On learning to love yourself first.

I grew up all my life hearing that loving oneself was prerequisite to being able to give and receive love. I've heard this mostly from the pulpit, directed mostly at women; nevertheless, it's echoed in nihilistic circles with the same conviction.

"Love yourself first" has never sat well with me.

Rather than a statement that stems from a place of genuine concern for the recipient's wellbeing, "love yourself first" has always sounded like coded language to me. It comes across as blame, heaped primarily, though not exclusively, on the shoulders of women. 

We tell women to love themselves first when we really mean, stop allowing their lovers to take advantage of them. 

We tell women to love themselves first as a way to cope with their singlehood, a status that we imply is evidence of personal failure.

In the process of telling women to love themselves first, we get the double-whammy of appearing concerned AND we get to absolve ourselves of blame for contributing to their feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, self-loathing in the first place, because if they'd love themselves, then they wouldn't feel that way


I wish we would stop telling people that it's a stepping stone toward fulfilling friendships, romantic partnerships. People don't have to learn to love themselves in isolation. The pervasive thoughts that they are too much, and not enough, and not worthy were learned and solidified in community. And community, be it 1 person or 12, can also facilitate unlearning of those same harmful beliefs. 

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