Why self-love really is the greatest love of all…and the answer to a great marriage

As a child, for the longest time I really believed that the ultimate happiness in my life would be to meet my prince charming. (I have now, but that’s not the point, I had at least 100 Barbie dolls and pretended to have weddings for them with the one and only Ken doll I had. I would imagine I lived in a far-off castle somewhere in my grandmother’s house pretending that my long-lost love will find me complete with images of unicorns and magic potions in my head all euphoric and happy within my year old head, and then… I grew up. It does not help when the popular media and movies propagate the belief that romantic love is the answer to almost all a girl’s (and a guy’s but mostly girl’s) problems.

This ideology stems from the romantic period of the 18th century. Times were a lot harder then, and people would write and read to escape the brutal realities of life, such poverty and war.  The promise of an attractive, often wealthy, chivalrous individual was very effective in satisfying this need. However, only time tells us that the reality can be not so pleasant as the person we might meet in real life tends to have faults that we were never told to expect and the expectations we were made to have about our partner often get dashed, as we thought that it would be like the bliss that we read about or see in the film the note book. However, as a psychologist, something I have seen in my practice often when couples come in for therapy is, it’s rarely about the relationship itself, but rather it is about their lack of self-awareness and self-esteem as individuals.

The relationship that we seem to neglect the most is the most important one and that is the one you have with yourself. Time and time again in the relationship literature, we find that those who are securely attached tend to have better more balanced relationships. Secure attachment is usually a person who has a great sense of self awareness and makes the most of their time alone. These individuals are not overly needy nor are they neglectful of those close to them, they find a great medium between spending time with others as well as by themselves, those who practice this type of self-awareness and self-love tend to be less egotistical as they have found that sense of peace with who they are, enabling them to give to those around them quality support. John Gottman, the pioneering expert on attachment theory consistently reiterates the importance of self-love and respect. Since no one truly feels how we feel in any given moment, taking the conscious decision to be kinder to yourself and help yourself grow is only going to prepare you to bring out the best in your significant other.

Further reading on attachment: Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller

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