Do you have to love yourself before you love someone else?

RuPaul on the set of RuPaul’s Drag Race serving her most famous line “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else”

Honestly, the short answer is no.

You don’t have to do anything. There are no rules. And sometimes loving someone else/being loved by someone else can even catapult your own journey to love yourself. It can give you a running start in a way.

But the question is, why wait? Why not practice loving yourself? Why not figure out how to love yourself so good and then be more prepared to love someone else when they enter the picture?

Sometimes this idea of “loving yourself” first can feel really big and scary in our heads. So let’s get on the same page about what I mean by self love.

To me, self love does not mean enthusiastically choosing to marry yourself like Sue Sylvester, but instead it is practicing love for the self.

One of the ways Arielle D’Angelo (Queer Self Love Coach) defined it in our Club House talk a few weeks back was, “being fully integrated with every aspect of myself.” It is having a relationship with yourself, a relationship with your feelings, and practicing self compassion for whatever you find there.

It is having a relationship with yourself, a relationship with your feelings, and practicing self compassion for whatever you find there.

In this way, we can think of self love as a verb.

Are we doing what we can to take care of ourselves? Are we treating ourselves with compassion? When we feel anxious or sad or when we mess up, are we gentle with ourselves? Do we seek to understand? Are we transparent, kind, and generous the way we aim to be with others?

Because the problem is, without loving ourselves, without first seeing ourselves the way we want to be seen, it can be harder to tell if we’re being treated the way we want to be treated. Or we can become addicted to this external source of love, making us ignore the flaws and flags of whoever is giving it.

So let me ask you this, if you want to be able to give and receive love to/from others, what feels more helpful for that journey? Taking responsibility for practicing self love? Or clinging to the idea that it is a destination that you haven’t reached yet?

Self love is a practice.

It is slowing down.

It is slowing down to look at ourselves.

It is slowing down to look at ourselves and see how we’re doing, what we’re feeling.

It is slowing down to look at ourselves and see how we’re doing, what we’re feeling and practicing kindness.

It is slowing down to look at ourselves and see how we’re doing, what we’re feeling and practicing kindness by asking, “What do you need?” “What do you want?” “How can I help?”

It is slowing down to look at ourselves and see how we’re doing, what we’re feeling and practicing kindness by asking, “What do you need?” “What do you want?” “How can I help?” And then trying to give ourselves those things.

It is full of,

“How can I cheer you up?”

“What feels like a fun thing to do today?”

“It makes sense you feel that way.”

“Do you need a distraction? Or would you like to talk about it?”

Because, maybe, just maybe, if we get used to saying these words to ourselves, they might more easily tumble out of our mouths to someone else.

So no, we might not leap from treating ourselves like our childhood arch nemesis to treating ourselves like we treat our bestie. But we can step. One foot in front of the other. Knowing this walk is a practice. Not a race to the finish line.

Because there is no finish line.

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Queer Dating Coach, Ariella Serur

Queer Dating Coach, Ariella Serur

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Ariella is a Queer Dating Coach who helps kind, queer folks navigate the dating pool, so they have the courage to go after what they want in dating and in life.