Do you love yourself?

Well, I got into it with someone on a message board today.  I used to frequent several forums and messages boards, to the point that I was known as a regular on some of them and even met my first boyfriend on one (ahh, nerd love).  In recent years, however, I’ve become pretty disinterested in them.  For one, there are a good many trolls on the internet, and everyone seems to think that owning a computer is the same as a license to be a raging dick as often and in as many places as possible.  It is a sad state of affairs, especially when you consider all the amazing things the internet could be used for, but alas, is not.

Anyhow, despite not frequenting message boards, I do read a lot of news and blogs and the like.  Every now and then I wander over to Jezebel, if they have an article I’m interested in.  Generally, I don’t feel like that site is geared towards me at all, even though I’m in possession of a vagina.  It’s a lot of celebrity gossip that I truly could not care less about, make-up tips (which are just irrelevant to me), and anything about relationships is extremely heterocentric and hence, pretty frustrating.  Today I was reading a rather condescending article about new parents by a new parent who wants all her “childless friends” to just deal with their jealousy over her being a breeder instead of complaining about how new parents only want to talk about being a parent.  

Yeeeeeeeaaaaah.  The comments in response to this article where varied, though most agreed it was condescending.  But one comment in particular got to me.  One woman simply said, “It’s because our friends with babies and those having-it-all stories remind some of us that we’ve failed at step 1: find somebody willing to love us.”

Now, am I the only one whose heart just breaks when reading that? I’ve been there.  I’ve been there so many times.  Even publicly, for you all to read about.  But I know better now: I know it’s a dirty lie!  It’s not that there aren’t people out there willing to love us– heck, there are people who are loving us RIGHT NOW!  The problem, or at least what was my problem, is that an inability to love myself made it impossible for me to see that others loved me.  If other people loved me, it contradicted my story about myself.  Namely, that I was unlovable, unworthy, broken, tainted, damaged goods, etc.  So I had to change the story, and that made it possible for me to see the love that had been in front of my face the whole time. 

So I read this comment and decided I simply have to say something.  Perhaps I went about it all wrong. I said, “Don’t you love yourself? If not, why not? And why expect someone else to do what you’re unwilling to do? Believe me, I think getting you to love yourself is the hardest “somebody” you’ll ever convince, but also the most worthwhile.” 

Alright, so maybe the line about willingness was a little harsh, but I think it’s a fair question.  Why do you want from someone else what you’re unwilling to do yourself, and what right do you have to expect that?  It’s a question I’ve posed to myself thousands of times over the years.  But my message, at least my intended message, was that loving yourself is the most worthwhile relationship you could cultivate. 

But it must not have come out that way, because some gal (who was not the original poster I was responding to, by the way), took it upon herself to inform me how much of a dickish turd I was for saying such things and OMG don’t you know that loving yourself has NOTHING to do with finding a partner and stop guilting people, you judgmental bitch.   

Whoa, now! We got off on the wrong foot… So I tried my darndest to make peace.  I pointed out that I wasn’t saying loving yourself was the key to finding a partner, just that, you know, your happiness can depend on you instead of some Prince Charming on a white horse (who, by the way, is totally a cartoon character).  I also mentioned that hey, I’m single, I get that finding a partner is fucking hard, and we’re on the same side (something in her comment made me think she thought I was some uppity gal with a stay-at-home husband and a new baby, talking down to the single folk).  

I suggested that, “Loving yourself is not the key to finding a partner, but it is the key to filling that hole in your heart, if you have one. It won’t magically guarantee you a partner. I mean, heck, I know dozens of self-hating people who can’t seem to stay single for more than a couple of days. I can see a correlation between having poor self-worth and hence avoiding reaching out to people (which could lead to some missed opportunities), but there’s not necessarily causation there. The two are linked only in so far as we choose to limit ourselves in the types of relationships we’re willing to have with people.”

She wouldn’t have it, though.  In the end, she was still convinced I was a raging dick and I had only swooped into the conversation to be judgmental and feel superior.  But I was sincerely trying to reach out to her– connect with another single person who has obviously been hurt a lot and is kind of bitter about the whole dating scene. 

It’s not an uncommon condition, and it’s certainly one I empathize with.  But it’s destructive.  It encourages us to be suspicious, to turn on each other, to trust no one.  Hey, I get it.  I’ve been faked asked out on dates for years, I’ve had plenty of partners lie to my face while they’re dumping me (you know, “I don’t want a relationship with anyone, probably ever” and then lo’ and behold a few months later…), I’ve even had a woman end a six month relationship with me in one e-mail, then never speak to me again.  People can be ASSHOLES, especially when there’s any amount of vulnerability involved.  But assuming that everyone in the world is out to get you or judge you is NOT the solution. 

In truth, there is no solution.  In order for Love to occur, you have to be vulnerable, you have to risk your heart.  Yes, this means you will get hurt at some point or another, even if it’s not intentional.  That’s what LOVE is.  Your choice is whether it’s worth it to you or not.  If it’s not worth the heartache, then don’t date.  Don’t have relationships.  You’ll spare yourself the heartbreak, you’ll just be left if with a different kind of pain.  That dull ache that comes from a complete lack of hope.  And to me, that’s far worse.  But that’s my choice, and we all get to choose as we will. 

So I call on you, dear reader, whatever your relationship status is, let us not be suspicious.  Let us not turn on each other and assume the worst.  Let us open our hearts to the possibilities that exist for us, rather than closing them to avoid hurt. The world needs Love now more than ever.  It needs healers and kind words and peacemakers.  So let us share the love we have, love the beautiful creatures that we are, and lead by example. 

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