Do You Love You?


One of the most important precursors of a healthy love life is how you feel about you. Think of it this way, how you feel about and treat yourself will have lots to do with how you feel about and treat someone you love, and just as important, what you accept as treatment from him or her. Why the connection? Let’s find out.

The slightly weird but interesting thing about self-esteem is that it implies a relationship with yourself. The weird part comes into this discussion when you ask, who is relating to whom? Is the real me the one who gets to like and dislike me? Or is it the one who gets liked or disliked?

That particular question is fascinating but a little besides the point. The point is, you are entirely capable of having a relationship with you. How positive or negative that relationship is, is going to determine the quality of your love life.

Let’s take an obvious example. If you are in a relationship with someone who treats you badly and you’ve grown accustomed to the mistreatment, chances are you will tolerate it over time. Why? Because your negative relationship with yourself has not allowed you a ‘standard’ that would make you put a ‘stop’ to the mistreatment as soon as it shows up. Instead you rationalize the mistreatment because of the negative feeling you have about you.

As long as there is a ‘match’ between how you feel about you and the mistreatment you are getting, no limits or leaving the relationship will take place. The opposite situation would occur if you felt good about you and you were mistreated by the person you love.

Because your good feeling about you will have created a higher standard or expectation of how you should be treated, you won’t tolerate anything less. You’ll confront your lover or leave the relationship entirely. Without a higher standard of treatment that indicates a more positive self-esteem, it’s easy to fall into and stay in an abusive love relationship.

Now if you find that your self-esteem is a little on the low side, how can you increase it? The easiest way to work on your self-esteem is to improve the ways you take care of yourself. Remember that ‘relationship you have with you’ I mentioned earlier in this post? Let’s think about ways to strengthen the part of you that can take care of the rest of you.

First and foremost, identify several ways you personally could improve your self-care. Keep it simple. Think of things that would make you feel happier about you.

Changes that would improve your overall health, for example, are a great place to start. Now I’m hoping that you’ll be a little more motivated to make at least one change in how well you take care of yourself if you knew it would be directly connected to the quality of your love life.

People don’t always make this connection between how well they take care of themselves and the quality of their love lives. Believe me, if you take better care of you, the improved relationship you will have with you will become the ‘prototype’ for the quality of relating you’ll attract from others.

Now, even after making such a change, you may still need to turn away people whose treatment of you doesn’t quite meet with your standard. That’s OK, in your search for a person who will love and treat you well, you’ll have to differentiate between those who fall short of your ‘standard’ and those who meet or exceed it.

With civility limit the former and check out the latter. By the way, don’t stop working on your self-esteem even after you fall in love again. That’s a project for a lifetime with pronounced benefits in all the areas of your life.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan

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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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