September 6, 2017

Stop Telling Single Women to Love Themselves First.

“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 

Relephant Bonus

Melissa Moffet & Waylon Lewis talk Dating...Mindfully.

The single best thing you can do for yourself every single day.

How to Fall in Love with Yourself.

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brenda Jun 28, 2019 3:58am

Your final statement my dear “But the more we care for and look out for ourselves”… that’s called loving yourself.

That said loving yourself is not a pre-requisite for finding a partner, it’s a pre-requires for being happy.

I’ve been learning to love myself even more through my relationship with my partner.

If you don’t love yourself in the ways you need however, I’ve learned you’ll constantly look for validation from others.

I didn’t find my partner until I was 35, just enjoy your life to the fullest, he’ll show up when you least expect it.

Love and light,

angiesmithe Jun 27, 2019 11:01pm

Here’s the thing. I met my husband when I was 29, so I definitely had years where I felt this way, but the hard truth is difficult to say to your single friends. (Although I would never utter the contemptible phrase “Love yourself”).
Usually your single friends are single for a reason. Are you overweight and searched for a hot guy? Are you cross-eyed? Are your social media posting habits desperate and scaring guys off? Are you clingy and dramatic early on dating? For those app and online daters – are your pictures putting people off?
Ask someone seriously what it is. Lauren maybe even forget about ego and ask some of your exes. What was it specifically? Tell them it’s to HELP you. You won’t be mad. Maybe one will be brave enough to tell you the truth.
Now that that’s out of the way, some other thoughts:
-You’re 35 years old. The window is going to be small to find someone age appropriate who isn’t divorced with kids. Are you open to that? You should be by this point.
-Many guys wouldn’t date a woman of that age; they want to have kids and even though they wouldn’t admit it, they’re looking for younger. Lower expectations and standards – date anyone regardless of skin color or religion. You may fall in love and get everything you wanted.
-don’t expect to have chemistry and fall for someone perfectly in 1 date or even 2 sometimes. My husband was so nervous our first date he barely talked. He’s hilarious and wonderful to be around.
-City living = harder to find someone to settle down. Move to the suburbs and go to regular small town bars, stores, events. You’ll see. Most in the city are faster paced life, don’t want to move to the suburbs. And vice versa which makes the nice marriage minded men not want to date someone who lives through all that traffic.
-So many more tips are out there. single women, ask a stranger (maybe someone on Reddit or something) to scrutinize your online profile and you’ll learn a lot.

Paris Vaughn Jun 27, 2019 10:08pm

What an AWESOME article! You better preach girlfriend!! Iove it. I get sick of hearing that bulli-sh too!

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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.