“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself” ~ Steve Maraboli
There’s a scene in the movie “Runaway Bride” where Richard Gere asks Julia Roberts, “How do you like your eggs?”
Reticent, she answers, “Whatever you’re having.”
This scene always stuck with me because it shows us how Maggie, played by Roberts, doesn’t know what she likes. She is used to having her eggs cooked the same way the man she is with is having them.
If we ask ourselves today, “How do I like my eggs?” can we get an authentic answer that reflects what we truly like?
I wasn’t capable of answering this question more than two years ago. I basically laughed at the notion of “You can’t love someone else before loving yourself,” until I experienced the consequences of trying to do so.
We’ve become accustomed to the cycle of entering a partnership, then ending it, only to start a new one again. We end a relationship thoroughly oblivious to the real cause of its annihilation. We are bombarded with messages of, “There’s plenty of fish in the sea,” so we go back to fishing and miss the point of all of this:
The period of self-reflection.
This is when we allow self-growth to take place. It’s a time to discover ourselves, what we like, what we love, what we hate, what we accept and what we don’t. It’s the period of realizing what we deserve, accept and value.
It’s the period when we learn more about ourselves and can decide “how we like our eggs.”
While I’m still on this path of self-reflection, I’ve come to a few realizations that have helped me grow in love toward myself. I was lucky enough to have one particular relationship that proved to me how loving myself first helps to build an auspicious connection with someone else. I’ve also experienced a relationship where I haven’t loved myself enough—and that one was a difficult ride.
So what happens when we pursue a romantic relationship prior to building a loving relationship with ourselves?
In my experience, these are some of the consequences of entering a relationship without a strong foundation of self-love.
1. We accept suffering.
When we love ourselves, we don’t allow ourselves to linger in painful and unhappy situations. I’ve realized that distancing ourselves from toxic people who generate suffering is the first step toward authentic self-love. If we don’t value ourselves enough, we stay with partners who don’t lift us up—we accept the agony they cause.
2. We indirectly punish our partner for our past traumas.
Loving ourselves also means forgiving ourselves for the mistakes we have made and the traumas we have lived through. It is about believing that we are not the same person we were yesterday. It is about accepting our past the way it was. If we haven’t yet worked on loving ourselves, it means we also haven’t worked on forgiving our past. This makes it more likely that our current partner will pay for our past traumas. We will indirectly punish them with anger, blame, jealousy and threats.
3. We feel guilty for mistakes we haven’t made.
Self-love means self-awareness. It is about knowing our opinions, beliefs and behaviors so we don’t take the blame for other people’s mistakes. In a relationship where we haven’t grown love for ourselves, we are prone to take responsibility for our partner’s mistakes without even realizing it.
4. We make the other person feel guilty.
It’s a double-edged sword. Not only will we feel guilty when we don’t love ourselves, but we also tend to make our partner feel guilty too. By not cultivating self-love, we generate irresponsibility and thus, we don’t own up to our own part of the problem.
5. We need constant attention and love.
It’s simple. When there’s no self-love, there is something lacking in ourselves and in our lives. The easiest way to fill this missing space is through our partner. Hence, we start requiring more attention and love than this person can give. However, when we love ourselves, we respect the capacity of love that our partner can give. We also find productive ways to fill this space, like activities, hobbies and alone time.
6. We give more than we are given.
When we expect more love from others, we start to give more than we can or should, simply so we can receive more. Sadly, this can cause some partners to take us for granted. In order for balance to be created in a relationship, there should be equal giving and receiving. But to consciously give, it is important to love ourselves enough—once we do, we can love abundantly, without expecting more in return.
7. We dismiss our own identity.
It can be quite hazardous for a partnership when one person doesn’t know what they like. A relationship is about joining two lifestyles together, learning from each other instead of just following each other around. But if we only order what our partner is having or watch the movies they like or go to the places they go, we end up growing the same kind of opinions as them. When we don’t love ourselves, there is no balance. Rather, there will be unwanted attachments and neediness that pushes our partner away and causes us to become submissive.
8. We create an unrealistic image of our partner.
Here’s the thing: anyone who doesn’t love themselves enough will subconsciously draw an image of “the one” in their mind. When we don’t love ourselves, we expect our partner to conform to this image, but when we do love ourselves, we become “the one” that we wish to see in our partner. We learn that our light is bright enough to reflect upon theirs. Once we can act like mirrors in our relationships, we are able to learn from each other and become the best versions of ourselves.
I had to learn the hard way to love myself before loving anyone else. Finding yourself from the start is much easier than finding yourself once you’ve lost yourself in a relationship.
Because not loving ourselves will eventually cost us to lose ourselves.
So let’s hit the kitchen and figure out exactly how we like our eggs. Once we do, we will attract the partner who will love the best version we have created of ourselves.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Nicole Cameron