Stop Telling Single Women to Love Themselves First.

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“Lauren, you need to love yourself first before anyone else can love you.”

Every time I hear this line from someone or see it on some inspirational Instagram post, I scream inside. I usually drop some F-bombs as well.

Seriously, f*ck you.

It always makes me think back to a friend of mine who is now married to the same person she has been with since she was 18 years old. She constantly gave me this message. She has never dated. She has never experienced rejection. She has never had her heart broken by men who decide they don’t want commitment, or men who lose interest for no good reason. She has always been safe and secure in her relationship with that one man.

But I find that these are often the exact people spouting this bullsh*t advice that I need to love myself more, every time I lament about my perpetually single status.

I know they mean well. I really do.

However, my question is this—do they even know what “love yourself” means?

Why do so many women tell other women that they need to do this in order for someone to find them worthy of love and compassion? Where and when did that start? And why don’t we give this same advice to men who run away at the first sight of a relationship challenge?

I think many of us interpret it as needing to fix ourselves first, which can be an extremely hurtful message. In the beginning of my singlehood, I would agree that there were definitely things I needed to fix. I needed to learn that I was strong and that I could fight for myself. I needed to learn that no matter what, I would be okay. I needed to learn that I had an identity outside of a relationship, and that it was a damned good one.

But several years later, after doing all this work on my mind, body, and soul, I am still single. So what gives? Do I still not “love myself” enough?

I’ve traveled the world, I’ve practiced thousands of hours of yoga, I’ve left a job that sucked the life out of me, I’ve tightened my circle of friends to only those who truly love me, I’ve bought a condo, I’ve been to therapy, I’ve gotten a dog, I’ve hired life coaches—and I am still single. And lonely. And beyond frustrated.

Can we change the message, please? Can we remove this idea that there is something wrong with single women who continue to have poor success with finding a life partner? Can we remove the idea that we don’t value ourselves enough?

Maybe the men we meet don’t stack up to us. Maybe they have issues of their own. Maybe our timing has been off. Maybe we’ve simply just had bad luck.

However, I do want to try to define this notion, since the message is so prevalent. When I really give it some thought, I think loving ourselves is this (and I still cringe at the phrase, by the way): eating well, exercising, pushing away negative thoughts, keeping good people in our lives, parting ways with those who devalue us, and being clear with potential partners on what we’re looking for and how we want to be treated.

But it’s hard to fit that into an Instagram post, I know. So we diminish it to those meaningless few words, and the person on the receiving end is supposed to all of a sudden be enlightened (or in my case, get incredibly frustrated and drop F-bombs).

So to the women out there who are still searching for love, like me, hear this: we are enough just as we are. We don’t need fixing. We don’t need healers and shamans. We don’t need to climb Mount Everest or attend silent yoga retreats to find ourselves. There are plenty of women who haven’t done any of that and are in great relationships. We just haven’t met the right man, at the right time—yet.

But the more we care for and look out for ourselves, the better positioned we’ll be when he comes along.


Relephant Read: 

I’m Only Awesome When I’m Single.

Do we Really Learn More when we are Single?

Author: Lauren Collinson 
Image: Used with permission via Alisia Gonzalez/Bodhi Imaging
Editor: Emily Bartran
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton

Social Editor: Catherine Monkman 

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Lauren Collinson

Lauren Collinson is a yogi and cyclist, living in Boston with her cocker spaniel. She writes about dating, travel, mental illness, her dog, and anything else that fires her up inside. She is always thinking about her next meal and next international trip. Catch up with Lauren on Instagram.

Janet Barbieri Oct 17, 2018 6:16pm

This is the first time I have agreed so strongly with an article. I am so tired of hearing that when I love myself enough the right man will pop up and sweep me away. And I also dislike being told " my picker is broken". How about that men cant commit or be honest and its hard to weed thru and find the good ones.

Irene Chávez Oct 12, 2018 7:24am

Like!!! Few weeks ago (after my younger brother’s wedding) I wrote this on my Facebook : You know how they always tell you “Love yourself more”, “You need to appreciate who you are”, “Take care of yourself” and so on… followed by “that will help you attract the right people to your experience”, “meet the right partner” bla bla bla. So “Yeah”, I thought every time. “I love myself but I will try to love myself more”. Then I was like “How dude, I mean really, How?!?! In practical, tangible ways HOW do you love yourself MORE?!?! What does that even mean “more”? What am I supposed to be doing "more"?” Any ways, so yeah, I did (and am doing) a lot of things to “love myself more” like taking care of me first, meditate, exercise, eat better, read self-help books (and put them into practice of course), be a better person, help others, smile, pamper myself bla bla bla. Not only that! May you know! I recognize the fact that I am beautiful, smart, a good person, a good woman, bla bla bla. And! Also, I have done tones of hours of therapy to heal myself, to let go of my fears, my traumas, my past, my ego, my unconscious annoying behaviors bla bla bla. It’s been a long ride. So, there I was, last week, seated in a table doing some calligraphy and having a nice conversation with the sweetest lady (who was kneading), when she goes “So how come such a nice lady like you is still single”. Oh crap! Here we go again. THE question, again! “Well”, I said, “I wish I could answer that but I guess we will both have to ask the Universe for an answer”. Then I went on giving some details about my romantic life. She concluded: “you need to love yourself more”. Ugh. Here.we.go.again. “Yes, I said. I know. I do a lot of things about THAT, I even go to therapy a lot”. Very kindly she responded to that tiny little detail with: “Why do you think you still need therapy?” o.o Ha! Wow. It hit me. That simple question opened my eyes beyond words. “Why do I think I still need therapy?” … “Damn! Because I still think there is something WRONG with me. Which means that I am judging myself negatively AND that I am not accepting myself as I AM. Which also means, THAT I AM NOT LOVING MYSELF, pe.ri.od.” Jesus! Hahaha so simple! A Course in Miracles says numerous times that to forgive yourself and the world “you need do nothing”. Meaning: Just accept the fact that this is a world of illusion and that GOD created you perfect. You need to change nothing but your mind and the perception you have of yourself and the world. Love yourself, Your Higher Self, as you are! The rest are just personality traits that have nothing to do with You! Any ways. Love yourself. You need do nothing. I feel so relieved.

Lara Maier Sep 7, 2018 4:15am

I love how you tie Instagram into this, haha! And that last bit—quotable! x

Chellsie Nicole Sep 5, 2018 3:53pm

No you shouldn't love yourself you should love God and build a relationship with your creator and believe in him that he has a plan for you that will fall into place. How can anything fall into place with out God. What is Love? And not a worldly love but true love? Because God is love. With out God you have no love to begin with.

Phillip Oorjitham Sep 5, 2018 11:17am

well said :)

DM Phillips Sep 5, 2018 4:43am

I’ve been through the up since and downs of marriage, separation and divorce. And after all that have not found a man willing to simply be on the same path as me. It’s disheatening but I do love myself and know one can tell me that I don’t. I have been through more life experiences than anyone and that still hasn’t brought anyone who is willing to stay in my life to me door step. And I am honestly getting on with my life.

Amy Dawn S Sep 5, 2018 4:15am

Perfect. Someone finally spoke about it. Although I’m an advocate for self love I completely ageee with everything you’ve stated here. My self love practice is for me. No one else. It doesn’t make me more or less worthy of a harmonious partnership. So so good. Thank you.

Caroline Abdouche Sep 4, 2018 12:34pm

I gave someone this advice once. But didn't mean it in the way you describe it. A close friend was physically sick and I believe that her psychological state was affecting her body. That friend once told me in tears " I know I'll heal and feel better when I meet someone. I just need someone in my life". This is when I had to say that famous phrase "You need to fix yourself and love yourself before finding the right guy" Not because the right guy doesn't deserve her in that state, screw that! But because if you're "broken" and ure waiting for someone to "fix you" then you will become dependent of that person and if for whatever reason you guys break up, it'll be Hell for you and you'll go back to square one. Plus most guys would be too afraid to date a "broken" person. But if you're in a good place and do go through a dating period followed by a break-up, then you have a good place to go back to. That's how I would mean it if I say that phrase again.

Holly Danner Sep 2, 2018 3:49am

Finally! Someone says exactly what I feel about that stupid phrase! Thank you!

Lizette Alvarez Aug 25, 2018 2:39am

I believe that.. When people tells to love yourself does not mean that you do not have any value for yourself and it does not mean that there is something wrong with you, it only means that when you really love yourself you will feel full with everything you have and everything you have done and maybe just maybe you wont feel frustrated or lonely, your attention will come out from the lack and the need of a couple ... and maybe it even appears. Maybe we need to hear better the message about what it really means to love oneself ... you said "we are enough as we are" and if we do not hear that when listening to the phrase love yourself and we hear something else that bothers us, then yes there must be something that must be worked .. So I say do not stop telling single women and married women and all women to love themselves first and second, and always!

Paulo Raposo Aug 23, 2018 2:40pm

Maybe we need to catch up Lauren... Truth is people will always be saying things...especially nowadays...where it's nearly impossible to find someone who listens to you. They want to be quick to tell you the things they just read on an article...or learned on the latest yoga retreat... We live in weird times indeed. What I want to tell to those people is basically what you wrote..."seriously...fuck you" but I know to much psychology to do so. I understand the reasons behind what they say...and actually feel sorry for people who speak on a "paid lip service mode"...

Coreen McConaughy Aug 5, 2018 10:38am

Omg! Amen you read m mind! Thank you!

Ashley Blackwell Aug 3, 2018 8:02am

Lauren. Brilliant. Just what I needed to read and hear. Thanks. I’m totally with you on this one and you’ve articulated it so well 😊

Hady Hamouda Aug 2, 2018 2:06pm

You geys there in the west made it so complicated to yourselves. It is far more than just what the author is talking about now although it was supposed to be much simplier. Western civilization created lots of idividualists and people who live for their own pleasures which greatly damaged the values the collective and family institution. 2. The extra ethical and moral liberalism resulted in suppressing the biological norms and moderate phsychological human behaviours and mannars resulting in a social malfunction which is turning to a total loss of abilities of the society and the deteriorating demographic situation is a great proof for that wondering why the western nationalists and extremists are against the immigrants that the western economies still need. The same issue also resulted in the introduction of social groups, with a culture to spread, who are not interested in (and incapable of ) the biological reproduction which forms the basis for a long term stable workable relationship btween a male and female although it is not the only reason. 3. The total replacement of any idea about God (not talking about Church or any god or relagion the reader might think about and of its stereotypes but about finding the right true God among those many gods and religions we have nowadays... or the crucial irrevocable proof that God doesn't exist after a serious attempt to find Him), chastity, faithfulness and many other forgotten values by the consumerism, money, pleasures and false ideas about success and now, how pitty, all of that is crumbling gradually and strangling people with one economic crisis after another, inflation, rising prices and taxes, less opportunities, more poverty and the concentration of wealth in few pockets and it is getting worse and worse. 4. The western double standards or multistandard systems (morally, politically, etc). 5. the domination of the capitalist and the "elite" who dectate the rules and people follow blindly which finally fills the pockets of those "elite" and enslaves all of us under the name of beauty, self confedence, lebral ideas...etc while the ultimate winner (as they may think or narrow minded people may think) is them and the ultimate loser is us. 6. The worng treatments either by the complete withdrawal to silent yogas, as the author mentioned and monkshood which is the other extreme for people taught to follow a sensual life style and believe only in material and materialistic things or by going even further to more self destructive ends, suicide ( western world although it is rich suffers from very high suicide rates), substance abuse, crime and so forth. 7. Ignorance which is increasing among western people although the west is still to a big extent the leading world in terms of science and technology, which are are getting challenged every day. 8. Sexism, extreme feminism (extreme, I say), woman use and abuse not only in terms of domstic violence because of the abuse of alcoholic drinks or drugs but even because of the hate and the barrier that have been, being, belt between men and women in the west for many many decades which separates them from eachother and make many of them seek animal-like relations; attarction, breeding (but in our case only sex) and bye. Here I am talking also about how the western woman became an object that can be used naked or half naked even to promote or advertise any piece of Sh*t. Look at these banners, posters and any similar thing but those greedy money makers convince you every day that you are free, wow! how come! . 9. Lack of awarness of onself, true and false, dought about what is good and what is bad (moral and ethical relativism), righteousness and wickedness, sprituality, purpose of life, the hereafter, is there God? which God? why yes? why no? what am I supposed to do? is it just death after life and that is all? am I right? am I worng? what is right doing? and what is worng doing? what is the result of the right or wrong doing? and so many similar issues, at least, very least, there are very few people in the western world who try to answer these questions to themselves logically and in a reasonable way. Briefly this is why you are still single and will hardly ever will find the right man. Unfortunately, it is a long comment while we hate reading in general these days, so I will not discuss more issues and I will not give more details, explanations or details but yet who is interested I can extend that yet. Take it as a thread to follow whether you agree or disagree with me.

Kirsten Clarkson Aug 2, 2018 3:27am

Loving yourself may be the "problem." Relationships are fucking hard and often one partner tries to encroach on the other. You can feel as though you are disappearing. You also can feel like you have never been more yourself with the very same person who makes you want to vomit. People are a fucking mystery and everyone is an absolute mess. Everyone. If you are meeting and rejecting men who diminish you then maybe your self love is keeping you single. There are a lot of selfish, entitled men and if you love yourself you'll steer clear of them. I hope you find a person who is messy in the way that is least offensive to you and has a little zing for your heart. As complete and amazing as you sound I am sure you too are a mess in some way too. But in my experiences as a woman in the wisdom part of life... it's up hill almost all the way with a few absolutely wonderful spots too look out and see the view. And a few good trails to ski with the sun on your back and the wind in your hair knowing your guy is right there with you. Until he irritates the hell out of you again and you say to yourself, "I hate that guy."

Angela Valle May 26, 2018 7:15pm

It appeared to me that you might have recieved or interpreted the message incorrectly. Love yourself does not mean to fix who you are, but to accept yourself for all that you are. You need to know how to respect yourself. You need to know who you are and just love you. I mean, it is true that if you don't know jhow to love yourself, how in the world can you love others. I had learn that I am glad that I did because I honestly don't feel like doubting or critizing myself more than I already have (and I am only 17!). Your friend felt secured and safe in the relationship because she loved herself and was open to loving another human being who may have been also told to love himself. Plus, guys don't mature too quickly which is why some can be jerks. Don't worry the one who will love you as you love yourself is somewhere out there.

Claudia Babb Mar 30, 2018 2:51pm

Couldn’t agree more! Thank you Lauren

Jettie Peace Feb 25, 2018 2:53pm

Thank you for so perfectly finding the words for the anger and frustration I feel time and again when some happily married person tells me to love myself first! OMG! The fact that I love myself is why I am not with any of the ones I’ve met so far! You ROCK!!

Ai-Ling Logan Feb 25, 2018 2:35am

Lauren Collinson Well maybe it would be better to say that being in a relationship is not only OUR choice alone, but a mutual one that has to be shared by the other person, and we do not actually have much say in whether or not someone else will make that choice with us. Love is risk, and fraught with rejection, and the better we are at recovering from it when it happens the more chance we have of eventually finding someone else of like mind in that department. Both parties must understand that any relationship is definitely something that one MUST choose to maintain or it will not sustain itself - or at least, not sustain itself WELL.

Tonya Smith Feb 15, 2018 4:16pm

Has society set the standards on how, when and what, we are "suppose" to do in our lives? As a child, we are asked, Do you have a boyfriend? And as we become teenagers and adults we still play the recording in our mind and feel inadequate because, our friends are following the norm and we are stuck on the sideline chasing the recording. It becomes overwhelming and to some degree we lose sight on what makes us truly happy and limits new experiences and visions for our life. What single woman after an exhausting mentally stressful day does not enjoy rolling around in her bed by herself and looking a mess. She never thinks (maybe, some do) ...This feels awful because I don't have a man.

Elle Stuart Feb 15, 2018 11:32am

If your so desperate for another person then you don’t love yourself that’s the point you have done all these things and your still not forfilled or happy if your never happy how can you expect anybody else to make you happy

Nicky Jeppesen Feb 14, 2018 10:20pm

Well its not so much loving yourself as much as its loving life, you gotta live a life you love as single. When you are happy with or without a partner dating get easier and then you got to have something about you that makes them wanna stay. I know it aint easy for men nor women to do. So live life for you and keep growing, no one has promished you that your life was meant to be spent with a partner

Titi Titi Feb 14, 2018 10:06pm

I think that you lost the point!

Kari Trimble Feb 11, 2018 3:56pm

Thank you for this!!! I completely agree!

Samantha Jackson Feb 4, 2018 3:44pm