Opinion: Please Stop Telling Me I Need To Love Myself Before I Love Someone Else

“You need to love yourself first before anyone else can love you.” How many times have you heard this? If you like this phrase and agree with it, I’m sorry. I think it’s total garbage. I believe that it’s not necessary to love yourself first in order to find love. It’s a journey and one isn’t impossible without the other.

  1. We can be loved without loving ourselves. Think about a child. They may not necessarily know how to love themselves unconditionally. Does this mean that they don’t deserve to receive love or that they can’t receive it? Of course not! It’s the same for adults. We can certainly receive love without having deep wells of love for ourselves. It doesn’t mean that we’re not actively trying to love ourselves, maybe we just aren’t there yet.
  2. You can be totally broken down and still worthy of love. Who’s to say that someone can’t be loved back to health? As humans, we are inherently worthy of love. So, someone who’s really down on their luck still should be able to receive love. Maybe a relationship even starts because someone sees good in a person who can’t see good in themselves. Who’s to say something like this couldn’t happen?
  3. Self-love takes time, man. Gathering up all of the courage, strength, and resolve it takes to love oneself is an immeasurable task. It isn’t an overnight matter. Rather, it takes time and more time. In the meantime, does this mean that we can’t be loved? Hell no. We can both be working on building up our own self-love while also soaking in another person’s or people’s love. While we’re waiting, patience is required.
  4. It doesn’t mean we need to “fix” ourselves. Let’s get one thing straight: we’re not broken. Learning to love ourselves doesn’t mean learning to “fix” ourselves. It actually means meeting ourselves just where we are with compassion and tolerance. The mindset of thinking that there’s fixing to be done means that no one’s ever satisfied because there will always be more work to be done. Instead, acceptance is the answer.
  5. Self-love may not ever be “enough.” A woman may love herself to pieces but still feel a void. Even all the self-love someone can muster may not be enough to feel whole. Some people have experienced things like trauma and may always feel like there’s a piece of them missing. Again, because their self-love isn’t perfect, does this mean they aren’t worthy of being loved by another? No freaking way.
  6. Maybe it’s the other people who are the issue. Perhaps a woman loves herself deeply but gets into a relationship with someone else who has a ton of problems. This other person is making her feel like she’s not enough. Perhaps they’re emotionally abusive and use tactics like gaslighting. One might say from the outside that she doesn’t love herself enough, but maybe she has just shacked up with a jerk.
  7. It’s not all about having someone else love us. The implication with “you need to love yourself before someone else can love you” is that the ultimate goal is to be loved by another person. That self-love is only manufactured in order to find a lover. This is garbage. Self-love is created and found so that women can feel whole. It’s called SELF-love for a reason. Having it benefit relationships is secondary.
  8. A relationship can still work without someone having perfect self-love. Sure, it certainly helps if someone has built up some self-esteem and love before they jump into a relationship. But, it’s possible to be in one without perfect self-love. You don’t have to sculpt your love of self into this impeccable blob in order to be worthy of a relationship. Quite often other people kiss our wounds and help us heal. Not in a codependent way, but in the way of love.
  9. Self-love may look different for everyone. For one person self-love may look like meditating and going to sleep early. For another person, it may look like giving their all at work and being kind to strangers. Who knows what an individual calls self-love, but it can’t be judged by an outside source. It can only be defined by the individual person.
  10. Seeking self-love is a never-ending journey. There’s no destination when it comes to loving yourself. You never reach a perfect nirvana where there’s no more work to be done. Instead, you have to do your best to be relentless with your self-love, never giving up and always doing the best you can at any given moment. Furthermore, being in a relationship isn’t a destination where you get to drop all self-love actions. Keep up that journey for life.
Ginelle has been writing professionally for more than six years and has a bachelor’s degree in digital marketing & design. Her writing has appeared on Birdie, Thought Catalog, Tiny Buddha and more. You can follow her on Instagram @ginelletesta, via her Facebook page, or through her website at ginelletesta.com.