How My Relationship Has Inspired Me to Be a Better Woman

I know what you're thinking: another story about a woman needing a man and not being able to handle life without him.

Not what you're going to read here.

In case you haven't read anything else I've written, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Emily. I'm no-nonsense. I don't like feelings and pretend not to have any. I'm enthusiastic and happy. I hustle — hard. I had a string of bad relationships, went through a divorce from my high school sweetheart, and have come out on the other side. I own a home and have even kept a dog alive (and spoiled!) for more than five years. I have played Beyoncé's "Formation" on repeat and called myself a badass in the rearview mirror on the way to work. I was a bit jaded about men and relationships. So much so that a male friend of mine told me that I should probably soften up on the tough-girl act (it wasn't an act).

Then, I met someone who changed my life. But here's the thing: he changed my life, but he doesn't define my life. I want him, but I don't need him, which is probably more powerful.

The relationship that I am lucky enough to be in has enhanced some of my best qualities through the way he really (really, really) likes me. Not only that, but it has also taught me how to help those qualities shine when he's not around.

Every woman needs to stand on her own two feet and not be swept off of them. So, find someone who can hold you down. Here's why I'm glad I found a man who does just that.

He's Supportive

Find a man who will support your goals, no matter how big or small. For example, I recently did a round of Whole30. My boyfriend put off his birthday dinner so that I could partake in the eating of the delicious food and the drinking of the wine. He didn't want me to ruin my diet on day 21 of 30, even though I already went into it knowing it was going to be a cheat night.

When I'm on a mission — no matter what it is — he is my biggest cheerleader. Now, if I could get him to SoulCycle . . .

He Makes Me Feel Beautiful

Not hot. Not cute. Not Adorable. Beautiful. And it doesn't matter if I'm in the shower with my hair in a messy bun and my eyeliner streaming down my face or dressed for a wedding. He is quick with a compliment about the color of my dress or the way he has noticed my frame shrinking — but never in an off-the-cuff way. He is thoughtful and kind about what he says and how he says it. I love the way he says, "Look at you," with a huge smile on his face, when he sees me in something new. The same way I love how he wraps me up and kisses me when I'm in the world's worst pajamas. It has raised my confidence level immensely, even though it probably wasn't warranted.

You are worth always feeling beautiful — not any other derivative of the word — no matter what state you're in, no matter what your body looks like or how you feel about it. The right person will make you feel it and they won't even know.

He Calms My Storm

I have to make about 10,000 decisions on a daily basis. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating, but between work, my extracurriculars, the latest diet, the dog, the house, dinner plans, and the bills, it's a lot to handle in a day. He pays attention to this and knows exactly what to say or what to do to make me feel calm. He isn't afraid to address my "crazy," as other men have been, and by doing that he is actually able to diffuse it. Don't forget how powerful peaceful confrontation can be. He has made me mindful of the fact that I'm spinning a bit and that it's time to right myself.

He Makes Me Laugh

So hard. All the time. Over the most ridiculous things. Sometimes he tries. Sometimes it's just his delivery. But I swear I could be annoyed at him one minute and the next I'm laughing. But this laughter does more for me and extends far beyond the moment. It reminds me to be joyful and mindful of that joy. And by me being joyful, he will be even more joyful. See how that works? I am a more relaxed person in general, and I believe this is the culprit. Never underestimate how important it is to laugh with each other. Any person who can make you laugh the way he makes me laugh is a keeper.

He's Teaching Me Patience

I forgot to mention before that I also like control. Before I met him, I had been single long enough to take control of everything in my life and do it on my timetable. Honestly, I did that before I was single. But he is teaching me that all good things are worth the wait. While there does need to be a hard stop on how long that wait is, there should not be any rush.

I Want Him to Be Happy

Our relationship is complicated, to say the least. But whatever the outcome is between us, I just want him to be happy. Whether it is with me or not, he reminded me what I am worth. And it's a lot more than I remembered.