How can you love someone who’s still learning to love themselves?

“You need to love yourself first before you love someone else” – fine to say among mates, but is it undermining feelings of worthiness in relationships?

Charlotte Dredge
1st November 2021
Image: @geralt via pixabay
Let’s start with a metaphor. Imagine your love for your significant other is a river, flowing from you to them. Many people, however, struggle with boulders that inhibit or impede that flow.

These boulders, what we may identify as ‘baggage’, can vary in size and impact, both on how we view ourselves and on our behaviour within relationships.

There are many reading who, in the privacy of their minds, will acknowledge the existence of the odd rock or landslide that has gotten in the way of previous relationships, or may even be impacting current ones. But this does not mean you are unworthy of love – it couldn’t be further from the truth!

Relationships are the meeting of two minds, the sharing of separate histories.

Whilst you yourself must do the work to overcome personal ‘baggage’ and learn to love yourself, relationships are the meeting of two minds, the sharing of separate histories. You are both held and free, and in the safety of your relationship, should feel safe and honoured in your need to address fears and concerns with one another.

Indeed, sometimes it takes someone loving you to give you the confidence to make that step. As nice as it would be to say we should all be empowered to feel comfortable in our own skins, often the boulders in the way are deeply embedded in the dirt – yes, get started with the shovel, but some things really are a two-person job.

This does not mean that you should rely on your partners involvement in all aspects, but having their support undoubtedly makes the work that bit easier to shoulder.

Image: @priscilladupreez via Unsplash

Should we be concerned, then, with the prevalence of this self-love-first mantra? I believe that potentially we should.

It is arguably the complete opposite of self-love to deny oneself connection, or to discourage others from entering into relationships just because one or both parties haven’t got themselves completely figured out.

Whilst it must be acknowledged that the impact of certain kinds of ‘baggage’, fear and trauma impacts every person and relationship differently, as cliché as it is to say, we’re all works in progress. And how we love ourselves can set the bar for how other people love us in return.

If we always endeavour to be kind and compassionate, both to ourselves and others, then we are far more likely to demand that treatment from those around us.

I believe we would all then be completely capable of loving others, even as they also learn to love themselves. We are all worthy of love, no matter what stage of life or self-acceptance we are in, and it is important we all learn to support each other as we each take steps in that personal journey.

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