Yes, you actually have to love yourself first.
Let’s talk about dating and self-worth.
For many years, more than I would like to admit, I suffered from something that I believe a lot of other people suffer from too; the tendency to look for my own sense of worthiness in the eyes of other people. Spoiler alert: I never found it there.
When I think back to being about 12 years old or so, I can remember that I always wanted to date. I use that word loosely, since what I'm referring to is back when you had a boyfriend or girlfriend before you where actually old enough to go on dates. But basically, I wanted the boys at school to be interested in me more than I wanted anything else. As I grew up that feeling never really went away. Even if I knew someone wasn’t a good match for me, I dated them anyway. I chose looking for relationships over everything, because if felt so good to be wanted.
Receiving attention and hoping I would be loved, felt almost like chasing a high.
I was looking for someone to tell me that I was worthy, to tell me that I mattered, to make me feel like I was good enough.
I had low self-esteem, and plenty of self-doubt. I learned, incorrectly, at some point that self-worth was earned. I truly felt that if someone else loved me, I would be happy. But it didn't work. Not once did I ever feel safe that my love was secure and that I mattered simply because someone else told me so. I walked on eggshells, I over-analyzed everything, I tried to be perfect.
Well it's true when they say that hindsight is 20/20. It was a hard lesson for me to learn but when people tell you to love yourself first, they mean it. I hated hearing that. "What do you mean? If I don’t love myself, no one else can love me? Of course I love myself." But did I? No. I wouldn’t have been searching so hard for love if I did.
Loving yourself takes a lot more courage than I had back then. Loving yourself means loving the parts that aren’t all that pretty. Loving the parts that you’d rather pretend aren’t there. Loving yourself means allowing yourself to be in that process where loving yourself is hard
Loving yourself means you don’t earn worthiness, but it’s something that is and always will be rightfully yours.
Dating is fun and it teaches you a lot about yourself and what you want for your life. But it’s the self-worth piece that needs to be addressed. I think a lot of people jump into relationships in hopes of feeling better about themselves, feeling “saved”. I don’t believe those are the relationships that expand and blossom into healthy partnerships.
I’m committed to learning more and more about myself as I get older, and loving myself in the most courageous way that I can. I am worthy of love, and so are you. Since the time that I have chosen this path, my relationship has only gotten stronger. Now I am able to see when I am not being fair and when my own insecurities come up.
If you feel stuck in your relationship, or if you feel like you have to be extra careful to make sure you don’t “mess this one up”, than maybe it’s time to take a long hard look at what’s going on. Is your relationship built out of pure love for yourself and your partner? Do you feel as though you are equals, practicing healthy boundaries? Or, could it be that you are operating from a place of fear that you need to hold on to any attention that you may be getting because you never know when you’ll find it again?
Is your self-love tank full? Or are you attempting to fill it with someone else's brand?
Whatever situation you’re in, know that you aren’t alone. My hope for you is that you love all of the parts of yourself, and that if you’re in a relationship, you’re sharing healthy boundaries and love with someone who does the same. If you’re not in that place, I hope that you can at least begin to recognize it and know that there is something greater out there for you. Awareness and intention are the perfect places to start.
If you want to have a deep, honest conversation about how this is showing up in your life, I’m here. Head on over to my work-with-me page to find out how.