I’ve had really great sexuality education on many levels, yet the part of education that rarely gets discussed is mentorship. Often, when I taught my college health courses and we discuss Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, my students will debate whether love and belonging or self-esteem come first on the hierarchy. Inevitably, someone brings up that old adage that tells us “You have to love yourself before anyone else can love you.”
Really? I don’t think it’s nearly that cut and dry. Sometimes we do push people away with our self-hatred or self-love struggles. Yet, I think that sometimes when we are struggling to love ourselves as much as we wish we could, somebody comes into our lives and they love us so fiercely, so big and so wholly, that they teach us how to love ourselves. They become our model for our own self-love.
My first true love was that person for me. Still, to this day I credit him for teaching me how to love. He showed me what was possible in love in a way I’d not yet experienced in my life. My BFF is the most loving person I’ve ever known and she just amazes me with the way she loves me. She has taught me so much of what friendship is about.
Sex is the same way. When we have good lovers, who are deeply giving, who listen to our bodies and respond to our requests and help us to figure out what requests we even want to make, it goes a long way in our becoming a good lover who can have great sex AND who truly loves oneself.
I can teach people a lot of things in my work. Nothing can replace a lover who really shows up and creates love and a sexual life that makes you feel seen and adored, heard and appreciated, happy and fulfilled. A friend who is with you in every moment-good, bad and ugly, loving you all the way. Who doesn’t want that?
We all do. Many of us have it. Some of us want it but aren’t sure it can happen. Others think it will never happen so they turn down the dream. And yes, ultimately, to really receive all of that and to not NEED it, you have to be able to give it to yourself. Then you can really show up in your relationships as that mentor, that exquisite lover that can co-create magic with another human being. I say turn up the dream.
Look at your life and who your sex and love mentors have been. They may have been a parent or teacher or other caretaker, good friends, and often, they were your partners, boyfriends, girlfriends and lovers. I can remember a one-night stand that involved a surprise spanking that opened up a whole world to me that I had no idea existed or that I’d even want to be a part of. Sometimes it happens like that…a short-lived experience that goes a long way in one’s sexual development.
I dedicated my first book to all of my lovers, for each of them have taught me something really important about myself sexually and/or about love. I really meant that, as I thought of each one with grace as I wrote that book. My love for myself is as big as it is, in part, because of each of them. Learning to love oneself is a journey that has ups and downs and lots of lessons along the way. If we all waited until we achieved perfect self-love to let someone else love us, we’d be missing out on a whole lotta love in our lives.
Today take a moment to think of your sex and love mentors and send a prayer of gratitude to them for what they gave you. Those gifts are precious and they really do last forever, even if the relationship doesn’t. Your relationship with YOU is the only one that’s forever.