Debunking The Myth: You Must Love Yourself First to Find Someone Who Loves You - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content

Debunking The Myth: You Must Love Yourself First to Find Someone Who Loves You

Just because you keep hearing the same thing from different people over and over again, doesn’t make it true. This is especially true when it comes to beliefs. Today, I’m going to de-bunk a commonly held belief that is causing a lot of damage to people, especially those who are struggling when it comes to self-love.

You’ve heard it all over the place: “You’ve got to love yourself first to find someone who loves you.” And “if you want to be loved, you’ve got to love yourself first.” And “you’ve got to love yourself first… You’ve got to be ok on your own before you can be ok with someone else.” And “you’ve got to love yourself first, because until you love yourself, you will never have a loving relationship.” And “you cannot expect someone else to love you, if you don’t love yourself.” This relationship cliche that you need to love yourself first before anyone else can love you is now treated as an unquestionable sacred truth. And not only is it not true, it causes people extreme pain and causes them to approach self-love from a totally wrong angle. 

In order to shoot this concept to the ground, I’m going to go point by point.

  1. No truly self-loving person would ever say this. Why? Because a self-loving person recognizes that the need for other people and the need to be loved by them is an important need. One they cannot put on pause. They would never expect themselves to be an independent island unto themselves, where they shut down their need to be loved by others in order to try to do that independently. They would never put that need for others on pause (as if that were even possible) so as to require themselves to accomplish a feat first. A self-loving person realizes that a crucial part of loving yourself, is to directly meet your needs, including the needs that involve others, such as specifically seeking out the experience of being loved by others. 
  2. A much more objective truth than this one, is that fundamentally there is no self and other. Self is a distinction that is either useful or not useful, depending on the situation. If the ultimate truth is that we are all one, because we are all made of the same conscious energy, there is no difference between loving yourself and loving something else, at the end of the day, every form of love is self-love. 
  3. When it comes to the law of mirroring, often called the law of attraction, people love to oversimplify things. They don’t understand the complexity of a person’s overall vibration. Because of this, they logically deduce that if someone does not love themselves, they cannot be a match to someone who loves them. But this is not true. It is far more nuanced. For example, a person’s desire is a part of their vibration and so, if a person desires to be loved, this desire is also serving as a point of attraction. Or for example, if a person pours a lot of love into something else or someone else in their life, this frequency of love serves as a point of attraction where love will be reflected back at them through others. Or for example, a person does not hate all of themselves, only parts of themselves. They are likely to experience rejection from others for these parts of themselves, while being valued for the parts they, themselves are not in rejection of.
    On top of this, we learn to love ourselves, or not, by virtue of the mirroring we received in our childhood and by virtue of the nature of the relationships other people had with us and each other growing up. Children are not born hating themselves or acting against themselves. They build a negative self-concept and detrimental relationship patterns through unloving relationships. If the law of mirroring were as simple as we like to make it, a child would not be a match to anything but loving relationships.     
  4. A person cannot exist in a vacuum. But when we say that you have to love yourself first, we act as if it is possible to live in a vacuum. You can’t press pause on relationships because all life is, is a series of relationships. Throughout the whole process of developing self-love, you will be in a relationship with a plethora of different people. Remember that a romantic monogamous partnership is not the only relationship there is. It’s just your biggest mirror for what you reject, suppress and deny and what you own, identify with and like about yourself. Your process of developing self-love, will be taking place while other people either love you and value you or reject you and abuse you or anything in-between. It isn’t a one-two step process. As a human, you are a social species. You cannot exist as an island. 
    So much of this belief is a smokescreen for relational trauma. When people go through very specific relational trauma, believing that they can be an island unto themselves (and never be powerless or in pain again due to needing something from someone else) feels empowering and safer. So, believing they have all the power in their hands regarding love or that they only really need love from themselves, is a feel-good thought for them. It is a feel-good thought because it prevents them from having to face their past wounding and also the vulnerability inherent to relationships.
  5. The process of developing self-love is a process and it’s a process that is lifelong. Self-love is not something that you do and then it is done. Acting as if there is some end point to self-love, after which your accomplishment of self-love will make it so you can be loved, means you don’t understand what self-love is. To love yourself, is to take all parts of yourself, especially those parts that you are in rejection of, and see, hear, feel and understand them. To take positive ownership of them, so that you can value and appreciate them and do the right thing by them, thereby building an internal system built on love and trust, rather than going against yourself. This is a practice that does not end all the days of your life and is not simple to master. Just take one thing you really dislike about yourself. How easy is it for you to see, hear, feel, understand, value and appreciate that thing so as to positively own it? What if I told you that you will never have someone who loves you, until you do that? Self-love is not easy. And just like a scientist is likely to keep honing their experiments and theories until they die, the vast majority of people, even those who make self-love the focused practice of their life, will still be trying to master self-love on their death beds. You are not going to show up in any relationship as a perfected being.
  6. You cannot deny that a great many times, a person learns to love themselves BY someone else loving them. Sometimes a person learns to value something they reject in themselves BY someone else valuing it. For example, a person may have grown up in a culture where their hair type was considered terrible. Then they move to a different culture, one that loves and even prefers their hair the way it is naturally, and because of this, they come to love their hair, the very thing about them they once hated. Or for example, a person may have learned a pattern of abusive self-talk and only realize this once they are around someone who speaks to them positively and lovingly and as a result, they change their abusive self-talk. If it were only ever possible for someone to love you, if you already love you, or value something in you if you already value it, none of these stories would exist. They simply could not occur. Never underestimate this universe’s ability to bring you the healing element, and the healing element may just be someone who loves you. Other people loving us DOES play a role in us learning to love ourselves. If it didn’t, we would not have ended up in this self-hating place to begin with.
  7. When people are desperate to be loved, it means they are starving of an actual resource that people actually need in order to be able to survive and thrive. This means they are depleted. When you tell them that they need to go figure out how to love themselves first, this is the emotional equivalent of telling someone who is desperate to be touched (another human need) to go sit in the corner and learn how to touch themselves. Or telling someone who is severely undernourished that they need to learn how to grow food themselves first before someone else will give them food. This belief is actually a form of cruelty. Most people only really understand how cruel this is if they think about a child standing in front of them, emotionally starving for love. And them imagine telling this child, “I can only love you if you go figure out how to love yourself first!”
  8. Your ability to love yourself or even to take love in, does not determine other people’s ability or lack thereof to do so. The choice to love is something that is in each one of our hands. If you don’t believe me, think of a time you may have loved a pet, no matter what they did or didn’t do. No matter how young or old they were. No matter how well behaved or ill behaved. Have you ever had a person in your life who you know didn’t love themselves? Did that make it so you could not love them? The responsibility in a relationship is not all on your shoulders. Other people are not sitting around powerless to love until suddenly, you loving yourself makes them able to love.     

Loving others and being loved by others and practicing the art of self-love, are all things that will be taking place simultaneously. So now I’m going to tell you where the idea that self-love makes for better relationships with others does hold water. If you are in rejection of aspects of you, the law of mirroring will reflect that to you, most likely by other people rejecting that aspect of you. Probably not all the people in your life, but enough to make you conscious of the part of you that you are in rejection of. If you do not love yourself, you are going to make all kinds of choices for your life that are not the best choices for you, this includes choosing people and staying in relationship with people who are not the best for you. And endlessly trying to make the people who remind you of the people who hurt you and didn’t love you, be the very ones to value and love you. And maintaining the adaptations that you made to unloving relationships in the past, which bends you towards only being able to fit into or create unloving relationship dynamics… People who do not practice love towards you. Self-love drastically improves your point of attraction relative to loving relationships. And it causes you to make drastically better choices for yourself, including choices that cause you to end up in better, more loving relationships. If you want to learn more about self-love, you can pick up a copy of my book that is quite literally titled How to Love Yourself, it is also available as an audio book. I also offer an e-course specifically on self-love if that would interest you.

Don’t go down the unnecessary rabbit hole of hopelessness that pops open the minute you hear you have to love yourself first for someone to love you. There are plenty of people who have a long way to go when it comes to self-love, and whom are in loving and healing relationships. Loving, feel good relationships are not reserved for perfect people, as if only being in a state of self-love makes you worthy of or a match to a good relationship. The fact that you do not love yourself, which is already painful enough, does not mean that you are incapable of finding love, period. The End!


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