Andrew Thies

A holistic love

By  Andrew Thies, Youth Speak News
  • July 25, 2014

When a friend broke up with her long-time boyfriend, I asked her what she would do next. She replied, “I need to take some alone time and figure myself out.” An admirable thing to do, especially right after breaking up with the boyfriend.

As I reflected on my conversation with her that night, I realized she was just one of many caught up in a dating culture that has young people under-valuing themselves.

As a child, my parents didn’t force me to do many things. I’d consider myself lucky in that sense; I had the freedom to pursue my own interests. One of the only things my parents would emphasize was the concept of selfappreciation. Today, their lessons made me realize that I need to fully recognize who I am as a person and celebrate this identity, whatever that identity might be. My friend who ended her long-term relationship came to the ugly conclusion that for years she was defining herself as someone’s significant other. She was just a part of somebody else’s whole.

The relationship culture we have so vigourously made for ourselves is flawed in this sense. My friend isn’t the only example — youth aren’t practising selfappreciation as much as they should, and that’s scary. To give yourself fully to someone else, it’s only logical that you present the best possible version of yourself to your partner, that version being one where you honestly appreciate yourself and in turn can fully appreciate your significant other. It is unfair not only to you but to your partner to give anything less than this version. Both parties deserve as much.

If more of my generation can fully understand their self-worth, we wouldn’t need to feel the false sense of superiority that a dating app like Tinder gives when you judge potential partners based on a photograph.

The dating culture we surround ourselves in could be the causal element which explains why there are so many unsuccessful relationships. According to Statistics Canada, four in 10 first marriages end in divorce. I’m not saying the divorce rate will decrease if we all delete Tinder, but one thing is for sure: You can’t properly love somebody without learning to love yourself first.

This is one of the main reasons I stayed away from serious relationships in high school. The fact that I was kind of nerdy helped my cause, too. Your teenage years are meant to be about discovering who you are as a person, so I did myself a favour by developing my passions and appreciating who I was, and looking back I couldn’t be happier about who I’ve become. It would be unwise to think that I’ve stopped developing and that who I am now will be the same person as who I am in the future. However, I know my self-worth and I don’t define myself as part of anyone else. Having realized this I can truly give myself to somebody else.

(Thies, 19, is a first-year political science student at Glendon College, York University.)

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