We’ve all heard the saying:
Without the ability to love oneself, it’s impossible to love another.
It’s true. My love for others has completely shifted when I have worked on my self-love. And believe it or not, the opposite is true—my self-love has also shifted through others’ love for me.
I understand the soul-searching and the personal realizations we’ve all experienced. We don’t always like others to interfere in our personal development—we consider it a weakness or codependence.
I know I have experienced this solo journey for so long. I only allowed “me” to work on “me.” My personal development was my responsibility solely—never others’. It took me quite a while to realize that the relationships I maintain directly (and indirectly) affect all the personal work I constantly do on myself—especially within romantic relationships.
We’ve all been with someone who has wrecked all the personal work we’ve done on ourselves. But we’ve also been with people who have gotten us out of the wreck we’ve been in.
That said, love shared with others is as powerful and beneficial as self-love. The two highly compliment each other—we can’t speak of self-love without addressing love for others, and vice versa. The way that our partner treats and understands us greatly affects the way we treat and understand ourselves. It all boils down to this question: How do our partners feel about themselves, and what role do we play in it?
I see it in couples around me every day. The partners who are confident and feel good about themselves are with someone who constantly increases their positive emotions through actions or gestures. On the other hand, I see various couples who have self-esteem issues, mainly because their partner treats them poorly.
I’m not saying that our self-esteem only develops with our partner. And I’m not alluding either to the fact that we shouldn’t do our own personal work—that would be unhealthy for both individuals. What I’m saying, however, is that partners can (and should) fill the lost or undiscovered parts of each other.
Truth is, we all snap back. We all need encouragement since we can’t always afford it on our own. Know that no matter how much work we’ve done on ourselves, we can’t be entirely objective and helpful when it comes to “us.”
Whether we know it or not, we have innumerable personal parts that are either dormant or need a lift. A relationship is truly beneficial when we bring those hidden parts of each other to the light and give them the boost they need.
There are many ways in which we can increase our partner’s self-esteem.
Think of compliments as a means of support. Expressing what we like about our partner is always a good idea to make them feel good about themselves. There could be physical parts that our partner hates about themselves—but we can help them to see them differently.
Also, we should never underestimate the power of having conversations. We all crave understanding and compassion from others. When we lend an ear to the person who loves us most, we have no idea how much we’re making them feel appreciated and worthy.
Validating our partner’s emotions—at their best and worst—does miracles as well. Even thanking them for the small things they do for us is a great way to make them feel seen.
What are the things that make your partner feel good? It could be a five-minute massage, a hug, a little chit-chat after a fight, a public post for both of you, a small gift. Learn what makes your partner tick, and provide them with that boost. Pay attention to the hints, and you’ll slowly learn what brings your partner happiness.
The ways in which we can cultivate self-esteem in others are endless. Regardless of the methods, remember that we’re responsible for our own happiness and our partner’s. Teamwork is essential in any relationship so it can grow and bring out the best in both people.
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