We often hear that it’s imperative to love ourselves before loving anyone else.
It appears to me that self-love is like water—we only drink it when we’re thirsty. In other words, we only remember ourselves after neglecting ourselves. It would seem we mostly work on loving ourselves only when we go through a breakup, or when we lose ourselves in our current relationship.
When we’re on the verge of losing our partner, we give our all and put in more energy and effort to save the relationship. Most of the time our efforts are to no avail. You see, reasons vary when it comes to the failure of romantic relationships. But what we don’t realize, is that sometimes, relationships fail because our self-love fails.
The fact is, whenever there are two sides involved, there must be balance. Take for example a bottle of water that can only fill one glass. If we wish to have that water in two glasses, we should pour it into them equally. However, if we pour all the water into one, the other glass will be empty.
It is the same in relationships. If we give our all to our partner without awareness, there will be a void within us. Oftentimes, giving everything only drives our partner away. How often do we hear, “I gave him/her my all, but he/she left?” And this statement is often followed by another about how being nice is wrong.
We’re missing the point here. Being nice is never wrong and loving from the core of our souls isn’t faulty. And, our partners don’t unexpectedly stop loving us. Oftentimes, when they lose interest or leave, it is because they miss the person they fell in love with at the start: the person who loved himself/herself.
The truth is, we all love ourselves at the beginning of a relationship. However, when challenges arise (and they do), and when our darker side is triggered, we switch from focusing on ourselves to solely focusing on saving the relationship—which, most of the time, ends up badly.
To start off with let me clear something up. The term “love yourself” sometimes has dreadful connotations. We might associate it with selfishness or narcissism. But, to love oneself goes beyond the idea of egocentricity.
When we say, “I love myself” it refers to accepting ourselves, being at peace with ourselves. I know my imperfections and I work on them without judging myself. When I love who I am, I don’t accept anything or anyone to hurt me or to bring me down. I’m gentle with myself, I fight fair with others, and I don’t take things personally. Most importantly, to love myself means that my happiness isn’t dependent on outside factors.
To sum it all up: to love myself is to give myself all the love that I wish others would give me.
Imagine a genuine, “imperfectly perfect” person in a relationship. There wouldn’t be expectations, blaming, judging, shaming, or a feeling of discomfort in the relationship.
To love ourselves when we’re in love means that everything we give to our partner we should equally give ourselves. If you spend a day with them, don’t forget to spend some time alone to do the things you’re passionate about. If something goes wrong, be open to calmly communicating instead of giving them the silent treatment.
If you’re wrong, tend to your mistakes and work on fixing them because it is part of your individual growth. Know that you are lovable and your partner sees you as amazing. Treat yourself the way you want your partner to treat you. Don’t forget your goals, what they mean to you, and how special they are. Don’t support bad behavior—love yourself enough to stand your ground. Learn to be on your own and don’t let your entire happiness depend upon your partner—that puts pressure on them.
To love oneself while in a relationship is the epitome of true love. The love we hold for our partner will be authentic and not based in neediness. We’d love them for who they are and not for who we want them to be. And, mainly, we’d accept what they have to offer us without pressuring them into giving us what is missing inside ourselves.
Now let’s be frank. Practicing self-love is easier when we’re on our own. When we’re in a relationship, our focus consistently splits between ourselves and our partner. However, instead of perceiving relationships as harming to our self-love, we can perceive them as a good practice to help us maintain it. At the end of the day, a fruitful practice is the one with challenges.
We must know that the love of our partner never replaces the love we hold for ourselves. In fact, if we don’t keep the love for ourselves alive, we will actually lose the love of our partner.
But this never happens intentionally. We don’t enter a relationship and claim, “Now is the time to stop loving myself.” But, when push comes to shove, we indirectly tend to focus on our partner and forget the part where we should also focus on ourselves.
When we give our love equally to ourselves and our partner, we automatically save the relationship and keep it on the right track. Never forget “you” and never forget that side of you that your partner fell in love with.