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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Lucy Wasmund May 1, 2019 5:20pm

Love this article. I’ve spent the past 9 years practicing self-love in various forms on an almost daily basis. Over the years, my practice has gotten deeper and healthier. Although I know that my friends/family/therapists love me and want me to be happy, however, when they tell me that I need more self-love, I take their comments to mean that I’m failing at self-love and need to work harder and that I should be ashamed of myself for looking for external love. And then I get frustrated and resentful towards them because I’m already working as hard as I possibly can (for 9 years) on self-love. And why should I feel guilty for wanting someone to fall in love with me? Don’t they think I deserve that? Not that I’m looking for my “other half”, but true, equal love. Anyway, guess I need to work on these feelings of shame and resentment!

shannon Apr 30, 2019 10:15am

I really liked reading your perspective…it’s not one I have considered.

I never really took away the feeling that “I needed fixing” when diving deep into self care and seeing those type of quotes. But I see your point.

I am a work in process and late to the game in learning to love thy self. I needed to hear those words “Love yourself” I didn’t even know it was a thing..LOL
Some of us have only known how to put others first and ignore our own basic emotional needs. I never gave validation to myself as being worthy of anything more then wife, mother and breadwinner. I was a robot. And now I am not…I am in emotional transformation and looking forward to more growth. And learning to embrace my singleness as well.
I was asked what that means and how to put the work into it. For everyone it is probably a different process but I am beyond grateful that I learned it was OK to value myself. And I do encourage anyone going through a hard time to do just that. I do agree that if the right guy has not come along, that has nothing to do with loving yourself, but because you do love yourself you have not to settled for the wrong one. Win Win

Meagan Davey Apr 29, 2019 10:39pm

Thanks for this article! These were my sentiments and frustrations exactly!

I started buying into the “you need to love yourself first” ideal earlier on when I began undergoing my journey to reconnect with my true self and finding a well-suited partner. I felt a great amount of frustration around this idea when I started observing my friends and family who were in relationships- I saw so much insecurity in their selves and toward their partners. I saw masking of their true selves in order to avoid scaring their partners away. I saw people acting out the belief that their happiness was the responsibility of the other person. I saw people constantly seeking validation and attempting to have their emptiness filled by another.

After being angry at the “love yourself first” idea after seeing all the holes in it, I’ve simply just let it go as it doesn’t resonate with me. I started to release that and realised that humans are social beings, who operate within their social network. We need love and connection to survive. So I thought what is actually wrong with craving a loving healthy connection with another person? It seems natural to me. We as individuals are already whole as we are. I was sick of feeling like I had to be 100% fixed before I went out to find someone to spend my life with. I’m currently single and I’m just trying to live my life learning to be my authentic self as I continue my pursuit.

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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.