There is an age-old saying about trying to love someone else when you don’t love yourself. It echoes in my mind, and I think that because I don’t love myself, I can’t love someone else. I want to believe this isn’t true. Because of the complex nature of love, it does not require any prerequisites or qualifications. There are no levels to having feelings for others — no requirement for how much you must love yourself to love someone else.
I have started dating someone who makes me want to be a better person, and I believe him when he tells me things about myself that I should believe. My feelings for him aren’t hindered by the lack of feelings I have for myself. I can be open with him about the ways I feel about myself and him, and I know that I have finally reached a point in my life where I no longer feel the need to be guarded with other people.
Not loving yourself does not mean that you can’t love someone else. The love that I have for my friends and family is exponentially higher than the love I have for myself. I have known myself the longest, cycling back and forth with the way that I feel for myself. I have seen myself grow and fall, open myself to others and close myself off. At the end of the day, the relationship that I have with myself is one of the toughest ones I need to work on, and I am constantly working on it.
A lot of this plays into the category of “self-love,” a topic that has been a trending recently. The definition of self-love is always changing, sometimes ranging from the act of burning candles to doing yoga, from following your passion of crafting to removing toxic people from your life. To me, a part of self-love is understanding that truly loving yourself, if possible, is an ongoing process, just like most relationships are. You can’t start at truly loving yourself 100 percent, and every single day isn’t going to be the same amount of love that you felt for yourself the day before. This also means that you should understand that it is possible to love others, even if you do not love yourself.
By nature, I am an anxious person. I am cautious and try to be calculated, knowing not to cling onto something that isn’t going to work out and always playing it safe. Sometimes, I find myself questioning the relationships that I have, worrying if I am “too much” for my friends, or a burden to my family. My anxiety also plays into how I feel about myself. I can’t turn off the strain I feel surrounding my relationships; I can’t fully come to terms with how insufferable I think I am to others. At the end of the day, however, I try not to let these things hinder how I feel about others. Although I can’t fully come to terms with some of my personality quirks or ticks, I still try to love my friends and family as best I can. Despite how I sometimes feel about myself, I love with an open heart.
Love is such a complicated action, yet it seems so simple at the same time. I don’t question the love I have for my friends or my family, but I question the love I have for myself every day. However, this does not hinder how I feel about other people. I don’t have to feel whole to wholly give my heart to someone else. This is not to say that I use my relationships with others to fill a void, but rather that I can allow them to happen despite how I feel about myself. When you feel like you do not love yourself, that does not mean that you are not worthy of love. If you can’t love yourself, you can still love others with a full heart and open arms — you can allow yourself to be open yourself to them.