If you’re single maybe you’ve been told this recently, and if you’re not single, then perhaps folks have moved on to, “When are you getting married?” or “When are you having kids?” Regardless of your status, people in our lives for some reason see an urgency to progress things even further and tell us how to make that happen. My favorite of the cliché advice and questions is by far, “You won’t find love until you love yourself”.
For years, I heard this unsolicited advice from so many people. It was always said with the best of intentions, intentions to encourage self-love, self-investment and betterment. But as a single person, after about the 5th time you’ve heard this, it starts to sound like annoying bullshit. You think, I do love myself! Shit, the longest relationship I’ve ever had is with myself. I’ve forgiven myself for shitty things I’ve done, underperformance, losses. I’m proud of my success in life thus far, my academic accomplishments, my career progress, etc. I treat myself well with a healthy diet and regular exercise. I’m totally Team ME.
“You have to love spending time with yourself if you expect someone else to love spending time with you.” Again, you consider the infinite hours you genuinely enjoy spending alone, years of solitude in a 1 bedroom spouseless, childless apartment. Years of being the only single friend on Saturday nights have you 100% comfortable with going to the movies, or sitting at the bar counter alone. What even is a wing man?
You’d love to dismiss and ignore this unsolicited advice but it’s said so frequently you can’t shake it. Why do people constantly assume you are single because you don’t love yourself? Are you giving off this energy in some way? Maybe you are? Maybe you are radiating insecurity by your actions and how you carry yourself. Maybe your desire for love and partnership is so strong it’s causing you to make some bad choices and those around you are misidentifying this as a lack of self-love.
First let me clarify by saying, there’s nothing wrong with really, really wanting a lasting relationship. Despite what anyone says, it’s not a crime to really want partnership and to be frustrated when things repeatedly don’t work out. It doesn’t make you desperate, or thirsty or needy of love because you lack self-love. If you are ambitious about your career and you strive toward goals, no one criticizes that. But if you are ambitious about finding love people wonder if you lack self-love. This is so aggravating and its bullshit!
But here are seven reasons why people around you might be misidentifying your ambitious attempts at love for a lack of self-love:
1. You invest more in partners than you do in yourself – i.e. loan them money you’ve been saving for yourself, update their resume before updating your own, etc.
2. It takes you too long to see that your partner is full of shit – i.e. you make excuses for when they treat you badly, you chose to interpret rude or tactless things as a misunderstanding
3. You’ve given your partner way too many second, third and fourth chances
4. You have nothing substantial in common (life goals, religion, desire for children, hobbies, etc) but you force insignificant commonalities like your mutual wearing of Converse shoes.
5. You wear your heart on your sleeve and in a relationship that can be construed as you giving away too much too fast (sex, expensive gifts, intimate life stories, etc.)
6. You are really open-minded and a lover of people, you give everyone a chance. As a result, every first date turns into a relationship for you. Friends and family may see this openness as a lack of standards due to a desperateness to be with anyone.
7. It’s taking you a really long time to get over a bad breakup. Friends and family don’t know the intimate details of the relationship that make it particularly hard for you to let go of. As a result, they don’t understand why you can’t move on. Maybe it’s a lack of self-love they think?
Or maybe it’s none of these things. Maybe you are going with the flow, waiting patiently for love, annoyed at its speed of arrival but none the less waiting, yet still this nagging advice finds you. It could be simply others projecting their own past issues onto you.
The truth is a lot of people have trouble finding love because they don’t truly love themselves. They hate themselves because they’ve wronged some past lover and ruined a potentially “perfect” future. They hate their weight, their straggly hair, their height, their income or whatever it is. Because they have these hang-ups they couldn’t find a successful healthy relationship until they resolved some of their internal issues. Because that was their story and it is so many people’s stories, they assume it must be your story too. But maybe it’s not your story, and it’s super annoying for people to assume.
So, to all my single friends out there, hang in there! Know that the advice givers mean well. Try not to take offense to offensive advice and know that it probably comes from a place of projection. In the meantime, remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking companionship and being a little frustrated when it seems to be showing up late.