Loving yourself and knowing your worth is one of the most valuable contributions you can bring to your relationship. I’m not talking about narcissism, conceitedness, or being self-centered, here. I’m talking about real self-love. Self-love is important not just for your own self esteem but it’s also important for your relationship. How you love yourself affects how you treat your partner and it even affects how your partner treats you in return. How you love yourself is a compass for navigating and accepting not only your qualities, but the qualities of your partner.
The higher you value yourself, the higher you value your partner, too. After all, they’re dating you. And if you think you’re a pretty good catch, then you’re really going to respect the person who caught you because they must be pretty awesome to catch someone like you. But if you don’t think you’re a good catch, or don’t think you bring much value to your relationship, then you won’t respect your partner much because they’re not good enough to catch someone who’s really great – and they’re the type of person who settles. And it’s hard to respect someone who settles.
Not valuing yourself also opens the door to accepting the devaluing opinions of your partner, and keeps you from asserting yourself because you don’t know that you have something valuable to bring to the relationship.
Honoring Yourself is Important to Love Yourself
Honor isn’t talked about much in our culture, and especially not as much since the 1950’s. Honoring ourselves and our needs is not selfish! Rather, it’s actually pretty selfless when you do it appropriately. For instance, how you regard yourself in terms of the person you are morally, ethically and also of value. This is particularly evident when your successes are also the successes of your partner. How you act and maintain honor in your relationship is also reflected in your partner. When you are in a committed relationship how others see you is also how others will see your partner.
Recently I have had the pleasure to date a man who has high honor and regard not only for himself, but others. Two incidences come to mind as I type this. First, we were dressed for dinner out and stopped for gas. There was a man stuck at one of the pumps because his car broke down. My date, stated he was going to go see if he could help and made sure I was okay to be a little late. He then locked me in the truck and proceeded to help the man. I asked why he locked me in and he said it was to protect me. That is honor! Second, we met for breakfast one morning and a WWII vet came in and sat at the table next to us. My date got up, asked to introduce himself and thanked the vet for his service. We both were invited to chat and after some great laughs we returned to our table. My date told the waitress he would be paying for the vet’s breakfast. These instances reflect not only my dates honor, but his honor also reflected on me. Both of these instances made me very proud to be next to him.
Self-respect is Important to Love Yourself
Respecting yourself is also knowing what you will and will not tolerate. Having a deep respect for yourself also pours into your relationship. Respect brings a sense of equality and deepened intimacy. So often in relationships we think others need to earn respect first. The reality is we should give respect first because of the respect you have for yourself. You should never put your partner on a pedestal, nor assume your place is on a pedestal. Pedestals are degrading to the health of your relationship. Respect is asking for your needs to be met and having them met. Respect is hearing your partner’s needs and meeting those needs.
So to high-five yourself in the mirror and love who you are. If you love you, it’s so much easier to love the one you’re with.
Tristan Beymer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and marriage and family counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She specializes in helping couples rebuild their relationship to be strong, healthy and passionate. She also works with individuals to overcome difficulties related to trauma and addictions.