Love Yourself to Fully Love Your Partner
“You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” -Buddha
When we're in a love relationship, most of us try to put focused time and effort into loving and supporting our partner. We show our love in different ways: by spending time with each other, listening when they need someone to talk to, doing little and big things to make their life better, encouraging them when they're having a bad day, giving them medicine and chicken soup when they are sick, or being affectionate with hugs and caresses.
In the same ways that we show our love to others, it's just as, if not more, important to do these same things for ourselves- like regularly spending time alone to 'be' for a while and listen to our inner whisperings, resting and sleeping when we're sick, taking a hot bath or getting a massage to reduce physical tension, or pursuing our own personal interests and dreams.
We open up space to love ourselves when we slow down and take care of ourselves in the middle of life's deadlines and responsibilities. The love we give to ourselves is the fuel we have to actively love our partner.
You can't give away what you don't have. Loving someone else without truly loving yourself can lead to difficult issues down the road.
I've had some clients who talk about 'losing' themselves in their marriage over time and lost sight of what's important to them. They invest too much of themselves just to 'make' their partner happy. Yet over time, they come to realize that their partner isn't making the same effort to tune into them and give them the same care and respect. They begin to feel taken advantage of, and become resentful of the imbalance.
Another potential problem is that with the lack of self-love comes a lack of genuine self-confidence. In relationships, self-doubt gets in the way of telling their partner what they need. They may have a fear of saying 'no' and setting a boundary, or difficulty believing that what they want at any moment is just as important as what their partner wants.
Barbara De Angelis writes, "If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself."
We know that when both people put energy into making their relationship work, it makes a difference. In that same way, giving loving attention to yourself makes a huge difference in your relationship. It opens space for both of you to positively grow as individuals and in your partnership; it opens up the affection, tenderness and intimacy you can experience together. Peace..