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AGONY AUNT: My Happily Ever After

Love letters to myself



The definition of love is an intense feeling or deep affection. I used to believe love was when you find a partner and settle down to have the perfect life with the perfect kids. However, that's changed. I now know love has many different meanings and feelings, it's not just linear.


Love in 2023:


In 2023 finding love can feel very difficult. Especially for those of us that work from home or are just homebodies. (Thank you, pandemic). You often hear stories from parents or grandparents about how love was finding your partner and being with them forever. However times have changed, dating has changed and the way we find people has changed.


Dating apps such as Plenty Of Fish, Tinder and Bumble are really leading the way on finding new connections but the abundance of these apps can just feel overwhelming. It's easy to find or hear about horror stories or bad dates. This alone is enough to put someone off.


It can sometimes feel like you are playing a game with new rules and new language you need to know; Such as ‘situationships’, ‘talking stages’ or ‘SO’. Just when you feel like you are getting the hang of it all, the rules change and suddenly they become more complicated. No one can really tell you how to navigate the maze, you are usually met with ‘when you know you know’ or the favourite ‘kiss a few frogs’ saying when things go wrong. This can all be very draining.


My new outlook:


For me love used to be defined by being in relationships, having the perfect home with the white picket fence or what the movies portray as being in love. My narrative has changed since entering my early 20s.


I find love in the things I enjoy, the relationships I have with my family and friends, but most importantly the love I find within myself. These things never feel draining or a waste of time which these dating apps can feel like for me. I'm not saying there aren't true love stories from dating apps but they aren't for everyone so stop putting yourself in a box. I've become a firm believer that there is love all around but it's what you make out if it matters. If you are constantly seeking out love in places where it is likely you won't receive it, you are losing love in other areas that could be flourishing.


I used to compare myself to my peers that were in relationships or the couples I used to see on social media. It's so easy to fall into that trap. Nothing is as perfect or easy, no matter how much other people make it seem. It got to the point where I felt all my energy was going into the mindset of ‘I'm falling behind my peers’ and ‘ I will be forever alone’. (That used to be a favourite saying of mine). It's just not true. But now I've built healthy and happy habits to keep me from feeling that way. I have hobbies I love, people I love to meet with and I love going to cafes by myself to just enjoy the hustle and bustle. Now I've started to write love letters about myself when I feel good or I'm happy with my achievements . This helps when I feel like I'm comparing my life to other people. I remember all the good parts, all the love I've experienced and the fun I find from within myself.


The reality:


Dating is hard. Finding love is hard. This is not to say don't do it, but do it with a healthy mindset. Tell yourself “If this doesn’t work it's okay, because I have love everywhere else too”. Don't make that your be all and end all. Live freely. It is hard to come out of the headspace; I am falling behind or my friends are getting married, I should start looking too. However, it will only come down to you on how you can change the ways you look at love positively, which comes from yourself. So here are a few home truths I've learnt.


1- You will not be dying alone. This is such a horrible thing to tell yourself. It's like you are setting yourself up for failure at the jump. You have your family your friends and so much more.

2- Stop trying to have those movie style ‘meet cute’ moments. They will never happen by force or if you're constantly searching for them to happen.

3- Love isn't as easy as what you see on social media or on the tv. It's extremely complex and if you are Gen Z it is super confusing!

4- In the wise words of love actually (2003) “If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion... love actually is all around”.


Love yourself.


Sincerely,

Hopeful optimist.



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