Dating and Relationship Advice

It seems to be a testament of dating: you have to love yourself in order to be fully loved by a romantic partner. But is that really the case?

Self-love is not easy for everyone. There are many people who don't love themselves, or have a negative self-view. We see it all the time in movies and television shows: a person grows up with verbally abusive relatives, struggles with depression, or endures a traumatic experience.

Is it really true that after everything these people have been through, they cannot be loved by another person? To me, it seems like these people need love the most. For some, the love of another may be all that they have.

You don't need self-love for love

It is hard for some people to see how they can be loved or accepted when they look at themselves. They may think that they're too anxious, carry too much baggage, or aren't good-looking. They condition themselves to think that they aren't worthy of love, even if it's not true.

Years ago, one of my close friends told me that he didn’t think you had to love yourself to be with another person. I admired his casual approach to commitment: as long as you are with someone who makes you happy and respects you, that constitutes a worthy partnership.

Love from another person can even contribute to self-love. We feel elevated by the support of those closest to us. I feel more motivated when my mom tells me that she is proud of me, and I feel connected when my friend sends me a video to make me laugh. Our view of ourselves shifts positively when others take the time to let us know that we matter and that we are an important part of their lives.

There is no prerequisite for love

There is no strict code of conduct that you have to meet before diving into a new relationship. There is no meter keeping track of your self-love. We are always working on ourselves—that's what makes us human.

I’m not perfect. I’ve had days when I look in the mirror and wondered: why bother? I don’t feel good, what is the point? And there are other days when I feel fabulous, unstoppable, and unwillingly to acknowledge my own negative self-view. Those bad days don’t make me feel like I'm unworthy of happiness, nor should they.

Ultimately, no significant other is perfect either. The insecurities, the flaws, the self-criticisms that you harbor exist in other people too. That is why you shouldn’t be afraid to let another person into your life. They can love the little things about you that you might not see right away.

Love yourself as much as you can, even if it seems difficult. Often, the same things we used hate about ourselves become the things that we strive to highlight.