Love is powerful. Self-love is the best love, and it is rightly said. It can be reduced to chemical reactions in the brain or elevated to the spiritual phenomenon. Love invites us to be brave and expose our deepest selves. Love can also feel like an unwelcome spotlight that reveals our dirtiest secrets. We all have them—the parts of ourselves that are weak and afraid at best. We work hard to hide them away so no one ever sees them. We believe that these parts—and ultimately ourselves—don’t deserve compassion. Perhaps we don’t even feel worthy of love itself. What does that mean about our ability to be in a loving relationship with another person? We often hear that you have to love yourself first to able to love or, worse, be loved. This is a toxic way to view yourself and only reinforces the very fears that keep you hidden in the first place. Your struggle to love yourself does not devalue the love you have to share, nor does it render you unlovable. Your ability to love yourself just changes the way you experience a loving relationship.
What does it mean to love yourself? It refers to accepting all parts of yourself, even the ones that bring you discomfort. It means taking care of yourself when despair instructs you to isolate and withhold. It means learning to believe in two seemingly opposing truths at the same time: you are good enough as you are and you have room to grow. Loving yourself is not an unchanging state that you either exist or don’t. You will have days when you will revel in the chance to be kind and gentle with yourself, and there will be days it will feel like swimming upstream. When you look at love as something dynamic, as a behaviour, as a conscious effort, it becomes more accessible. Loving yourself is not set in stone, but a choice over which you have control. You have the freedom to offer love to yourself and to open yourself up to a new experience of being in love. Here are five reasons, how loving yourself can make your relationship stronger
When you love yourself, you can share yourself with your partner without fear
When you love yourself, you can recognize your imperfections and refrain from judging them. You know all humans are in a constant state of flux, and that these imperfections are opportunities to evolve. You have nothing to hide and can be honest with your partner about your flaws and how you attend to them.
When you love yourself, you can trust your partner’s love for you
When your partner tells you how kind, generous, and attractive you are, you can believe it. Self-doubt won’t prevent you from accepting your partner’s love. You will know that—while you’re not perfect—you have a lot to offer, and it is absolutely believable that someone would value you.
When you love yourself, you can express your needs without guilt
Recognizing your own value means recognizing that your needs are just as important as your partner’s. Rather than feeling like a burden or undeserving of attention, you will find the courage to ask for what feels good to you.
When you love yourself, you can fight fair
When you love yourself, you can have conflict in a relationship and it won’t feel like the end of the world. You won’t automatically take everything personally, which means less self-blame and anger. Rather than shaming yourself or lashing out at your partner, you’ll be able to take responsibility for your actions in a clear-headed and thoughtful manner.
When you love yourself, you can be independent of your partner.
When you love yourself, you don’t have to feel insecure about your partner’s life outside of you. When your partner is away, you can still hold onto your own value. Your partner doesn’t exist for your validation and security; they are their own person. You can support the development of your partner’s personal story, and they can support yours.