Unpopular Opinion: You Do Not Need to Love Yourself in Order to Love Someone Else
I’m going to preface this with a disclaimer: self-love is very important to a healthy life. If you are not comfortable with who you are, you’re most likely going to live a life you do not like.
However, the idea that you have to fully love yourself before you can love someone else is a toxic idea. It’s a saying created by people who have read too many self help books, and it can be something to hide behind when you’re too afraid to put yourself out there. This saying instills fear into people, and they begin to dig moats instead of building bridges.
This preaching is filled with shame; it gives the impression that if you don’t love yourself fully then you aren’t good enough, and therefore, no one would want to be with you anyways. It sets you up to try to reach an unattainable goal. It is a process that has no finish line and no congratulations when you feel it is completed.
A relationship with yourself is no different than a relationship with someone else; it has its ups and down and requires daily attention to keep it going. It changes as you change, and the circumstances surrounding you change.
No matter how much you work on making yourself your “ideal you”, or how far you’ve come, there are still going to be days when you don’t feel love for yourself. This can be due to a variety of reasons: you may feel bloated, had someone at work belittle you, or simply woke up in a bad mood. You may be nicer to yourself, you may no longer hate yourself but we all have our moments of regression. We have our own stories and those stories come with traumas. Our stories have caused imprints and scars and no one enters adulthood unscarred.
Instead, you should see loving yourself as an everyday activity, not unlike your choices from what you chose to eat to who you decide to love and surround yourself. Loving yourself is not a bar to measure yourself against before getting into a relationship.
The important thing is that you like yourself. That is the constant. When you get to a place where you like yourself, the act of loving yourself will come gradually, naturally. You’ll have deal breakers. You won’t tolerate certain behaviors from others. You’ll seek less approval. Your friendships will feel less one-sided. You’ll give yourself a break. Gradually, your relationship with yourself will improve.
We learn to love ourselves through people, through the relationships we have with them.
Someone else loving you will always feel more meaningful than you loving yourself. It is always easier to love someone else than it is to love ourselves, no matter how much work we’ve done. You would do so much more for your parents, siblings, family, friends than you would do for yourself. When we experience healthy love back, someone treating us like we are valuable, have worth, without judgement or conditions, we learn to treat ourselves that way.
You do not need to love yourself to love someone else but liking yourself is essential. When you like yourself you make healthier choices and create a space that promotes self-love.