No, You DON’T Have To Love Yourself Before Someone Else Can Love You

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unconditional love

And here's why.

We’ve all heard the old cliche of “You can’t truly be loved until you love yourself.”

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, “you have to love yourself before someone can love you” is bullshit!

First of all, who in the world truly, fully loves themselves all of the time?

This black and white perception of self-love is a damaging one. It’s this exact perfectionistic thinking that often drives most people to self-loathing. They think, “If I’m not perfect in improving in my body positivity then I’m failing… and I clearly don’t love myself.”

Self-love, self-esteem, and self-acceptance all exist on a continuum. They are all sliding scale concepts. 


No person, regardless of how much meditation or therapy they've done, has a 100% loving perception of themselves, in every moment, regarding every area of their lives. And anyone who tries to convince you that they do is likely trying to sell you something.

You might have self-love when it comes to your career and your abilities as a parent, and yet still beat yourself up when it comes to your relationship with your body. Or the inverse scenario could also be true.

You are a human being. And as a human being, you will inevitably have moments or phases in your life where you don’t feel so loving and accepting of yourself. This doesn’t mean that you’re failing the “Do I love myself?” test as much as you are simply having a very normal, human experience.

We all have things that we wish we could change about ourselves, whether we admit it or not. On some level, we were all born to want to strive, and improve, and level-up in our lives. We often apply this fix-it mentality to ourselves, and we make our self-love conditional. 

We tell ourselves, “I’ll love and accept myself when I’m richer, smarter, thinner, stronger, better.”

And guess what? Just because we don’t have a flawlessly loving relationship with ourselves doesn’t mean that other people’s love for us doesn’t exist. In fact, other people’s love for us exists in spite of our own feelings towards ourselves.

Does a baby practice self-love mantras?

Do young children have to practice self-love, meditation, and self-acceptance mantras in order to justify the love that is being sent their way? No. They simply receive love. They are deserving of love, acceptance, and belonging simply by existing, despite what their opinions of themselves are. Same with you.

No matter how much you think you know the deep-down, “real you” that no one else knows about, you are still deserving of love, acceptance, and belonging. Even with all of your self-perceived short-comings, flaws, and quirks.

Love Is Not A Scarce Resource

The scarcity mindset around love is a pervasive myth that permeates our lives.

We are taught, “You must love yourself fully before someone else will be able to begin to love you, or at least you’ll begin to receive it properly.”

By this (flawed, untrue) logic, that would mean that every person suffering through depression, eating disorders or addiction isn’t allowed to be loved. Again, not true in the slightest.

This is what is so damaging about this flawed myth … it is often the people who need love the most that are subtly being shamed away from feeling like they deserve the love that they crave.

“Oh, you don’t love yourself? Well, never mind then. No love for you.”

No, no, no no!

You are fully deserving of love, in every moment of your life, whether you believe it to be true or not.

Can relationships work between people who don’t love themselves?

I would argue that every long-term relationship in the world is functioning despite the flawed, frequently un-self-loving people that make up the partnership.

My best friend's parents have been married for over 40 years, even though they each have a fairly low opinion of themselves. Because their love for their partner isn’t dependent on how their partner feels about themselves, it’s dependent on them loving their partner. It’s as simple as that.


You can doubt your lovability and still be loved.

You can think one thing about yourself, and have someone who cares about you see you in a completely different light.

There is no single shortcut to being self-loving, nor do you need it. Because, despite your efforts to convince yourself or others that you aren't worth loving, you will still be loved.


Sex and relationship coach Jordan Gray helps people remove their emotional blocks and maintain thriving intimate relationships. You can see more of his writing at


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