girl with vitiligo laughing

What Dating with Vitiligo Taught Me about Self-Love

They say that you need to love yourself before you can love someone else. I thought I had, until I broken-heartedly said goodbye to a two-year relationship – and my confidence along with it.

I thought my former partner was the answer to all my prayers – my soulmate. In many ways, I loved him more than I loved myself. So when our two- year relationship failed, it felt like my world was crashing. Looking back, I realized that I could have avoided a lot of that pain if I had practiced self-love during our relationship.

The mistake I made when it came to dating with vitiligo

Before I started dating, I had begun to slowly find the beauty in my skin. At that point, I felt more confident than ever before with my vitiligo. I had made a conscious decision to put my well-being, both emotional and physical, above all else.

All that changed once I started finding comfort in my partner. I associated all my self-worth with our relationship and forgot how to invest and depend on myself and my abilities. Whenever I felt marginalized because of my vitiligo, I always thought to myself, “at least he loves me.” Whenever a new spot appeared or a stranger pointed at me in curiosity, I would express my frustration and fears to him. He always reassured me that I was beautiful and worthy. At the end of the day, I felt that if he was in my corner, I could find the strength to function in this world.

So, when my relationship didn’t work out, it truly broke me. In general, breakups are hard. But every single one of my insecurities was validated when our relationship ended. I was in an incredibly dark place, and it took a lot more effort to rediscover and build off the confidence I had prior to the relationship.

Knowing my worth and practicing self-love today

After the breakup, I had the tedious task of rediscovering who I was and reconnecting to self-love. Today, self-love means being aware of and elevating my wellbeing. In doing so, I practice journaling and yoga and make intentional time for valued friends and family members. Ultimately, I’ve come to understand that there is strength in independence and courage in autonomy.

While reflecting on my past relationship, I wish I had practiced self-love more and that I had the ability to validate myself. I never should have based my value on the way someone else views me. In the end, it was a lot more damaging than it ever was comforting. And in the future, I know to be more intentional in continuing to practice self-love, so I don’t repeat these mistakes.

My word of advice? Being in love is magical. But no matter how much someone else loves you, love yourself harder.

Photo by Medha Iyer.

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Simone Girma

A senior at Syracuse University, Simone Girma is pursuing a dual degree in Television, Radio and Film and Civic Engagement. She’s lived with vitiligo for eight years and has learned how to appreciate the story of her skin – something she aims to share with readers.

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