Guest post by HokumGelpTexas
There was a post in r/faimprovement about what that old adage, “You must love yourself before you can be loved by others” means. I responded before hitting the sack only to find the next day that what I wrote really resonated with a lot of people. Here’s the meat of the thread. The whole thread can be read here: http://redd.it/161c9i
I don’t fully understand the “you must love yourself before you can be loved by others” thing.
Now, I do understand that a person who is hating on themselves and is a general downer is not fun to be around, and I have gotten well past that. I think I’m a pretty cool dude, but I still have this intense longing to be accepted and affectionate with a woman who I’m attracted to and want to be affectionate with (i.e. not just random girls or prostitutes). But it seems like the standard advice is that if only I “truly loved myself” I wouldn’t feel this way. That I’m seeking “external validation”. Does that viewpoint actually make sense and hold water, or is it just one of those things that people tell you just because it’s easy advice to give?
When I was younger, the whole “you gotta love yourself before you can love others” thing sounded like bullshit. But I’m older now and I’ve been down a few rough roads, and you know what? IT TOTALLY MAKES SENSE.
It’s like this: Let’s say that you aren’t exactly filled with self-love. You have a negative self image, your esteem is shit, and you have a lot of negative self-talk going through your head. And let’s say that for whatever reason, the girl of your dreams (for the purposes of this scenario, the girl of your dreams will be played by Christine Hendricks, because goddamn!youknowwhatI’msayin?) falls head over heels for you.
So there you are, lying next to the buxom redhead of your dreams, awake and thinking. Are you thinking to yourself, “I am a stone cold pimp!” NOPE. You’re going to be thinking, “How did I get this lucky? What the hell does she even see in me? There’s no way this is going to last.” And then, without even realizing it, you’re going to start sabotaging everything. You’ll grow distant. You’ll start to lose respect for her because somewhere deep in your mind is the thought, “How could someone like her ever love a loser piece of shit like me? She must be retarded.” You’re destined to fail.
The other side of the coin is that you end up with whatever partner you can get. You may want that girl of your dreams, but you don’t feel you deserve her, so you settle down with the weird girl who posts a lot in r/BeautyInDarkness and has encyclopedic knowledge of all of Sylvia Plath’s suicide attempts. You may not be crazy about her, but at least she’s with you, so you can proudly proclaim you have a girlfriend. And she won’t leave you because she has her own co-dependency issues to deal with. Now that you both have each other, neither one of you have to actually deal with the problems you have. Unless you wise up, you’ll think that this is what love is.
I hate to admit it, but I’ve been through some really bad relationships. We’re talking emotionally abusive, manipulative, crazy women here. And you know what? I felt like that was the best I could have. That I was even lucky to have those horrible bitches in my life. I ran my goddamn heart and soul through fucking broken glass for them. I worked so hard to make things good because I didn’t want to lose what I had.
There was another girl I was with for awhile. She wasn’t that hot in the physical sense, but she treated me better than any girl before or since. And you know what I did? I shit all over all of it. I became distant, treated her offhandedly, and practically lived up to the cliche of the loser boyfriend. If she hadn’t had her own esteem issues to deal with, I think she would’ve dumped me a couple years sooner than she did. (Years later, I saw her again and gave her the longest, most sincere apology I’ve ever gave anyone.)
I look back at those times and I’m embarrassed by it. Fucking angry too, if I’m being honest. I wish I could go back to my younger self and smack him around some. “Quit fucking around and get your shit together! You’re way more awesome than you realize and here you are squandering your potential! You’re too good to waste these good years like this!”
If I had “loved myself,” I never would’ve stood for the shitty treatment I got, and I never would’ve been a shitty boyfriend and husband to the girl who actually treated me like a king. I’m thankful that I’m on the right path now, but damn, I wish I had understood the memo years ago.