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:
You can watch the full video here and listen to the podcast. to find out more.
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 [email protected] 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.
Photo credit: Ashim D’Silva, Unsplash
You might also like: The New Age Bullshit Of Just Love Yourself
Thats a 50 lb boulder lifted off me! THANK YOU!
People: you have to be happy with yourself before you can be happy with someone else.
Me: Oh..I thought I was happy. So..because I want to share all my inside stuff, I’m not happy?
People: Right. If you are happy with you, you wont need anyone else and if you find someone it will be icing on the cake.
Me ; So why do people who are happy with themselves get in relationships? They should be content to be with themselves. Yes?
People: well it’s just icing!
Me: my cake’s got icing already! Its so good i just want to share it with someone. Wanting to be with someone does not mean you are unhappy with yourself!
Again…thank you thank you. I was beginning to think i was nuts! ?
Nope! You’re not a baby. And yes, you have to socialize, learn to relate to others/gain insight into yourself BUT …. you can’t enter into relationship until you can float your own boat RESPONSIBlY. I am not in this world to complete you or vice versa. Two halves don’t make a whole. They multiply, not add. Do the math. 1×1
Yeah but define “complete” What is float your own boat?? I’m surprised the author did not respond to this – because this is the weak vague comeback everyone comes up with!
That’s the problem when this “love yourself first” advice is taken too seriously. People are always growing, and often times in a relationship.
Granted it’s good not to be too needy. But to often these ridiculous generalizations/rules for relationships are total bs. You either value the person, the relationship, and the meaning of it all or you don’t.
thanks for sharing your experience Fleur, and for listening =)
This is one of the best articles I have read in a long time. I felt this way but thought I was wrong for feeling this way. Hallelujah and thank you so much!
I Love you, for writing this! I as a 40 year old woman who’s been divorced have been trying to rid myself of this BS idea that we all have to be able to move mountains for our loved ones and they need to reciprocate that for us to feel like we’re with the “right” person! I am not sure who put this idea of “Love” in my head, but thank you for helping me in my journey, your post makes so much more sense than the BS I’ve read. It is good to love yourself, but if you don’t love certain parts it does not make the parts themselves unlovable! I promise to be thankful for what I do have, which is a boyfriend who gave me a chance to love him (even the parts he doesn’t) and his kid! It only sucks when I get this idea in my head that everyone else has figured out this “love” thing but me.
hi Shala, glad to hear it’s landing and that you’re in a healthy and happy relationships. Thanks for sharing and listening =)
Thank you – this needs to be a national broadcast. Healing only happens through relelationship. The pickle is always picking the same person, different face, and how to break out of that tendency. I lucked out and found a truly gifted therapist, older male. “Psychodynamic” he called it, I called it “Attachment therapy.” He had to have skin in the game, and that’s a huge “no-no” for trained therapists with their own shadows and issues. (I’ve been projected upon more times than I like to admit – because I STAYED – so that’s telling you something). I had to quit after 5 years (!!!) and still have so much unresolved ‘stuff’. But I learned things “normal people” take for granted perhaps. Things like boundaries, communicating about a session that was like a “fight” – he reacted (he rarely did, I have that hypervigilance and notice when a mere lower eyelid flickers!) and I flew out of there!!! Then somehow “forgot” the following appointment (serious subconscious stuff at play – in addition to a degrading cognitive immune condition that has me now on full medical disability). But he persisted, told me 3-4 weeks in advance of when he would be taking time off (kid gloves for abandonment triggers I think – or that’s how real people do it?), not dropping ‘hot’ issues, slowing me down because I was subtly changing the subject. The only reason I was aware of all this is that I had a fairly strong meditation practice at the time. I’d notice when I was answering his questions about what came up in me regarding (some incorrect assumption he made – he’s human) and I’d respond something about being mad at someone during a week-long meditation retreat. So I was angry, but didn’t have access to it and so talked about other instances when I was angry. Weird mind stuff like that becomes available to patients in therapy who develop a strong capacity in awareness and cultivate an attitude of curiosity. I had to quit because of disability (couldn’t afford it anymore) but I think I learned what this thing called “trust” might look like, and when I feel “yuck” with someone’s approach, to investigate that and not mentally check out and go home with them, the martyr-victim 😉 (I own it now! And wow do I see it in my mom. But she did the best she could with what she had – which wasn’t much.) 44, single, lost everything, on disability… Not really dating material. Not to mention I was beyond triggered with your porn talk – having co-purchased a house with a violent porn addict. That got all twisted up in my head and I’ll probably just create a self-fulfilling prophecy if I were to meet another man of different caliber.
But yah – we are attracted to what we repress and then project unknowingly.
Then there’s that stoopid ‘chemistry’ thing w/ phermones/DNA match, or an astrological match (both applied for another hard 1.5 + 3 year lesson!
hi Courtney, thank you so much for sharing all that. It seems you’ve done quite a bit of work and developed a strong reflective capacity. Thanks for listening and sharing and relating, it means a lot not just to me but I imagine anyone reading these comments. Also, apologies for the late reply. -Meg