Relationship approval starts with yourself

Tradition goes out the window

WHEN I was eight, my sister and I would follow Mum to choir practice, a choir that would sing religious music, mainly in Latin.

We started to learn sight reading. I went on to develop my skills at choir school, singing at weddings on weekends. With classical music so embedded in my roots, I used it as a way to escape and daydream. I got a scholarship to the Adelaide Conservatorium to continue my learning as a classic vocalist. I always thought classical music was romantic and passionate. Through music, I imagined exactly how my wedding would look and what music I would have, I honestly envisioned love as fairytale.

A classic daydreamer throughout my journey into adulthood, those fundamental values surrounding love seemed so far fetched and difficult to find. My sister and I grew up in a single-parent family with my mother and in today's society, that doesn't seem so unusual any more. The lack of a father figure made it more challenging to figure out what a good relationship should look like and how a healthy relationship should play out. Just like a romantic movie, showing all the fine moments and amazing stuff, I legitimately thought these edited love stories were what a functional relationship should look like. When I started to ask couples how they met, how they fell in love, I was always captivated. But the reality is, many of these stories failed to mention the hardships and sacrifices that brought these relationships to that tipping point to eternal love.

With much time to reflect on love, I can see how love stories have begun to take on a different realm in today's society. Tradition is out the window. In fact the normal conventional love I used to pine for as a tween, make me (now in my 30s) feel a bit uncomfortable, a little trapped and smothered. As a single, I now see the key to love as being progressive, just like the kind of society to which I want to be attached.

I think it has been so empowering taking time to get to know Nadia and develop a relationship with her, rather than depend on another to fulfil me or make me happy. It was a hard road to self-acceptance. pushing through lonely nights, running to the arms and company of someone to fulfil that loneliness.

Why do we find it so hard to look into our own heart and soul? If we are hard on ourselves, will that make us strive to do more, be more and not just settle? What if that little voice inside our heads takes this too far with an obsession to achieve and "be better” and "do better” that we almost become too focused on achievement than opening the heart to love and relationships, "I will be happier when...”

It is easy within a relationship to cast responsibility of our lack of confidence and lack of achievement onto your partnership. What I learned from being single is when you eliminate family, friends and relationships, you have you and sometimes in those hard times, you need to learn how to care and nurture yourself. This means you have to take control of your happiness.

Being single in my 30s, I learned that running to the arms of a man who has no intention of a future with you is a waste of time. I learned how to check in with myself and ask what does Nadia want to do and what does Nadia need, allowing me to empower myself and sometimes that meant choosing a night in, choosing a movie I loved and eating what I wanted rather than attending a social engagement or going on a date. Sometimes it meant I would spend three hours on my bike in my own thoughts.

But now summer is upon us and getting back into the dating game is a thing. Letting go of the comfortable relationship I nurtured with myself means opening my heart and mind to connecting with men again. So as the nights get longer and warmer, the dresses get shorter, the gazes linger (at the bar that is), now is the time to get back into the game.

Time to let go of the traumas of your relationships past, there is no set time as to when you should or shouldn't be in a relationship. When you get the dreaded question "when are you going to settle down”, you can confidently say "when I am ready, thank you”. Respect yourself when dating and continue to nurture your relationship with yourself.

Finally, on the topic of love, never loose faith in love - the romance, listening to the twisted truths of love, the hurdles many go through, their social dilemma, closing and opening doors. The common thread is courage and trust.

Remember, you can't always win at everything but you can laugh at everything.