Last week, with Ne-Yo’s Let Me Love You playing in the background at the gym (yes, I like Ne-Yo), I started to let the song’s lyrics sink in for the first time. For those unfamiliar with this song, the basic premise is that “I will love you until you learn to love yourself.” As much as I find Ne-Yo’s lyrics incredibly sweet and romantic, my practical side can’t help but question whether or not the song describes a particularly healthy relationship.
Ne-Yo sings to a girl who has never known love and who doesn’t have a particularly high opinion of herself, either. In the song, he promises to serve as the self esteem and love that she’s missing. However, although our significant others should build us up when we’re down and believe in us when we have our doubts, we shouldn’t be in a place where we need them to do this for us all the time.
This may sound harsh — and it would imply that a lot of people who are currently in relationships shouldn’t be — but until we learn to love ourselves, we shouldn’t call upon someone else to do that for us. If you are unhappy more often than you are happy with the world around you, then it doesn’t matter how perfect someone is, because you’re just not ready to be in a relationship. If you don’t love yourself (or, at the very least, like yourself), then you can’t reciprocate the wonderful support that you receive from your significant other, regardless of how willing that person is to be there for us. Is that fair to the person you care about?
Your boyfriend or girlfriend should seek to boost your confidence, but that shouldn’t be the primary goal. A relationship should be mutually beneficial, and as mentioned before, that can be nearly impossible when Person A is always questioning himself or herself, and wondering what Person B sees in him or her. Similarly, when we aren’t happy with ourselves, we don’t always pursue the healthiest relationships. As Stephen Chbosky writes in one of my favorite books, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Therefore, if we don’t love ourselves, we might remain in relationships with people who treat us poorly because we don’t think we deserve any better.
Ultimately, building your self image is difficult, and often a work in progress. In fact, most of us have a long way to go before we realize how much we truly deserve. Until you learn to love or like yourself, it’s best to take some time to yourself and reflect upon what makes you happy. Develop yourself in the best way you can, strengthen your platonic relationships, discover a hobby, and think about everything you are thankful for. Only after you’ve rebuilt yourself and found your version of happiness on your own can you accept the love of another person.