Dating : Summer love cleanse

h2>Dating : Summer love cleanse

Art by Caitlin Roark

Summer is finally here. Chicago winters make it seem impossible to ever get back to this time of hazy afternoons and patio sipping nights. But we made it (barely).

I’m starting this summer with a cleanse. Not the type that you buy into after your flurry of bad decisions, vodka sodas and Tacobell nacho fry boxes 2 nights in a row. The cleanse I’m talking about is when you’re moving and go to throw out a bodhisattva statue that your ex (/love of your life) gave you 3 years ago with the hopes of it someday residing in our shared home, but your neighbor stops you and says they will “cleanse it” and keep it safe.

It’s a cleanse that slowly removes the toxic feelings that have sunk so deep into your skin it feels viral. A love cleanse — to extract unhealthy love from your life (and skin) and return you unblemished and openhearted.

I had been seeing a guy for a year — one whole circle around the sun — and yet we were still saying it was casual. We hung out most days during most weeks and soon he was meeting family and close friends. But it was still “casual”. Until it wasn’t. New Years Day we decided to finally make it official. I ignored the vastly empty feeling in my stomach where butterflies usually swirled after I took any sort of step towards love. They were unmoved.

Our relationship moved along as signs of winter (hardly) started to melt away into spring. I read Katie Hood’s The difference between unhealthy and healthy love and was shocked by the realization that my partner and I had a very unhealthy love.

She outlines intensity, isolation, extreme jealousy, belittlement, and volatility as her 5 signs.

My partner showed a solid 4. From feeling “neglected” due to my lack of texting during my teaching job of 34 first graders, to intrusively reading my journal just a month into the official relationship, to “showing up” in a borrowed car in search of me and a male friend while we finished up drinks.

I took pride in resolutely knowing that I would never be That Girl who made excuses for her partner’s borderline abuses. But instead, I ignored warning signs and let him talk in exhaustive circles until I had convinced myself that “the next time would be the last straw”…I owe you one, Katie Hood.

I ended it fast and for good and I could not be more relieved. Which leads me to this mini summer love cleanse guide:

1. Read Katie Hood’s TED talk

Click here.

2. Identify unhealthy relationships (romantic and otherwise)

Which ones demonstrate some of those toxic natures? Go through each one with a fine tooth comb and see how many empty calories and cancerous properties they have (there should be a nutrition guide attached to some people).

3. Remove with finality

No grey area — say that you do not want to see or speak to them any longer. The toxic energy is draining, exhaustive, and potentially dangerous. You deserve a heart free from sludge and skin unshadowed.

4. Replace and infuse with healthy love

YOU! What are things you love to do, learn, see, say? Bring these to the forefront (e.g. I love to write and had given myself ZERO time to do so). Put them in your Google calendar if you have to. This step is about replacing the toxicity with nourishment.

5. Go to things alone

Shows, museums, parks, coffee shops, walks — try dates with just you. Mute your phone and leave the panic that every outing must be captured on IG or it didn’t exist. Admitting you are one whole person and you are completely enough without anyone else coming to be your “other half” (trash).

6. Give yourself a break from the “love hunt”

If you’re on The Apps, sign out for awhile. If your family is recruiting every (even slightly) eligible partner from the crevices of your local WalMart tell them to STOP. And don’t go to bars with your people for the sole purpose of finding The One (or even The One-Night-Stand).

Go out to be out with no agenda and a full monitor on your heart and the energy it is receiving from your chosen family (and that cocktail or two). Go home and do something meaningful with family that doesn’t involve plotting out all your shortcomings (if family can’t do this then maybe take a break from home too). Be online and social media to find power and rejuvenating vibes from a new publication or influencer that breathes healing and growth (@Sophia Roe became mine!). Breathe in the knowledge that you are finally free.

Just like our bodies, our hearts sometimes need a love cleanse. Be gentle, loving and patient.

Your heart is yours before it’s anyone else’s.

What do you think?

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