“You can’t really love someone else until you love yourself.” This is one of the memes that bothers me the most when I see it floating around Instagram, decorated in the guise of a helpful quote. I’d like to posit that it does more harm than good.
This idea makes people (read: women) feel even more pressure to have it all figured out and to have achieved some level of perfection -- whether it be emotional, physical or spiritual -- before they are “ready” to get into a relationship.
You CAN love other people, and even that special someone, no matter where you’re at in life. This quote presumes that we have total control over the timing of our lives.
Newsflash: we don’t! The universe always has plans and is acting in our best interest. To stubbornly stick to a timeline of how you thought your life would work out, or to wrench your life into an arbitrary set of parameters, is downright painful.
I chose not to accept society’s timeline for my life, and I couldn’t be happier. When I moved to New York City, I had been in a relationship that wasn’t serving me. Before him, I had been in a relationship that gutted me. I was determined that when I moved down here, I would have a few years of singledom and focus on my career (cue the lights and music!). But the universe laughed in my face and put my husband in my path on DAY TWO of living here.
He and I were actually trying to avoid getting into another relationship, but we both felt that this was a big love we were working with, and we chose to honor that, rather than the “rational” option of spending time alone and working on ourselves.
When you find that person who you want to be in a committed relationship with, you can grow together and guide each other. The dreadful quote above essentially assumes that you stop growing, and that loving yourself is a finite thing that you can achieve, and then move on to the next marker. Loving ourselves is a journey. Expanding your relationship to yourself is a journey. A long-term relationship is a journey.
If you are put in the path of another loving soul and you are drawn to each other, please don’t turn it down because someone on the internet made you feel that you’re not ready. Make that decision for yourself. That person may be sent your way to hold your hand on the spiritual path, or to be a teacher for you -- for better or for worse.