You Shouldn’t Have to Love Yourself First

Mental Health Awareness Month brings up so many important topics about mental illness and how their affect our confidence, self-esteem, thoughts, and moods. Your mental health affects your relationship with yourself, which in turn affects your relationships with your friends, family, and significant other. There is a common phrase of “You have to love yourself before you can love someone else”. I hate that phrase.


I don’t think you have to love yourself before entering a relationship. I would agree that it makes things run much smoother if you do love yourself and have all your issues dissected before entering a relationship. I’m personally still working on developing a healthy self esteem and there are many ways this manifests in my relationship. I always worry I’m not enough, that he’ll go looking somewhere else for better. It makes me paranoid and hard for me to trust him. I harbor on the mistakes I make in my relationship and get down on myself.


Not loving yourself makes you more willing to put up with disrespectful behavior from partners and that is where the common phrase of ‘you have to love yourself first’ comes from. I think it was just bad luck that I met someone who didn’t appreciate me before I ended up meeting someone who was very kind and respectful to me. Dating someone who treasured me gave me a guideline of exactly how I wanted to be treated in a relationship. If I had this experience before meeting someone who didn’t value me then I probably would have left very early on. I figured out how I wanted to be treated and the next guy I met is now my long term boyfriend.


Because I feel an absence of self love, I don’t want anyone else to experience that. Just because I don’t love myself doesn’t mean I can’t love anyone else. In fact, it motivates me to make sure I do show love to others. You can still be compassionate to others even when you’re still learning to be compassionate to yourself. Consider a mistake where you were hard on yourself and what you might say to yourself. Now consider your friend made that same mistake and what you might say to them. The attitude and thought process is completely different. It’s the same concept with showing love to yourself and to others.


Being in a relationship helps shed a spotlight on your positive traits and as your partner loves you, they teach you how to love yourself. You’re reassured that you are enough and that your partner chooses to be with you not anyone else. Your partner compliments you making you take note of something positive about you. My boyfriend once wrote a list of all the things he loves about me. It listed over 40 different things!! I can’t even tell you 40 things about myself much less anywhere close to things I might actually like about myself.


So No, I don’t think you have to love yourself first. I think you can still be good at loving other people. I think other people can help you learn to love yourself.  


39 thoughts on “You Shouldn’t Have to Love Yourself First”

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience. Many people, including myself, are in relationships with a significant other who has been dealing with depression in some form. Your boyfriend is a wonderful example of a man who accepts you and truly loves you. May God continue to bless your relationship.

        1. Yup. So very often it is just a play of the words. I am very comfortable with what I am. And am living in deep gratitude for all His blessings 🙏🙏 and I am open to learning and growing ..
          Love and light

  2. I was going to bring up exactly what you said in your last paragraph as an argument against the the quote you based this upon. My own mental illness makes it virtually impossible for me to experience self-love or to trust people truly love me, despite others believing my illness is rooted in too MUCH self-love.

  3. An interesting perspective which I am sure many will recognize. When I was in my twenties I experienced a change of leadership at work. Within a few months, I was being treated for depression. Eventually, I solved the problem by moving on and found a more rewarding leader. However, this was not before I discovered that the absence of several other colleagues for periods of time was due to being treated for the same thing. I know this does not appear to be directly linked to your earlier experience but I do think very often we tend to think there is something wrong with ourselves when it may well be a case of needing to walk away from somebody else. OK, rant over 🙂

  4. A different perspective, shall surely think about it 😇
    But If you don’t love yourself how will anyone else love you ? Sometimes it is just semantics. One can get lost in words. Maybe loving yourself is just accepting yourself as you are? Being comfortable with our own imperfections?
    And if I don’t love myself it is going to be difficult for me to love others
    But maybe this post is purely from one angle and I am talking about all inclusive love.

  5. This is a very refreshing perspective. I’m sure my husband would completely agree with this post. I’m married to a man who struggles with many of the same issues of self and I’m the one who reassures him. After 10+yrs. I still feel like I’m starting from square one every single day. I LOVE showing him love! But it’s also draining at times, it makes him uncomfortable & he doesn’t believe it about himself so he tends to reject or make light of my words of affirmation, etc (at times). As amazing as my hubby is, I often imagine how much stronger (& easier) our relationship would be if he did the work to love himself and deep dive into the roots of his pain before dating/marrying me. This article/entry helps me see things from his perspective at an angle I hadn’t pondered so THANK YOU! 🤗🙂

  6. I love this post. I think in the end though? The important thing to remember is the list of those 40 things your boyfriend loves about you always. Regardless of your future and your past. I think the quote loving yourself before you love someone else? Is more of like a tidbit on how people often impact how we see ourselves. Yes they are people who can show you how to love yourself and inspire self worth and self love but they are also those who break you and inspire self hatred. So I think it’s important to accept yourself for who you are with all your imperfections but also know that you can love even if you do not love yourself? And after you’ve been taught and shown how to love yourself? To never forget it.

  7. Some days, I have a hard time with self love. I use” life experiments” as a way to cope with these feelings of unworthiness. When I am feeling low, I put extra effort into my relationship with my partner. I make sure to always do everything form as place of love. This helps me with my self esteem because it raises my frequency. It also releases oxytocin which facilitates mental and physical health.

  8. I agree. I didn’t love myself when I met my husband. I was in such family turmoil that I didn’t even realize that until after the fact. I loved him enough to keep fighting and he loved me enough for the both of us. He still does when I need him to. Thank you for sharing 🌹

  9. I hate that phrase, too. Not only is it close to suggesting that you’re not allowed to love someone else until you have become perfect (which will never happen to any of us), but it also puts all the blame on the person who struggles with their opinion of self—further compounding the problem.

  10. Here’s a decent take on this, which one of my Tumblr contacts reposted earlier today:

    “Your purpose in life is not to love yourself but to love being yourself.

    “If [your] goal is to love yourself, then your focus is directed inward toward yourself, and you end up constantly watching yourself from the outside, disconnected, trying to summon the ‘correct’ feelings towards yourself or fashion yourself into something you can approve of.

    “If your goal is to love being yourself, then your focus is directed outward towards life, on living and making decisions based on what brings you pleasure and fulfillment.

    “Be the subject, not the object. It doesn’t matter what you think of yourself. You are experiencing life. Life is not experiencing you.”

  11. I like your post. It makes sense to me. I agree that if it were a binary choice then perhaps the absolute of “loving oneself” is not a pre-requisite for loving another; at least in my experience (having gone through stages of self loathing, in the past, and no doubt in the future). However, as difficult as it is to unconditionally love oneself, continually , I do feel that, for me at least, the ability to try and practice self kindness does indeed allow me to love others more deeply. I wonder if the emphasis to the cliche of “one must love oneself in order to love another” could be transformed into a more obvious practical statement of “the endeavor to be kind to oneself, helps with loving another”? At least that’s my interpretation of the former cliche. I just thought I’d share this reflection to your lovely, and insightful post 🙂

  12. Loved this. I agree it certainly helps if you’re in a place where you do love yourself but it shouldn’t be a necessity when entering a relationship.

  13. I do agree you don’t have to love yourself before you love others. But, I do believe that in order to fully express organic love… to have an even better connection to others, starts with the connection and understanding of ourselves.

    I love my daughter… and I loved her father well (while we were married). But, since I’ve gain a better understanding of who I am since leaving him, I can definitely say that I would have had a better relationship with him if I knew what I know now about myself.

    Thanks for sharing!

  14. People make a big thing out of mental illness but say nothing about a broken heart. They’re given drugs to modify the brain but they have to continue on with the emotional suffering done to them. If people were more loving towards each other in society the pain would not effect the brain.

  15. I mean of course you don’t have to love yourself first to be in a relationship and i do believe that being in a relationship can teach one how to love.
    but here’s the keyword that you’re missing.. Healthy… major key.
    There are enough humans that will realize someone they are interested in doesn’t love their own being and they take advantage of the person. It’s sad.

    Sometimes ppl dont love them self but are super loving to others. Let the wrong person figure that out, they will use that person to the dirt.

  16. My husband and I met at very low points in our lives. You’re right: we did inspire each other to be better. We had a pretty rocky relationship before we started improving ourselves, but we grew together and have a very deep bond.

    Very insightful.

  17. Hey so I am one of those people who say you have to love yourself first. Now, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have the bandwidth to love someone else if you don’t love yourself first. What it actually means is you will have the most healthy relationship if you love yourself first. We are always working on our self love and if you love yourself first it will help give you a a better shot at someone who deserves you. I am so glad to hear that you have a boyfriend who has that many wonderful things to share about yourself. He sounds like a keeper! Keep working on loving yourself though, that action cannot be overlooked. It is very important! Blessings your way!

  18. thank you for sharing your amazing posts it’s really informative. i think you should love yourself or you’ll make it hard to who gonna love you cuz those people its really hard to convince .

  19. I never found anyone I could talk to as I was growing up that was worth trying for. Whoever I picked as my girlfriend, looked at me & didn’t want me since I had a high metabolism & could use allergy meds & pain meds so much because my body wasn’t working correctly without the meds I was taking. Now I found someone through someone else & found what I wanted through trial & error & by being a very chatty person. Anyway what you talked about in not loving yourself first can work but in all things you work at it until you get it. That would be just like walking or running & learned it from being taught. You can’t learn without a teacher. That’s why if someone else helps you out, you are very receptive to what he has to say. You learn if you are taught & also can ask questions when there is something that you don’t understand. It took me a lot of time when I had to work through a lot in my life. Thanks for listening!

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