Since we can feel chemistry and passion so quickly and effortlessly for someone else, that means staying with that person should be easy, right? Except, most of us eventually feel a fading of that initial passion, chemistry, and excitement in a relationship. What do we have left after these feelings pass?
Happily ever after?
When the relationship hits trouble, we sometimes feel tricked, lied to, and wonder if we can make it work. We wonder if it will last. Then, we busy our minds with thoughts of what the other person is doing, why they do the things they do, and why they are the way they are. Our thoughts get us feeling stuck and defeated. We get so focused on the other person that we completely forget about ourselves. A great relationship with others starts with a great relationship with yourself.
When the relationship starts sinking
Having a relationship with yourself may sound like something that doesn’t make sense. In our culture, relationships carry so much weight and pressure that it sometimes feels as though we’re drowning in them. When we feel like we’re drowning, we look to our partner, our friend, or our family member to save us. Then, we get upset when they don’t save us. The difficult truth here is that they can’t. The people in our lives can support us, aid us, and love us. What they cannot do is save us…especially from ourselves. This is the terrifying part. If they can’t save us, who can?
Do you know how to swim?
We can expedite the destruction of our relationships by expecting that others will keep us from drowning when they may be drowning just like we are. Coming up for air starts with ourselves. It starts with knowing and loving ourselves enough to confront and realize that we’ve been drowning in the shallow end of a pool because we didn’t know we had feet. If we don’t see that we have feet, we can’t stand up and support ourselves. We may look to anyone and everyone else to pull us out of the water and save us when we feel like we’re drowning. Expecting others to save us can cripple and destroy relationships, and take a toll on those around us.
What does this mean?First and foremost, it means to begin by seeing that we may be drowning. We need to see that we’re in the shallow end of our own pool. Then, we need to look down, see we have feet, and then believe that those feet will support us when we stand up. For healthy relationships, we need to see that we can support ourselves, and choose to love ourselves while choosing to love others.
Is it worth the risk?
This sounds simple, but it never feels easy. One of the most difficult things to do is decide to stand on our own and choose to love ourselves and others. To love is to be open, to be open is to be exposed, and to be exposed means that someone can hurt us. We know this because we may have been hurt in the past. This is an uncomfortable truth. In order to love ourselves and someone else, we choose to be open and exposed, and take the risk that someone may not love us back.
The interesting piece here is that when we love and are open to ourselves, the pain from a rejection or heartbreak may not hit as hard. We can see those we love also have hardships and insecurities. It may still hurt, but it doesn’t completely take over our lives. Furthermore, we know we can swim to shore and stand up if we choose to.
What about you?
So how are you loving yourself today? We are human. There will be mistakes and we will fall down. We worry and we expect. We have flaws and pitfalls, but we don’t have to become these things. As humans, we are more than the things we don’t like about ourselves. We are also our strengths, capabilities, and talents. We are all of these things combined and we are worth loving all of these things together; the good and the bad. While it may not be as easy as automatically loving ourselves, we can choose daily to be kind and open to who and where we are. We are worth being loved by others, and we are worth being loved by ourselves. In our worthiness, we can choose love daily.
For more content on relationships and self-love, follow the links below:
- (2015, November 17). Skills for healthy romantic relationships: Joanne Davila [Video file].
- Finding Love: How to love yourself first
- You have to love yourself before you can love someone else
Contributed by Lindsay Perry, M.Ed, LPC Intern #79863
Clinical Supervision by Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT-S, LPC-S