such a deep sense of happiness when I finally remember who I was deep inside. I realized then that we cannot love others if we cannot learn to love ourselves first.
After learning to love myself again, I felt ready to accomplish the dreams I had in my heart and made it my goal. I always wanted to travel the world, and was determined to find a way. My renewed sense of confidence helped me to land an awesome job as a flight attendant for Emirates airline. Soon I was going to be living in Dubai and traveling the world. I told myself that there was no way I could meet someone in the few months I had to prepare to leave for Dubai. What would the point be to get attached to someone I would soon be leaving? But, sometimes when you aren’t looking the right things appear.
I can still remember the day I met my current boyfriend, Christoph, nearly four years ago. He was visiting the USA with a friend I knew from Germany. The minute I met him I felt nervous. I couldn’t explain the sort of attraction between the two of us. Over the course of the next week, I became more and more attracted to him. I tried to ignore my feelings but they only grew stronger. I knew I had to tell him how I felt—even though it seemed quite absurd—before he left for Germany. Luckily, when I told him, he said he felt the same exact way too.
We said our goodbyes to each other in Grand Central Station in New York City. As I rode the train home to Connecticut I felt like Celine from Before Sunrise. I wondered—was this the love I had been searching for my entire life? I tried not to get my hopes up, but something just felt different with him.
Over the course of the next months, Christoph and I had many “Skype dates” and texted via Whatsapp. We would also record video messages back and forth to each other. There was something I can remember so concretely that he told me one day on Skype. He said to me that he wasn’t only going to be there for me in the happy times in life. But, that it was his job to be there for me in the times when life wasn’t so pleasant in life as well. From that moment on, we only got closer.
We did a long distance relationship for nearly two years before I moved to Germany to be with him. That’s when all the fun began. When you start living with someone, you start to see all their true colors. Any cracks in your relationship become totally apparent. You both—with two different personalities—must find a way to ride the ways of life together.
As I reflect back over the past years of our relationship, I have to admit something to you. I’m not just happy about all the wonderful times we’ve shared together. But, I’m happy about all the terrible times we had too. That’s because in all those terrible times were time when we grew together and strengthened the bond between us. Christoph and I support each other through the good, the bad and the ugly. We both put in our share of work in our relationship, and we constantly strive to improve it. Yes, we definitely argue sometimes, but we do so in ways to push our relationship to the next level. We do it in a loving way.
Now, my friend, I want you to know that I’m not sharing my story for the sake of telling you. I’m telling you because I want you to find this sort of love too. If you take anything away from what I already wrote then there is something crucial I want you to know: if you ever want to find true love, then you need to love yourself first. You need to spend time figuring out what your needs are, and what kind of affection you wish to receive from someone. You must search deep inside to figure out what your fears and dreams are, and find the right person to share all those feelings with. You must know that you do deserve love. The exact kind of love you are looking for. You can find it, I promise you. But, before you do, you must embrace the love for yourself.
Also, I want you to know that you should never feel as if you are settling. The joys of being with one person to share your hopes, dreams and fears with is one of the greatest adventures we can have in life. The connection I have with Christoph is so strong that I don’t ever question us separating. He’s my best friend and my confidant. He’s the person who pushed me to take the plunge to working on my dream life. He’s the person I never get bored of speaking to. I intend on keeping our relationship this way, and although we may both grow and change as people, I am positive we will never leave one another.
My friend, find that person that compliments you. Find that person that you can grow with. Find the person you can live separate yet interconnected lives. They are out there—you cannot give up your search.
My very best wishes,