The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
As a 19-year-old, I often see my friends and people I’m close to, get in and out of relationships. From the outside, every relationship may seem perfect, but what I’ve learned is that relationships take a lot more work than they appear to. It takes two strong-minded and understanding people to create a healthy relationship. The most important thing I’ve realized is that you can’t be in a loving relationship until you love and fully understand yourself first.
I’m not saying you must know exactly who you are and what you want to achieve, in order to be with somebody else. Nobody knows all those things and it’s an essential part of life to grow and develop those ideas. But you also can’t be on the opposite end of the spectrum, where you’re so completely lost with yourself that you lack any self-confidence in who you are. This lack of self-love going into a relationship can lead to many toxic things.
For one, if you have no direction in life going into a relationship, you may feel the need to make your partner a part of your identity. Constantly being with them and feeling the need to rely on them for every decision, idea and thought in your mind is unhealthy and creates the idea that they make up your identity. If something goes wrong and the relationship ends, you’d be lost without them. Having a strong idea of who you are without an individual is necessary for a balanced and stable relationship. Without that, you’re revolving your entire world around a single individual, who may or may not be in your life forever. A person should help you grow, not create you entirely.
Another point to loving yourself prior to committing to a relationship, is the need to have a strong mindset and know your boundaries. Many individuals allow partners to be controlling and tell them what they can and can’t do, in terms of physical changes. It’s okay to have a preference, but when a partner is telling you that you can’t do specific things you’d like to do, that’s a problem. Someone who is unsure of themselves might allow this control into their lives and won’t be able to spot this as a toxic trait in a partner. Where the opposite person who is sure of themselves and knows what they want is valid, would not allow this toxicity.
Loving yourself first allows for the right relationship to enter your life. Oftentimes, people enter relationships in search for companionship rather than truly loving a person. If you already love yourself, love your own company and do alright on your own, you’ll be entering a relationship for the purpose of an additional love in your life, not to fill the absence of love. You’ll be more likely to find a long-lasting and secure relationship this way, by accepting love into an already loving life. Rather than your partner being someone you rely on for a boost of confidence or love, they’re there for a variety of different reasons as you already bring your own self-love to the table. The hard truth is that a partner should not be there to fix your problems, they should be there to support you in fixing your own.
Self-love is a difficult thing to achieve for some, but the answer isn’t finding someone else to love you first. Loving yourself before loving another is key to entering a successful and healthy relationship. The key to figuring out how to love yourself is often first being alone and discovering who you are without a partner. And then, when you’re truly ready and secure in yourself, is when you can allow a love into your life. Then, the relationship becomes something you enjoy and appreciate rather than something you feel you desperately need.