Milan, int., day. Three friends sharing an afternoon coffee on a winter day like any other.

*singing under her breath* …and if you think that I’m still holding onto something, you should go and love yourself… 
Have you ever asked yourself what that means?
What?
To love yourself.
Nope, I think it’s pretty literal, though.
No, silly. I mean, what does the idea of loving yourself really mean? It’s interesting, after all, you know, it’s not just about the song.
Hmm. Not sure I am following, please explain.
Well, it makes sense, right? You’ve got to love yourself first before you can love anyone else.
Oh yeah, sure, and remember to love thy neighbor, too.
Stop it, I am trying to be serious here! We always say that when we are having a hard time, right?!? That we should start from ourselves, that we should take care of our own personal space, before we can let someone else into that space. It’s kinda what I have been trying to do since I became single, anyway, basically.
Ah, ok, I get it.
So have you ever asked yourself what it really means to love yourself?
Well, I know what that means to me, off the top of my head. When you’ve been in a relationship for years, you know there is one essential thing that is the basis for everything else, and that is time. That is the main investment, you know? It’s the foundation of everything, including the love that ties you as a couple. The time you take for the other person is everything, you take it away from yourself, with the knowledge that you will never get it back. No one is keeping scores, even though sometimes people do. What I am trying to say is that I feel like I love myself when I take time for myself, maybe that sounds selfish. But honestly, whichever activities I fill that time with, it feels like time for myself is the only way to regenerate my relationship with myself.
Well see, I have tons of that – I have a lot of time to myself. But… How does it work, then? I was never in a long relationship, so I have no clue. Do you have a timer to check how you use your time?
Well, yes, if I spend too much time with him I feel like I might explode, haha! Nah. Don’t be silly. I just try not to get to the point of no return, even though it’s not so easy. When I realize I spend most of my time taking care of other people, or at work, I try to take something back for myself. Even little details can make a difference. A coffee on my own at home, after he left, or watching an episode on Netflix before he comes home for dinner… This is all time to myself that allows me to realize whether I feel balanced on that day. It’s not always easy. I wear Bridget Jones PJs at night and I haven’t been on a diet since 1992, but that said, taking those few minutes to myself every day helps me wake up with a smile… Every day.
Lucky you, I always feel like I can’t find any way to make it work.
How so?
I am trying to love myself, but the truth is that I feel like a sub teacher who got employed to teach the wrong subject, kind of. I embarked on this epic mission in the hope that someone else will take charge of it later on. Kind of like the actual teacher who comes back, and takes control of the situation.
Aren’t you blowing this a little out of proportion…?
I don’t think so, really. Look, I started going to the gym, I try to dress up every day, take time for my hobbies… But am I really doing it for myself? I might be, but it would feel hypocritical to say that I only do it for myself, honestly. Surely, it’s all stuff that’s good for me, worst case I will improve my health, both mental and physical. But I don’t know, it doesn’t feel good to feel like there is always something missing…
Well, you can’t possibly imagine that being with someone will solve it all… I just told you, right?
Well, yeah, it solves nothing at all!
Here is the one who’s been married for decades. Please, you and your guy are always sunshine and rainbows… You have three kids! If you’re not happy, I don’t know what to believe in anymore.
Look, if that is your motivation to try to get into a relationship, I really recommend you let it go. It wouldn’t work out.
What do you mean, why?
I mean that getting married doesn’t suddenly give meaning to your life and it is most definitely not the key to your own happiness. It took me a while to understand that and it was a conclusion I didn’t get to just by myself. Loving yourself is about doing something only for yourself, inevitably it is that way. You have to listen to yourself to learn how to do it. See, loving yourself means to listen to yourself, to accept yourself and to appreciate yourself. The things we choose to do might be very similar or even the same, but it’s the underlying idea that is completely different. Like, if you joined that acting class with me, you would see that…
Look, if I need to spend money on something I would rather go shopping. And you know I’m not much of a people person.
Yeah, true, really. If you take this one to acting class she will get into arguments with everyone. Let’s go on a vacation together, instead. Or, come with me to the contemporary art museum on Saturday! You need new input, new energy.
No, I need cuddles! Maybe I should book a day at the SPA. Yup, that makes me feel better already. Or maybe I’ll get myself flowers, that always helps.
But, is it enough?
For a while. Enough to get over the 10% of the time I really can’t stand myself.
I take care of that 10% by seeing you girls for breakfast. I definitely wouldn’t love myself if I didn’t have you supporting me! Thanks friends… Okay, cheesy moment over. But it’s true. Good friends help big time.
I know, I know. Why do you think I am here with you now? Knowing you love me just the way I am makes it also possible for ME to love myself as I am. But this takes us back to the starting point: I only feel loved when someone else takes charge of the task of loving me. Will I never be able to do it myself, perhaps?
Oh, you’re such a drama queen. You need time to learn how to love yourself… In the meantime, other activities will be a good substitute. Healthy eating, physical activity and a beauty routine. And coffee with friends!
Mmm ok, as in “someday this pain will be useful for you”!
Kind of…

We had some fun imagining this conversation among friends, somewhere out there in the world. For this Valentine, we wanted to remind you that you should keep a part of the love you give to others for yourself, too, to celebrate who you are, and learn from what is all around you. Friendship is definitely good moral support… So go, and love yourself! 😉

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