Why you’ll never be able to love anyone in your life if you don’t do this first.
“It can be difficult to communicate with and love a self-loathing partner – particularly if he or she insists on reading the worst into things you say, or relying too much on you to fill a void, simply because their projecting their own feelings of inadequacy onto you.”
I am that self-loathing partner — the one who reads the worst into what my partner says and the one who shuts down his successes and triumphs, all because I’m unable to deal with my own feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth.
I was blind to my partner’s needs and blamed him for causing our relationship to deteriorate, rather than questioning if I was the one at fault for allowing my insecurities to get in the way.
This realisation didn’t come easily — but amidst all the arguments, the pain and the hurt, I had to face facts and accept the cold, hard, ugly truth about myself: that if I continued to let my insecurities about my self worth bleed into my relationships, I may never be able to love anyone else again.
I came to realise that it’s impossible to love anyone — let alone your partner — if you don’t at first learn to love yourself.
Without learning to love yourself first, it’s easy to let your insecurities manifest into negative traits and habits like narcissism, self-pity, depression and sabotage (for yourself and others). It’s easy to lose yourself in your partner’s world, comparing your successes with his or hers, and berating yourself when you fall short. It might be well and good when it’s only playing in your head, but often insecurities have a way of seeping through the cracks.
My partner for example would tell me about his day at work and his career triumphs and wins, but as I swam in self-pity and self-hatred, I always responded negatively, telling him about my shortcomings and incompetencies rather than celebrating and supporting his goals and wins.
I was angry, critical and defiant of his happiness, refusing to think that anyone could have so much when I had nothing. It left him feeling unsupported and unloved. It was never even meant to be about me — and yet I made it so. I tried desperately to make myself feel better by shutting the other person down, and by doing so had forgotten that relationships are meant to be partnerships, not competition. It’s not possible to love if you feel like you’re constantly competing with one another.
I cry out for acceptance from people to feel like I’m worth loving — when really all I need is to gain acceptance from myself.
I grew up hating myself because I felt I never belonged or was accepted. I was surrounded by beautiful people and was reminded constantly I wasn’t. I was told I wouldn’t amount to anything and would never achieve. These words took a toll on the young and impressionable me. Eventually, I grew up with a shocking level of self-confidence and compensated by clamouring for other people’s acceptance and approval before I felt good about who I was.
This approval seeking behaviour meant I constantly used other people as a reflection of my own self worth. For a long time, I sought affirmation and reassurance from my partner to tell me that I was doing a good job, that I was enough, beautiful and worth loving. In the end even that took its toll on him.
After all, how could he could ever expect to love someone who didn’t even know how to love herself?
It takes courage and a lot of mental work to challenge a mindset that’s been moulded with years of deep-rooted insecurity and self-loathing.
But it can be done.
I acknowledge I am insecure, full of self-loathing and pity that it negatively impacts my ability to have close, loving and strong relationships. I am aware and accepting of this truth— and it doesn’t make me any less of a person.
I know that I need to learn to love myself before I can love someone else.
Now that I have more time to myself, I’ve started to trust my own voice and to challenge the part of me who resists it. Yes, I have inadequacies and feelings of self-doubt here and there, but I remind myself of how far I’ve already come, how much I’ve endured and the qualities of mine which make me smile.
You’re not going to encounter any other relationship in your life that will be as raw, as open and as beautiful as the one you’re going to have with yourself. It’s a relationship that you first must build before you’re able to build with another person. Yes, it’s tough, but it’s 100% worth it.