One of the issues that becomes very evident when talking to people who are struggling in a relationship or who have been through a series of painful relationships, is that loving themselves and being in a relationship are seen as mutually exclusive. Now sometimes that’s due to the nature of the relationship and so it has issues that are having a knock-on effect on their self-esteem but equally, it can be down to the fact that they tend to give themselves up no matter who they’re with.
Whether we’ve lost ourselves as a direct result of engaging in a relationship or we’re lost because we give ourselves up in the pursuit of love in general, it results in confusion about whether to stay or go because we’re unable to distinguish the relationship from our self-worth and so the relationship is at once a source of external esteem, while at the same time, intertwined with feelings, thoughts and actions that mean that the relationship is closely associated with pain.
The person/relationship that’s seen as the sole source of our happiness paradoxically becomes the sole source of our pain.
It is possible for us to be in a relationship and love ourselves at the same time.
It’s in this kind of relationship where we can have love for another without diminishing ourselves in the process, where we experience love that flows and grows between two people rather than it being about one party having something we want to ‘get’ or ‘earn’ from them or it being called love because it’s what we associate anxiety, angst, precariousness, worthlessness, uncertainty, turmoil and other such feelings that become the norm in a relationship where we don’t feel good about ourselves.