When you first meet someone, there are ton of unconscious mental processes that are running in your brain.
Some of these processes could return an attraction to this new person and they may feel the same towards you.
As a result, someone proposes a date.
If you’ve ever had a bad relationship, your hindsight illustrates that they were always a bad match. Is it confirmation bias? Maybe to some extent, but you can’t argue with the result. The relationship didn’t work out and there are reasons for that.
The next time you date, you will obviously want to get it right. So you’ll look out for certain traits and behaviors.
But there’s something that I wished I asked myself after I first met someone or after going out with them: Does this person love themselves?
It’s such a simple question but the depth of knowledge within it is staggering.
Firstly, it’s pretty difficult (if not impossible) to love others if you don’t love yourself. The people who are still defending the notion that you can love others without loving yourself are often people who destroy relationships when they see something in someone that they do not like.
I’ve seen it too many times. I heard too many excuses from that crowd. Even when I loved myself more, I still was guilty of doing unloving things.
Psychologist Robert Holden wrote, “Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.”
So if this person doesn’t love themselves, do you really think they are going to be capable of loving you? If they don’t see the importance of loving themselves, their attempts at loving you will be largely self-serving as they use your love to supplement the crumbs of love they are giving themselves.
Let me be clear here. Loving yourself isn’t a binary thing. It isn’t either you love yourself or you don’t. You are a multi-faceted being, therefore, there could be parts of yourself you love and other parts you despise.
Taking the time to pay attention to the negative self-talk, the personal mistreatment of undue pressure or impatience, and the tendency to constantly please others rather than to serve yourself is crucial to instilling self-love.
But the question of, “Does this person love themselves?” doesn’t end there.
The people you are attracted to are a reflection of you. What does this mean? It means that the person you like can’t love you more than you love yourself.
I know you might’ve seen the opposite in a movie or a television show. But in reality, this is not the case.
You may have seen something great in someone, they didn’t see it and then you either got sick and tired of them mistreating themselves or mistreating you due to some defense mechanism like projection.
But why is it that our partners can only love us as much as we love ourselves? Because if you think of yourself as a certain caliber of person, that is what you will project into the world. If you think you’re great, you will meet people who think that. If you think you’re trash, you will meet people who think that.
People may not be upfront on how they feel initially, but just wait. You will see it. People have a vested interest in putting their best selves forward and to ignore the red flags.
Dating is too often a game of deception, and everybody loses in the end.
So if you ask yourself, “Does this person love themselves?” and the answer is no, you just highlighted that you still have some self-love to work on.
Remember, it isn’t always going to be so cut and dry. Some people love certain things but hate other things about themselves. And yet, people have an odd tendency to reveal who they really are, even when they are trying to hide.
One’s intuition will always kick into gear. We just need to listen and not bulldoze our emotions (which is yet another thing self-love affords you).
However, it is possible that you could be totally blind to someone’s charm and ignore your intuition. So here are some traits to look out for:
- They treat you well but treat others poorly
- They speak badly of many or all past relationships
- They use their bodies or objects to impress
- They come on super-strong with their feelings, even though they don’t know you well
- There is a tendency to minimize themselves often
- They always put you first, very subservient
- There is a tone of unworthiness in their behavior towards you; they think you’re too good for them
- They beat themselves up for mistakes
- They feel entitled to whatever they want from you
- They cannot express what they want
You might have noticed that some of these items are a big contrast to other items. That’s because a lack of self-love can show itself in a narcissistic way or a codependent way. Regardless, these are two people who do not love themselves.
You might see yourself in some of these traits, and that is understandable if you have been struggling with relationships. As I said before, you can’t date people who love you more than you love yourselves.
It is up to you to give yourself more love. That may include therapy, rest, a career change; it varies from person to person.
But the answer to the question, “Does this person love themselves?” is a great predictor for what may happen in the relationship and how it will end. It will help to minimize pain and it will help you level up in life.