You’ve heard it over and over, again and again:
“You have to love yourself before someone else will love you…” or
“Only when you can fully accept yourself will another person be able to…” or
“After I’m happy with myself, then I’ll be ready for a romantic relationship…”
And it’s simply NOT true! In fact, it’s total bullshit. Here’s why:
While it’s important to like who we are, so that others can like us, it’s unrealistic to love ourselves in order for another person to love us.
In fact, we humans only learn how to like or love ourselves through relationship. A baby doesn’t come into the world loving itself. It learns and becomes a self through attachment with another human being.
So, reaching the mountain top of self-love is a fantasy! This common new age myth will set you up to be forever single because you’re a work in progress for the rest of your life. There is no summit to self-love. Self-love is an evolving process for the rest of your life. How? Because anytime you are triggered by another human being, that is the exact spot you are not loving yourself. That’s why you’re so triggered!
Everyone has challenges with self-love – everyone. And anyone who doesn’t or says they don’t is likely fooling themselves, in denial, or unconscious to this reality. Relationships actually help you see where you lack self-love so that you can work on it. That’s part of the whole idea and the point.
So the person who you choose to be in an intimate, loving relationship with actually shows you (indirectly of course) how to love yourself – reflecting the places you can’t clearly see.
The “love yourself first” message is a setup, even though it’s been perpetuated in new age psychology circles for years. It (falsely) suggests that there’s a finish line or some attainable goal you have to meet before you’re worthy to receive love – or be in a relationship – and that once you reach that goal, or get in that relationship, you’re done. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You do not need to reach a certain point before deserving to be loved or cared for. Every version and part of you deserves to be loved.
If we all waited until we felt proficient at self-love or being “happy” before entering into a romantic relationship, we’d be alone forever. Because everyone has wounds and disowned parts that they’re never going to be totally okay with, and it’s actually through relationship where another person loving you can be a huge boon to revealing and healing those parts.
Relationship actually moves self-love faster along its path because it confronts the places you don’t love yourself or care about yourself or doubt yourself or have disowned in yourself.
This is not to say that you don’t want to address your issues or the stuff that comes up around self-worth BEFORE you get into a new relationship. By all means, attend to those places in yourself. As long as you remember that self-love is a continuum not a fixed state. It’s totally natural that sometimes you will feel more lovable than others or more challenged than others. So you can relax, knowing that it’s a journey and a practice, learning to ride the waves as they come, and eventually embrace the vast ocean that is you.
So please, don’t subscribe to this tired advice of getting to “happy” before being in a relationship. You’re worthy of love right now.
Learn more about how relationships really work by joining The Relationship School’s® next Deep Psychology of Intimate Relationships class, and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule time to talk with one of our Student Growth Liaisons. Classes start soon! OR just download our Relationship Scorecard and see how well, or poorly, you do relationship.
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