Can others love us if we don’t love ourselves?

I spend years hoping someone’s love could save me from the pit inside my soul. That they would find my flaws endearing, and in turn so would I. Life rarely works that way, and saving myself turned out to be much quicker and safer. Is it true that other’s cannot love us if we don’t in the first place?

“Self-love is not selfish; you cannot truly love another until you know how to love yourself.”

Mental health advocates hate the sentiment that we need self-love to experience love. How else would we learn what it is? I agree, but insist on broadening it to all kinds of relationships. I learned to love from strangers and friends who went out of their way to help me. I thought I felt it before I learned. However, I loved them despite myself, not because of it.

“Love is not finding your perfect half. It’s the trying, and reaching, and failing.” – Ellie Chu (The Half of It)

Self-love and external love alike depend on accepting the negative and positive aspects of someone. Choosing a partner is often choosing the flaws you can live with. If we have a hard time accepting our own “shortcomings”, then we might have the same difficulty with others. It certainly helps being forgiving and patient with ourselves if we want to have a healthy relationship.

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return.” – Moulin Rouge

Remember when we insisted we were in love as children, only to find out the true meaning as teens or adults? I believe the same holds true until we fully learn how to. We think the extreme rush of hormones and feelings are love; the addiction and obsession that swallows us whole. Instead, it often takes heartbreak and even divorce for many to realise the true nature of it.
Love is compromise, honesty and kindness, not the willingness to jump off a bridge for someone.

We often believe ourselves in love when we are actually in a trauma bond with someone who has similar insecurities as us. There are studies proving that people with insecure attachment styles in a relationship with secure attachment types can shift over time and become healthy. What’s most important seems to be that we can recognise love and not shun it, whether it’s internal or external.

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