This article is an excerpt from Erica Gordon's new tell-all dating advice book, entitled Aren't You Glad You Read This: A Complete How-To Guide For Singles With a History of Failed Relationships Who Want Their Next Relationship to Succeed.
Your relationship with yourself sets the bar for every relationship in your life. In other words: if you've been struggling to maintain happy and healthy relationships, it's probably because you aren't fully happy or healthy yourself.
I'm sure you've wondered what type of partner your perfect match is seeking. There are certain qualities in particular that are most attractive and transcend everything else, such as a person's level of self-love and their ability to self-validate.
When your state of mind is clouded with insecurities and feelings of inadequacy, your romantic relationships will be dysfunctional and doomed. Your insecurities are more influential on your partner than you think. You'll exhaust your partner with your constant need for validation, attention, and reassurance. Your low self-esteem can wear on your partner as he or she continuously witnesses your inner struggles and your self-loathing.
Self-love is learned and practiced. Without first mastering self-love, your romantic relationships will suffer a noticeable disconnect. When you both love yourselves, however, that's when you'll be able to establish a genuine connection and develop an unshakable bond. On the other hand, here are seven unfortunate things that happen in any romantic relationship you enter into if you don't love yourself:
1. By Not Loving Yourself, You Create Extra Work For Your Partner
By not loving yourself, you'll create extra work for your partner because they'll have to pick up that slack and carry your weight. When you struggle with self-doubt and low self-esteem, your partner will have to work extra hard to make you happy. In order to make you smile, feel good, or feel loved, they'll have to work. Sometimes — despite their best efforts to give you validation, positivity, love, and support — it won't be enough for you. Imagine how frustrating that would be, and understand that eventually they might leave you because of it.
2. You Accept Poor Treatment
Do you have friends who let their partners walk all over them? Doesn't it frustrate you when you're forced to witness their acceptance of poor treatment? This is what happens when someone enters into a relationship before they've fallen in love with themselves. They're more likely to accept abusive, neglectful, or inappropriate treatment because they don't believe they deserve better. The most intuitive people are the ones who avoid dating and relationships until they love themselves, because they know that this is the only way they'll attract a partner who treats them right.
Mathew Hussey, a renowned dating expert and founder of Get the Guy, explains that people who lack self-love live in fear that they'll be abandoned and lack intrinsic self-confidence, which leads to the acceptance of poor treatment. "When we don't have a strong internal sense of self-confidence, it usually leads to the feeling of 'I'm not worthy,' or feeling that we don't deserve this person," Hussey explains. "People who lack self-love tend to rate those they fall in love with higher than they rate themselves, which means they'll accept it when their partner constantly criticizes, acts selfishly, or doesn't give the love and effort they deserve. They may also be afraid to communicate their standards and stand up for what they want out of fear that their partner will withdraw or react negatively." So what's the best approach here? It's no surprise that Hussey's advice has to do with self-love, as he explains that we need to treat ourselves better. "The only way to escape this trap is to begin to treat yourself like your best friend again — as someone you genuinely want the best for and would do anything to protect and serve — and know that you always have value with or without a relationship in your life. If you don't get treated the way you deserve by your partner, it's not a relationship you need."
3. You Will Imagine That Things Are Worse Than They Actually Are
People who don't love themselves tend to imagine that things are going terribly in the relationship — and they'll mistakenly think that intentions and circumstances are worse than they actually are. This could simply be you projecting your self-hate and insecurities — something that doesn't happen if you love yourself. By believing in negative outcomes, you're attracting negative outcomes, and this is a common issue among those who self-loathe.
4. You Will Compare Your Relationship to Other Relationships, Instead of Being Grateful For Yours
Self-doubt will also cause you to compare the way your partner treats you to the way your friends' partners treat them, which is something you wouldn't do if you were a secure person. For example, perhaps your friend's partner bought them a fancy diamond watch for their birthday, and your partner did something much less extravagant for your birthday. You may be envious of your friend's lavish gift, but they could be envious of all of the quality time your partner gives to you on weekends. Your decision to compare and resent your partner's different behavior is another example of you projecting your insecurities. The best thing you can do is buy yourself some diamond earrings and treat yourself the way you want to be treated.
April Masini, relationship expert and founder of the Ask April advice column, has a similar mentality to relationship expert Matthew Hussey, in that she believes treating yourself well makes a world of difference. "When you buy something for yourself, you're setting a precedent of putting yourself first and making sure you're taken care of," Masini says. "Whenever you make a point of buying yourself nice clothes, fancy jewelry, a great gym membership, or fabulous shoes, it's because you're important — to you! Sending this message to yourself is the first step in letting others know that you take care of yourself, and that you expect others to treat you as well as you treat yourself." It should be noted that treating yourself to a gift instead of waiting to receive one from your partner is an important symbol of self-love.
5. The Longer It Takes You to Love Yourself, the Less "Sticky" You'll Be and the Weaker the Bond Will Be With Your Partner
My sticker analogy pertains perfectly to any debate over the importance of self-love. Imagine a brand new sticker that hasn't been used yet. (Perhaps this was you, as a child?) It's untouched, undamaged, unattached, and in perfect condition. It's super sticky. It could stick onto anything, and it would form a strong bond and happily stay put. However, every time you (the once-untouched sticker) get rejected, undervalued, and caught up in self-hate or accept poor treatment in a relationship, you lose some of your stickiness. We (the stickers) get less sticky every time we engage in negative thoughts, self-hate, self-sabotage, or dysfunctional relationships. The problem with losing your stickiness is that each time you attempt to stick onto someone new, it gets easier and easier to pull away because connections become harder and harder to form.
Just like a sticker that's pulled off the surface and been used, the connections you form won't be as strong as they once were. But if there were ever a way to somehow get sticky again, it would be through self-improving and self-betterment.
It's only when you truly love yourself that you can bring positivity into a relationship. It's usually those who have issues with themselves who will bring negativity into their relationships. Negativity is unattractive, and anyone who brings negative thoughts into their relationships is guaranteed to lose their partner's interest quite quickly.
Self-hate and negativity can pollute and stink up a room like nothing else, and nobody wants to spend their time in a smelly, negative room. If you've been wondering why you're single, this might be the answer.
Whether you realize it or not, your dysfunctional relationship with yourself is almost always going to be the reason your relationships don't work out, which is why mastering self-love should be your priority.
6. You Won't Be Able to Get Through the Day Without External Validation From Your Partner
A huge perk that comes with self-love is the ability to self-validate. There's something sexy and intriguing about a person who doesn't require validation from their partner to be happy. Imagine dating someone strong and independent, who doesn't need constant reassurance or feel the need to have their relationship broadcast all over social media. They trust in what you have with each other, they're not concerned with what others think, and they're secure with both themselves and with where the relationship is heading. When you don't require validation, you draw others in with your confidence.
That self-confidence and security doesn't stem from the approval of others; it comes from within. It comes from self-love. It builds from having passions, interests, plans, and stories — and from knowing who you are. It's your inherent ability to feel confident without the help of external, confidence-boosting triggers.
Sometimes, the reason someone doesn't require validation from his or her partner is because they're getting plenty of validation elsewhere. They're respected in their workplace, they're admired by their peers, and they wake up each morning feeling confident in who they are and what they stand for. They've finally achieved self-actualization. These secure and stable individuals tend to march to the beat of their own drum.
Those who validate themselves are able to do so because they truly love themselves: they've worked on themselves, bettered themselves, and developed a strong identity.
7. You'll Settle For Less
One of the main reasons to work on self-improvement and self-love is to ensure you don't settle for less. If you have high standards (which you should) and you haven't yet become who you want to be (the best version of you), then you'll end up settling for someone below your standards. This happens because you don't believe that you're good enough for the idealized partner you've been dreaming of.
It should go without saying that if you want to find Mr. or Mrs. Right, you need to first work on becoming Mr. or Mrs. Right.
We all have things we need to work on. For some of us, it's finding a career we love (and one we're good at). For others, it's the self-love that isn't where it needs to be. And for still others, it's things like being at an unhealthy weight or having unhealthy habits. Being single gives you the time to face these problems, give these problems your undivided attention, and work on them. Once accomplished, you can think to yourself, "Anyone would be lucky to date me!" . . . and that's when you're in a great position to start dating. Those who love themselves are in that position because they've worked on themselves for a long time. They're now internally happy, and they're therefore able to give their best selves to a partner.