Michelle Obama's husband may be president of the United States, but the First Lady's no slouch herself. During her time in the White House, Michelle has inspired a nation with her candid rhetoric and hands-on approach to making the change she and her husband so passionately champion. She's been on the cover of magazines, she's been interviewed by the biggest names on TV, and she's traveled across the country advocating her Let's Move! youth weight-loss campaign. One often overlooked aspect of the First Lady, however, is her sage advice on love and relationships! As a mother of two girls, Malia (15), and Sasha (12), and wife of 22 years to the man she calls "the love of my life," Michelle's got a lot of meaningful experience to back up her words.
Since it's her birthday — and the big 5-0 at that — we thought we'd take a minute to recognize Michelle's often overlooked insight into the much-scrutinized world of love. Without further ado, may we present to you our favorite love quotes from the First Lady.
1. On true love: "Cute's good. But cute only lasts for so long, and then it's, 'Who are you as a person?' That's the advice I would give to women: Don't look at the bankbook or the title. Look at the heart. Look at the soul. Look at how the guy treats his mother and what he says about women. How he acts with children he doesn't know. And, more important, how does he treat you? When you're dating a man, you should always feel good. You should never feel less than. You should never doubt yourself. You shouldn't be in a relationship with somebody who doesn't make you completely happy and make you feel whole. And if you're in that relationship and you're dating, then my advice is, don't get married."
2. On health and womanhood: "I have freed myself to put me on the priority list and say, yes, I can make choices that make me happy, and it will ripple and benefit my kids, my husband, and my physical health. That's hard for women to own; we're not taught to do that. It's a lesson that I want to teach my girls so they don't wait for their 'aha' moment until they're in their 30s like I was (laughs). Maybe they can experience it a little earlier."
3. On her husband Barack Obama: "So when people ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character, and his convictions, and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago ... And I didn't think it was possible, but today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago ... even more than I did 23 years ago, when we first met. I love that he's never forgotten how he started."
4. "One of the things that attracted me to Barack was his emotional honesty. Right off the bat, he said what he felt. There are no games with him — he is who he appears to be. I feel fortunate as a woman to have a husband who loves me and shows me in every way."
5. "[Barack and my] relationship was first a friendship. It took off from there."
6. On a parent's love: "Having that sense of security allows you to take risks. People think that it comes from wealth or generations of access and success, but it doesn't. The security of your parents' love really gives you the foundation to think that you can fly. And then you do."
7. On healthy versus unhealthy relationships: "Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts ... good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don't hurt. They're not painful. That's not just with somebody you want to marry, but it's with the friends that you choose. It's with the people you surround yourselves with."
8. On friendships: "We should always have three friends in our lives-one who walks ahead who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we've cleared the way."
9. On being a mom: "My most important title is still 'mom-in-chief.' My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world."
10. On loving yourself: "One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don't invest any energy in them, because I know who I am."
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