To Love Selflessly, You Must Love Yourself First

Love yourself honestly, authentically, and unconditionally. 

I know we’ve all heard of the idea of ‘loving ourselves before loving anyone else.’ Yes, I know, it’s undeniably cheesy and incredibly cliché. After hearing the phrase in countless corny and predictable movies on self discovery and love, most of us are probably pretty sick of hearing it. And I don’t blame you! It’s such a simple, short, and common phrase. We hear it so often, but are rarely taught the value of applying it, making it easy to pawn off as something somewhat unrealistic or unimportant. But, whether we like it or not, the phrase is a cliché for a reason. Its meaning isn’t emphasized to the extent it should be; but when we set aside it’s cheesiness and really break it down, there is immense power, truth, and value in the phrase’s simple concept.

In my opinion, it is not possible to love someone truly and selflessly unless you have self-sustained values of confidence and worthiness. 

Whether this scenario has been true to you or someone in your life, most of us probably know someone with low self-worth who became dependent on a person in a romantic relationship to feel validated. If you’re familiar with the eight types of love, according to the Ancient Greeks, this type of dependent love is known as ‘mania’ or obsessive love. Mania love is a love motivated by insecurity. Those who experience it use their relationship to feel worthy and valuable. Someone who is experiencing mania love is most likely not intentionally selfish. But, depending on another person to feel worthy and validated is inherently a selfish act. Those you love will become unwillingly subject to sustain your happiness and won’t be loved in a way that is fully selfless and authentic. This is why loving yourself first is so important. If you have whole and unconditional love for yourself, you can be certain the love you give to others is selfless rather than self-motivated

We have to be honest with ourselves, assess our self-worth, and clarify the motivations behind our love for others. We must ask ourselves hard questions, “do I love this person because they make me feel validated and worthy?” or “do I love this person because I appreciate who they are and have no motivation other than simply wanting to love them.”

If you aren’t able to find love for yourself on your own, in an attempt to be happy, you will seek external feelings of worth and validation. And not just through romantic relationships, but even through friendships, your daily interactions with others, and in our technology oriented world, probably through social media too. This is hurtful to you because high self-love and worth relates to our joy. If you depend on others to feel worthy, your happiness will grow to be conditional. Being subject to conditional happiness is not sustainable, and is probably the easiest way to be unhappy. 

It’s easier said than done, but if you truly and selflessly want to love others— friends, family members, romantic partners, or otherwise— even though it’s cheesy and cliché, you must love yourself first.


x Nicole Leary