"Let me love [me]."

"If I had this job, then everything would fall into place." "If I lived in that city, then I would be happy." "If I lost a few pounds, then I would be confident."

Who hasn't gotten caught in this type of pattern of thinking: if one thing happens then your life would be better somehow?

There's nothing wrong with the"if" half of these statements--wanting a certain job, wanting to live in a specific place, or even wanting to lose a little bit of weight. The problem in these pairings is the idea that the "if" half will totally and unconditionally result in the "then" half. Maybe you get that amazing job but you have to work with a colleague who drives you crazy. Maybe the charms of that city you adored fade because visiting that place on vacation and actually living there are two totally different experiences. Maybe those extra pounds aren't the real reason why your self-esteem is a little weak.

Last night, I was going through the motions of thinking, "If I were in a relationship with somebody who loves me, then I would love myself." For nearly half of my fairly young life, I've spent more time in some sort of committed relationship than out of one, the longest at six years and the shortest at six months. Even when I wasn't in a relationship per se, there was someone waiting in the wings or lingering in my mind as a not-too-remote possibility. The not-too-remote possibility was, more often than not, physically remote.

The truth is, every relationship I entered--irrespective of the person I dated--was from a place of self-doubt. Looking back, subconsciously I believed I wasn't enough and needed to have someone to "complete" me, "validate" me, or "fix" me. When pining after someone who didn't know I cared or lived at a distance, I guaranteed a sense of emptiness for myself, my operative logic being, "I can't have him, so I can never be whole." That said:

I'd be lying if I said I didn't wan't somebody in my life. Or some body.

I'd be lying if I didn't say there are people I still occasionally pine for, conveniently outside of Boston, even though I know all the ways they're not right for me.

I'd be lying if I didn't say I feel lonely about half the time I come home to my empty apartment and go to sleep alone.

But I'd also be lying if I didn't say that part of me is grateful for not being in a relationship, because the most progress I've made in loving myself and in having a more fulfilling life has come when single and putting myself first.

That's not to say I'm not dating--I went on two dates last week. While they were highly mediocre in every other way, they were on my own terms, coming from a place of power and choice, and with some sense of what I do want, but with full knowledge of what I don't.

The truth is, I don't want to be in a relationship. I want to be in the relationship. The very best one. One that lifts my heart and fills my soul all day, every day, for the rest of my life.

The truth is, the only kind of relationship that's guaranteed to last that long and serve me so fully is the one with myself. And every day it gets easier to change the story I've told myself for years about my self-worth and believe instead, "I truly love myself, and one day, I will find the relationship and partnership that is worthy of me."