Do we need to love ourselves before loving others?

I am sure everyone has heard this phrase before: “Love yourself first before loving others”. I, for a while, believed in this phrase too.

Until reality hit me. I was convinced I could not love anyone due to my severe depression which led me to hate myself. Until… I did. Even with depression.

As soon as I realised I fell for this person I thought that the feeling was something else trying to disguise itself as love. What if it was neediness? What if it was obsession? Surely as I hated myself there must have been another reason. and if there was another reason, I should have talked with the person, explaining that I was too damaged, that they better be going to be looking for love somewhere else.

It dawned on me that this reasoning, though, was just the easy way out. Follow the book: I do not love myself -> I cannot love others. I could have done that. Instead, I started to reflect on the meaning on this phrase.

I did not love myself, sure. But that did not mean I was not able to be on my own. I actually learnt how to do it quite well, filling the time with activities that can be done alone despite of what society tells you. I had gone to eat on my own, to have a drink on my own, boarded a plane and travelled on my own, gone to the club on my own. I was comfortable being on my own. So, that ruled neediness out.

What about obsession? I looked at the chat between me and this person. I was not texting them compulsively. When I was with others I very rarely picked up the phone. I would leave the conversation hanging because I would fall asleep, and resumed the next day with a simple “ah, I fell asleep yesterday, but, btw”.

So, how could I love, really love someone, if I still did not love myself? What if that famous phrase needs to be rewritten? Or at least, what if I need to rewrite that phrase for myself?

“Learn to be comfortably on you own before loving someone. You might still hate yourself, but if you know you can be on your own, you will not be needy or obsessed anymore”.

I feel that this works better for me.

(The picture is terrible but is one I posted of one of my solo trips to Dublin, was so proud of being there on my own)

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