Love yourself first

No, you DON'T have to love yourself first.

''You need to love yourself first before you can love somebody else.'' It sounds pretty sensible, and yet it's utterly untrue. In fact, loving another person is a fast track to learning to love yourself.

Let me give you 3 reasons why ''love yourself first'' is nonsense:

1. Your relationship is like a mirror reflecting your inner world.

Are you craving validation, reassurance or inquisitiveness and feel like your partner is currently lacking in that department? This might well be an invitation to validate, reassure or be more interested in yourself. Assuming you are in a safe and secure relationship, it doesn't hurt to first consider what YOU can do to satisfy your needs. In fact, by doing so, you often fulfill something that the other person could never have done in a way that's as true to you as you can.

Relationships mirror your inner world. Which means:

  1. You can only see in another, what (in some form) exists within yourself.
  2. Whatever you feel like you need from someone else, might actually be an invitation to give to yourself (first).

What this can look like in practice

If you are bothered by the words of your significant other, it might be a good idea to take a look at your own self-talk, or at the beliefs you carry that these words bring to the surface. And if you feel lonely in your relationship or lack a certain connectedness, you might want to ask yourself: Am I really, truly there for myself?

Sometimes the need is so vast and we try so hard to get it met by someone else, because we haven't yet fully mastered providing it for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with that. (!!!) However, it is very helpful for yourself (and your relationship) to be aware of it and allow yourself to take advantage of this opportunity to deepen your self-connection.

2. You’re training your ''love muscle''.

By loving another, you develop your capacity to love. And, in time, you can learn to apply this acquired skill to yourself as well. Every time you realize that you are succeeding in loving an imperfect being is a reason to celebrate, big time. Because, apparently, you can. It is part of your personal skill set. And yes, harnessing this skill for yourself is different and harder, but this training certainly contributes to it. Not to mention how helpful it is to experience being loved.

3. You practice receiving love.

That too. By being in a (romantic) relationship you can not only practice loving an imperfect being, you can also practice receiving love as an imperfect being. Truly opening ourselves up to receiving love, even when we are being our flawed, most authentic selves, is quite the challenge for most of us. And a relationship is the perfect place to practice the shit out of this. Slowly but surely, you'll get better at it, and maybe even develop the confidence that you're really freaking worth it too. 

It's great, it's not a must

Of course, all this does not mean that you should expect nothing from your partner (or other relationships). You really don't have to meet all your needs on your own; as human beings we will always need other people too. Thinking of your relationships as mirrors reflecting your inner world is just a tool for building a better relationship with yourself.

Give yourself the time and space to patiently explore and practice all of this. You do NOT need to have mastered this whole self-love thing before you can enter into a loving relationship. Because, let's face it, if that were the case, we'd probably all fly and die completely solo. #alwaysaworkinprogress

So, you DON'T have to love yourself first

Most people only learn to fully, truly, authentically love themselves once they are being loved (hey, it's possible!) and are loving another person (hey, I can do this!). And then, within that dynamic, they start to see themselves more clearly, subsequently figuring out - little by little - how to put that capacity for giving and receiving love to work for themselves.

So, you do not have to already have found the key to self-love. Even without that key, you can be in a happy and healthy relationship, and, through the love between the two of you, discover how to love yourself (even more).