A relationship is not a fix for a lack of confidence.
We’re all pretty desperate for love. Desperate might be a strong word, but we want to end up in a relationship with a fabulous person.
We want to find someone, live out the romantic fairytale, and ride off into the sunset with our Prince Charming. The problem with this mentality is that it focuses too much on finding love, and not at all on how to love yourself. Self-love is the beginning of everything.
You can’t have the perfect ending without self-love. To be clear, there is no way to find love without loving yourself first.
A relationship is not a fix for a lack of confidence; it is not the thing that is going to make you feel whole. You don’t need a boyfriend to love you because you don’t love yourself. Only you can make yourself complete.
This takes a lot of work, reflection, and self-awareness. It takes perseverance and the wisdom to accept that you are a flawed human being.
Once you take the time to fall in love with yourself — the marvelous, amazing, brilliant person that you are — you gain the tools you need to find the right partner. You have to be the person you want to be to find the love you want. Here’s how.
1. Be the person you’d want to date
Prince Charming doesn’t just manifest and take you as you are — the hot mess who parties too much, can’t hold down a job, and is overall pretty directionless. That person is not cute.
He wants a partner who has her life together and is prepared to be the equal he deserves. This is one of the tenants that Andrea Miller, CEO of YourTango, points out in her book, Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love.
Don’t go totally nuclear. Saying you need to change yourself for a better life is not anti-feminist — it is a realist’s perspective. I’m not saying you should change yourself for a man, I’m saying you should change yourself for yourself. You need to be ready for the relationship you crave as much as your future husband needs to be ready for you.
“From taking care of yourself physically to nurturing those traits and interpersonal skills that make you feel special and lovable, your relationship will benefit from you being healthy, happy, and empowered,” Miller writes.
In the happiest, healthiest relationships, both partners are strong, committed and ready to take on life together as a team. Both partners can pull their weight in the relationship and don’t need the other to handle the burden. That kind of self-discovered strength can only come from self-love.
2. Self-love is born from acceptance and empathy
Loving yourself doesn’t just mean neutralizing your insecurities and choosing to be “fine” with your flaws. Definitely not. It is about owning those and loving them.
Loving yourself means demanding for yourself a true level of acceptance and unconditional love from both yourself and your partner. It means letting go of your need to control and to just love. It is about being the person you want to be and having a partner you loves all of you.
“Imagine if you let go of your itch to fix, judge, improve or control your partner. Imagine if you replaced judgment with compassion and empathy. Tremendous empowerment and liberation come from loving someone — and being loved — for who we really are,” writes Miller.
With all of that self-acceptance comes a deep-rooted need for empathy and understanding. Letting go of judgment and insecurity is easier said than done. By honing your empathetic skills, taking a step back, and asking yourself, “Am I approaching this situation with empathy and self-love?” you can get closer to a place of full centered, radical acceptance.
3. You have to love all of yourself, all of your partner, and everything in between
Here is the kicker: In true, unequivocal self-love comes the most profound freedom. Nothing can touch you when you know with absolute certainty that you are the greatest. You cannot be broken down. It is the pathway to complete clarity of mind, body, and soul.
As Miller writes, if you choose to truly accept yourself and your partner without judgment, “you will discover how amazing it feels to have your heart expanded by an abundance of love and compassion for your partner and yourself.” When you love yourself, your partner loves you, you love your partner, and your partner loves himself; that is one giant, heaping, momentous pile of love.
It’s not to say that relationships don’t take a lot of work and aren’t a constant reevaluation of desires, needs, and happiness. But when you come from a place of intense, unconditional love, you can face any hurdle with grace.
Self-love is the foundation on which you build your happiest relationship. You don’t come into healthy relationships without a good, hard dose of confidence and growth. Start with self-love and the rest will follow.