Is it true, or is it bull****?
Valentine’s Day means flowers and roses absolutely everywhere.
I challenge you to get through the day without seeing a heart somewhere because I’m pretty sure that’s impossible. Unless you live in a pre-internet cave or something. Whatever. I’m not here to judge – I just want to know how you’re reading this online blog post.
What I am here to do, is talk about this idea that nobody will ever love you until you love yourself.
I find Valentine’s Day boring and I couldn’t care less. However, I do like this new thing where people dedicate Valentine’s Day to talk about self-love instead of overromanticizing some weird idea of what love is supposed to look like.
Today’s seems like the perfect day to bring up this topic and explain why I think it’s kinda bull****.
I bet you’ve the seen a quote at some point.
Here’s just a few samples I found with a quick Google search, written across a beautiful background with a fancy font to make it seem inspirational.
You know you can’t love someone until you love yourself
No one is going to love you for who you are if you don’t love yourself
You can never truly love someone love you until you learn to love yourself
First love yourself, others will come next
You’ve got to love yourself first. You’ve got to be ok on your own before you can be ok with somebody else
I believe you can absolutely be loved even if you don’t feel worthy of it, or love yourself.
From a mental health perspective depression, eating disorders, anxiety, trauma and other issues can make you feel unworthy of love. Those illnesses lie.
But it’s impossible to love yourself while you are in the midst of one.
People with mental illnesses still deserve love and they can be loved.
While the idea that your perfect person will come along and fix you is wrong on so many levels*, having somebody who loves you, who holds your hand through the struggle is immensely valuable.
When I was caught in the deep dark covers of depression, what I heard people say with that sentence was:
Nobody will ever love you. Period.
I was in such a bad place, had such low, low self worth. I could never imagine a time where I loved myself, even one where I barely liked myself.
People who say this probably have pure intentions and want you to realise how amazing you are. That you should prioritise your own mental and emotional well-being before pursuing a romantic relationship. But that’s not how it comes across to somebody who doesn’t love themselves. They hear you saying that they don’t deserve to be loved.
If someone, upon reflection, comes to the realisation that they should work on their self esteem and wellbeing, before going on dates again, I’m all for it. Babe, I support you! What’s right for you is just not right for everybody else.
This saying, “nobody will ever until you love yourself” also make self-love seem like a simple switch you learn to turn on one day. You’ve been fumbling around in the dark and finally found it. Either you love yourself or you don’t. It’s that simple, always.
But that’s not really the truth is it?
My experience with recovery, learning to love and take care of myself tells me there’s going to be good days and there’s going to be bad days and I deserve love on both of those days.
Let me tell you, there’s plenty of people with depression, low self-esteem and all kinds of other “flaws” in happy relationships. Obviously those things can add challenges to the relationship, but there are challenges in every single relationship. No matter what. In some cases it’s the lack of self worth. For many, it’s financial issues, but there’s no inspirational saying on how “No one will ever love you until you’re rich”. There’s more than enough sucky things in the world for everyone. Everybody has baggage.
It can actually be helpful to have a loved one to help shift your perspective. Let you see yourself in a new light, through the eyes of the person who loves you – they see you as worthy, not in spite of, but because of who are – flaws, strengths and all.
I’m just not okay with people making self love mandatory before you can enter a romantic relationship.
For most people self love is an endless journey with different challenges throughout life. There’s no line to cross where it says ‘congratulations, you are now worthy of love!’
Now, I’m not promoting the ‘love will make you whole’ idea either. I don’t agree with the argument from the other side that says you need to be in a romantic relationship to be truly whole (or that there must be something wrong with you if you’re single!). Just no.
What I’m really trying to say is: romantic love and self love are two different things that can be pursued independently. Neither is a prerequisite for the other.
People are lovely. People are flawed.
You have shortcomings. You add value to the world.
We are all unique and deserving of love in our own way ❤️
* I’m currently watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend with Rachel Bloom, and that’s a perfect example of how it can be better to face your personal issues before pursuing romantic love.