Appeal for self-love: Love yourself sign surrounded by red roses.

8 Reasons Self-Love In A Relationship Is Critical To The Relationship’s Success

As redundant as they can be, everyday proverbs stand the test of time for a reason. Their succinct, often poetic composition helps commit them to memory. It’s then up to us to pull them out, contemplate them, and apply them. “No one can love you if you don’t love yourself first,” for example, has a broader message about self-love in a relationship.

The ultimate message isn’t just about being loved by your partner. It’s about your relationship having any chance of success at all.

That’s how critical self-love is.

Think this all sounds like a wishy-washy self-help notion?

Here are 8 powerful, relationship-defining ways that self-love is critical to a relationship’s success:

  1. Self-love makes authentic other-love possible.

    There’s just something “not right” when a person loves everyone else but maintains a denigrating, low-worth sense-of-self. You can feel the disingenuousness.

    Whether it’s self-loathing, self-martyrdom, or lack of self-care, the inherent hypocrisy of “love” from someone with no self-love is palpable.

    Consider, for example, parents who hate and harshly judge their own bodies and physical features, then invest in altering/“corrective” surgeries to change themselves.

    How are their young children supposed to trust their parents’ lessons about self-acceptance, self-confidence, and self-love?

    And how are they supposed to learn how to accept, love, and see beauty in others without judgment?

    The authenticity of loving someone else is rooted in how you love yourself.

  2. Self-love allows you to love others without suspicion or assumptions.

    If you have no self-love in a relationship, you’re going to have a really tough time believing that anyone else can love you.

    You will doubt both professed and expressed love, believing that your partner has ulterior motives or is lying to make you feel good.

    And surely it’s only a matter of time before someone like that finds someone better than you and leaves you. (Or so you believe.)

  3. Self-love frees you from the bondage of resentment.

    Everyone loves to be loved. But denying your own worthiness of love while doling out love to others is counterproductive.

    It’s also part of the martyr and victim mentalities.

    I must sacrifice myself for others. I don’t deserve the same love I give out.

    I have to save the world. But I’m destined for bad things to always happen to me because I have no control in my life.

    I don’t deserve (whatever), but everyone else does.

    Sooner or later you’ll feel resentful that you’re not getting loved as well as you’re loving.

    By focusing on and nurturing healthy self-love in a relationship, however, the love you give is an honest reflection of the love you keep.

    And that genuineness flows between you and your partner – with no room for resentment…and no room for victims.

  4. Self-love is the root of honesty in a relationship.

    Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. And honesty is the cornerstone of trust.

    But research shows that people in relationship — even marriage — find ways to tweak the ground rule of honesty.

    What does honesty (or lack thereof) have to do with self-love?

    Everything, actually.

    Dishonesty isn’t only about blatant, “big” lies. It’s also about the withholding of information that’s necessary to the building of intimacy.

    Denying, hiding, or minimizing your feelings, for example, may seem courageous and deferent. But it’s actually dishonest, even cowardly.

    It’s a passive-aggressive way of saying you don’t (and won’t) trust your partner with the vulnerability of your true feelings.

    On a deeper level, you’re really saying you don’t trust yourself with your true feelings.

    Self-love, on the other hand, reminds you that you are entitled to your feelings. You’re brave enough to feel, acknowledge, and share them.

    And you trust yourself and your partner to treat these vulnerable expressions with respect and compassion.

  5. Self-love helps you create healthy boundaries.

    Lack of self-love delivers messages like, “You’re not worthy,” “You don’t deserve,” “You’re not as good as (fill in the blank).”

    Saturated with that kind of negativity, you avail yourself to unkind, disrespectful, boundary-trampling treatment from others.

    When you love yourself, you step back just far enough to see yourself as an individual – just like your partner – who deserves respect.

    You stand up for yourself, just as you would for someone you care about.

    You have a sense of personal space – physically, emotionally, sexually, relationally – that comes with rules, just as your partner does.

    This is where you end and I begin. And this is where I end and you begin.

    I honor your boundaries and your protection of them. I trust you to honor mine, and I trust myself to protect them.

  6. Self-love is the best assurance of getting your needs met.

    It’s so easy to slip into a silent expectation of mind-reading when you’ve been in a relationship for a long time.

    S/he “should just know.” You “shouldn’t have to spell it out.”

    This internalized belief system is, of course, a prelude to disaster. No partner “just knows,” let alone with perfect accuracy.

    Acknowledging your own needs without judgment is central to self-love.

    In a relationship, it’s also your responsibility to learn how to healthily express your wants and needs.

    That doesn’t mean your partner has an obligation to meet all your needs (nor vice versa).

    But, when a partner loves you, s/he wants to help meet your needs.

  7. Self-love is essential for healthy communication.

    Healthy communication – in any relationship – can’t happen without the products of self-love discussed here: boundaries, honesty, equality, safety, respect, etc.

    And no relationship can be healthy, let alone thriving, without healthy communication.

  8. Self-love inspires and frees your partner to be self-loving, as well.

    There’s nothing like leading by the example of self-love to give others the confidence and inspiration to be self-loving, as well. 

If you’re struggling to find camaraderie with Whitney Houston’s famous lyrics about self-love, perhaps it’s time to brave a guided journey within.

Even (especially) in a relationship, learning to love yourself (really) is the greatest love of all.

Mary Ellen Goggin offers relationship coaching for individuals and collaborates with her partner Dr. Jerry Duberstein to offer private couples retreats. To learn more about working with Mary Ellen, contact her here.

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Mary Ellen Goggin

Mary Ellen is a highly skilled and intuitive relationship guide. She brings over 35 years’ experience with individuals and businesses as a lawyer, mediator, personal coach and educator. She received her J.D. at University of New Hampshire Law School and a Master’s Degree at Harvard University. Mary Ellen co-authored Relationship Transformation: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too with Jerry Duberstein — and they were married by chapter 3. Mary Ellen brings a unique blend of problem-solving, practicality, and warmth to her work. She’s a highly analytic person, with geeky and monkish tendencies. She’s a daredevil skydiver, a voracious seeker of knowledge, and an indulgent grandmother. Her revolution: helping people become the unapologetic rulers of their inner + outer realms. Read more about the retreats