“The relationship you have with yourself will set the tone for all the others in your life. It will guide you, as long as you are committed to it.”
I’ve always been a hopeless romantic.
I’m the girl who will watch the same rom-com over and over again without ever getting sick of it. (Hi, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, My Best Friend’s Wedding—I’m talking to you—to name a few).
I’m the girl who now and then just has to read a good romance novel. I’m the girl who will ask how a couple met and get swept away in each and every story.
I’m the girl who loves a good ole romantic gesture.
It’s probably why on a Valentine’s Day many moons ago I found myself in a plot worthy of a screenplay.
Picture this: single, college-aged gal (that would be me) sits alone at a sushi bar to grab dinner after a day of shopping. The date? February 13th.
Picture this: twenty-something single male, also flying solo, happens to sit next to her (me).
Naturally the two of us began talking and conversation flowed easily. We established the basics: names, ages, where we were from, what we were doing in Boston, and that yes, we were both single.
When I was ready to leave, he asked for my number, asked to see me again.
He seized the moment.
“How about this?” He offered. “Why don’t you think about it and if you want to see me again, meet me here tomorrow night at 7:30. I’d love to take you to dinner for Valentine’s Day. If you’re not here at 7:30, I’ll have my answer.”
Like I said, rom-com-worthy-moment.
I paused, unsure of what to say, but excited by the prospect of being the leading lady in this suspense-filled moment. Would I or wouldn’t I?
“I don’t need you to answer now. Tomorrow 7:30.”
At that, we parted ways.
I then did what any twenty-year-old would do.
I called my best friend from back home. She gushed over the romance of it all. Was I going to go? I didn’t know yet! We giggled like we used to as teenagers and I promised to keep her posted.
I got back to my apartment and emailed my roommates who were studying abroad in Madrid and Paris. Can you believe this? I wrote to them. “What should I do?”
Then I went to bed, still unsure what the next day would bring.
That morning, as I checked my email and was reading a response from the roommate in Paris, my phone rang. It was her. Calling me from Paris. From a payphone. To discuss this.
“You have to go!” I remember her screeching with excitement, imploring me to not even question this.
“How can you not go?! This is so romantic!!”
Yes. It was, right? At that point in my life it was probably the most romantic gesture that had been bestowed upon me.
She was right. I had to go. I had to play out this surreal invite and see where it would take me!
The day dragged at a snail’s pace. I spent most of it debating what to wear. What does one wear for the big finale in a romantic movie?
Outfit decided and makeup ready I made my way back to the restaurant—“our spot”—if the two of us were to turn into an us, a we. I drove, singing along to upbeat music, drowning out any jitters and second thoughts.
I arrived a few minutes after 7:30. And there he stood waiting for me, holding a bouquet of flowers.
I nodded toward the flowers. “What if I hadn’t shown up?”
“I knew you would.” His smile radiated and he sounded confident when he said it, but I could tell he was relieved. He wasn’t sure I would come.
He just took a risk.
This time we didn’t sit at the bar. We sat in the dining room, at a table adorned with a white tablecloth and fine cutlery. Conversation came easy again. A candle flickered between us.
But I knew right away that was the only spark happening at the table.
Truth be told, I probably knew the night before too.
But I had gotten so swept up in the romance of it all, of the grand gesture, in what a good story it would make if it were to work out, how friends and family would want to hear it over and over again, how every Valentine’s Day would hold such significance… that I hadn’t been truthful with myself.
He wasn’t for me and I wasn’t for him.
The night ended sweetly. We parted ways with a hug, no numbers exchanged, just a memory to look back on.
I hadn’t thought of this story in years and years, but it came to me the other day.
It jumped back from the recesses of my memories to remind me of something important.
When something feels even a teeny bit off, you know it. And when something doesn’t feel right, you shouldn’t ignore it.
Most of all, when something isn’t for you, you shouldn’t force it or push it to be so.
Just like a round peg doesn’t fit into a square hole, your heart can’t—and shouldn’t—be jammed into someone else’s if that’s not where it belongs.
Maybe I should have paid attention that first night and saved us both the time, energy and hope. But what I do know is I’m glad we both recognized on the second night that we weren’t for one another.
I’m glad we didn’t remain carried away by the circumstance and push more dates together.
I’m grateful we simply saw the truth and honored it.
So many other times in my life it took me longer than I want to admit to honor my truth.
Romantic gestures would cloud my judgment. Sweet promises would keep me hanging on, when there was no other reason to. And I would talk myself into holding on or trying again just to be sure I was sure. (Hint: it was always much more obvious than I wanted to admit.)
It wasn’t until years and years after this Valentine’s Day that I finally got it. The night I met my now husband it clicked for me.
A deeper knowing. A gut feeling. It didn’t even make sense to me at the time, but I felt those things nonetheless.
(And lucky for me, he did too!)
I think this isn’t just true when it comes to romance. It’s true about friendships, jobs and situations we find ourselves in daily.
Knowing when something doesn’t feel right is a gift. It’s your intuition’s way of pointing you in a better direction. Don’t ignore it.
And for the times when it does feel right? Soak it all in with a grateful, happy, loving heart. Move forward with confidence, ease and peace of mind.
Be in a love affair with yourself first. Make time to be alone with your thoughts, your dreams, your fears, your truths. Commit to knowing yourself fully and having such a close relationship with your intuition that you move through your life with certainty instead of doubt.
Because it turns out? Honoring what feels right to you is ultimate gesture of love that you can give yourself.
A version of this post was originally published on universeletters.com
Angie Sarhan Salvatore received her M.F.A in Creative Non-Fiction. She currently teaches college writing and designs inspirational jewelry. For more of her work, you can follow her blog, which focuses on infusing more mindfulness and positivity in your day-to-day life. For your daily dose of inspiration, find her Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Image courtesy of Brandon Christopher Warren.