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Love Yourself First: 7 Steps to Finding the Love You Crave

Photo: Courtesy of Travis Long

Author Leslie Morgan shares what she learned about life after divorce and how these seven things brought her love, starting with herself.

At 49, I got divorced for the second time after two decades of a slowly dying marriage. Based on my ex-husband’s opinion of my sexual appeal, I was afraid my naked body would cause future lovers to run screaming from the room. Obviously, some women would swear off love altogether; others would rightly turn to therapy, yoga, or self-help.

However, having male energy around can be a great thing and has always revitalized how I view parenting, work, money, death, sex, and parts of myself. I knew most men were good guys, and didn’t want to write them off entirely. So I came up with the crazy idea of having five sweet and supportive boyfriends for a year to see what I could learn from having other men in my life and how it could change my self-confidence for the better.* To the surprise of my feminist heart, it worked. Here’s what I learned about how to love yourself and your body:

1. Accept yourself as you are right at this moment

Forget about the 10 pounds you want to lose, or finding the perfect pair of jeans, or getting your next promotion. Stop looking for your soulmate, and instead, be your own soulmate. If you love the real you, someone else will, too.

2. Don’t internalize rejection 

Not everyone is going to like your personality or physical self. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. Period.

3. Don’t expect partners to magically come to you

They won’t. Potential partners are everywhere — in airports, restaurants, the supermarket, Starbucks, yoga class, the local dog park, online dating sites,the sidewalk, everywhere. But you have to see them! If you don’t think of yourself as noticeable, they won’t either.   

4. Go out into the world alone

Remain open for interaction! Walk or use public transportation; don’t wear headphones in public; and always leave space next to you at the bar, airport lounge, park bench, or Sweetgreen counter. You will never meet someone new on your couch or in an empty taxi.

5. Smile — not for them, but for you

Carry your personality confidently, and make eye contact for three seconds with every person who sparks your interest. Wear things that make you feel good, like a splashy dress, an unusual hat, or crazy shoes. Even if you never see them again, sometimes strangers taking notice can make you feel attractive and special in refreshing and lasting ways.

6. Don’t play hard to get

You’re a grown-up, so go after what you want. If you like someone, flirt! Don’t give away your power by waiting for someone else to make the first, second, or third move. If you see someone intriguing, get their name and number! I promise it won’t kill you.

7. Let them love you

The first man I slept with after my divorce (who, by the way, was smoking hot and 20 years younger) told me I had a spectacular body. Me? The same woman whose husband had told not to leave the bathroom without a robe because her naked body made him “edgy”? Another partner used to stroke the cellulite on my belly and say, “I love this part of you.” I started to see myself through my lovers’ eyes, instead of my own critical ones that had been taught by society that we must all look like swimsuit models in order to be loved.

8. Project outside what you want to feel inside

Look for kindness in other people, but don’t forget to be kind to yourself – the whole point here is that as your own soulmate, yours is the most important body to accept and you are the most important person on earth to befriend.

*My viewpoint is from my perspective as a heterosexual woman. But change the gender identification and/or sexual orientation to whatever works for you, and let me know if the same advice holds true. Thank you.

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