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I haven’t always been a great partner. And I sure as hell am still not the best.
I’m still learning what it means to be in a relationship and how to properly navigate it while still struggling with my own self-love.
I’ve heard it time and time again that we can’t truly love another until we love ourselves and I don’t necessarily believe that. I see the truth behind the phrase, but love isn’t that simple.
For me, my self-love journey hasn’t been a linear process. What in life is linear, anyway? Some days, I love myself a lot. And other days, I self-loathe. To be completely honest, I don’t know if I will ever truly love myself every single day, but I do trust that I will love myself most days and that’s what allows me to accept the hard days.
And even though I don’t always love myself, I’m still in the healthiest relationship of my life. And that’s because, on the days that I don’t love myself (and on the days that I do), I choose myself. And so does he.
Growing up, I had a lot of insecurities. I was too naive to recognize that the triggering behaviors of my partners were actually just a mirror of what I needed to change within myself. And instead of choosing myself and learning what I needed to heal, I would choose them. I would decide to pick apart everything that was “wrong” with them and ask them to change. I loved them, but that’s not loving them.
Choosing my partner instead of choosing myself was an easy way out. Projecting my insecurities onto them was much simpler than actually facing the truth of what I needed to unlearn about how to be loved. I believed that to be loved I needed to be a certain way and if my partner didn’t fit within the confines of my limited belief, I subconsciously believed that they too weren’t worthy of love. And even though I loved them with every cell in my being, I wasn’t capable of giving them the love I genuinely wanted to give because I didn’t know how to choose myself.
And yes, choosing ourselves is an act of loving ourselves. But I still believe that we can love another when we don’t fully love ourselves. It’s when we can’t choose ourselves that we might have a hard time loving another.
And that’s why I believe that finding a partner who chooses themselves is arguably the most important quality a partner should have. Because when our partners choose themselves, that gives them the space to heal, grow, transform, and become the partner we all deserve to have. When our partners choose themselves, they learn how to healthfully chose us.
But, unfortunately, it’s not always easy when our partners choose themselves because, oftentimes, that means we need to give them space to do so. And as a recovering codependent, it’s tough to not take it personally when our partners want to be alone. But we need to remember that when our partners choose themselves, it is not only an act of love toward themselves, but it is an act of love toward us.
We don’t have to always love ourselves to be in a healthy, loving relationship, but we do need to learn how to always choose ourselves even when we don’t want to. And we also need to understand that if we want our partners to love us the way we deserve to be loved, we need to let them choose themselves first.