Monthly Archives

February 2019

Why The Phrase ‘Love Yourself Before You Date’ Is Being Misunderstood

Finding A Date, Healthy Relationship Rhythms

I often hear lots of people say ‘you need to love yourself before you date’. In many ways, I think this is true and many people need to hear it. However, there are lots of people who are misinterpreting it as well, and that can lead to more hurt. I think we need to look at the positives and negatives, so that we understand what this really means. 

I was reading an online article recently and a phrase that I hear a lot popped up: ‘Love yourself before you date’. On the surface, why would you not agree with this? 

In a culture which gives us lots of reasons to dislike how we look and/or makes us feel inferior to those around us, we need to be positive about ourselves and know we have value and self-worth. 

But I think this phrase can unintentionally reinforce some principles that can actually do more harm than good. So it’s worth exploring what we actually take away, the good and bad bits, when we hear this phrase.  

The Amazing Positives  

Obviously, this phrase fundamentally teaches us a good message. At its core, it’s saying that we can’t get all of our worth or fulfilment from dating, or those we date. 

I have written about this before (Read Top Dating Tip For When Your Relationship Become Official), saying that a relationship will not ‘complete us’. Our worth and value comes from wider relationships, hobbies that fulfil us, and from our relationship with God, etc. 

If we don’t like ourselves and expect one person to come along, or one relationship to change that and make us feel fulfilled, we will be disappointed.

Can’t expect one person or one thing to bring us all of the fulfilment

So the good bit of this message is that our safety, joy, and self-worth aren’t found in dating/one person, but in a wide variety of friendships, family, hobbies and interests.

This is why ‘loving ourselves’ is so important. We need to know that we can’t expect one person or one thing to bring us all of the fulfilment we want. We need to be investing in wider things so that we can enjoy and be content with our lives, and not put too much pressure on dating and romance.

So What’s The Problem? 

For me, the problem comes when we misinterpret the intention behind this phrase and end up believing that it’s saying ‘love yourself and’… 

  • Never Change
  • (Pretend To) Be Perfect
  • Be Happy All The Time

Never Change

If we think loving ourselves means never changing, it will make dating impossible. 

Any relationship we have with anyone will change us, especially romantic and intimate ones. We need to expect to compromise sometimes, to learn how to fit into each other’s lives, and this will mean we change as a result. 

If we think loving ourselves means others need to ‘just love everything about us and change totally so we can just stay the same’, we will never be able to create a mutually fulfilling and enjoyable relationship. (Read Settling Vs Compromise: Spot the Signs in Your Relationship)

(Pretend To) Be Perfect

I believe that deep down, we all know we’re not perfect. Yet our culture often makes us think we need to be. We need to look like we have life sorted, with no regrets and no mistakes. 

If loving ourselves means ignoring our faults, challenges and problems, then we will not be able to be honest and vulnerable with someone else. (Read Intimacy Without Vulnerability’, Why It Won’t Work)

This is vital in a good and healthy romantic relationship. Knowing that we can trust the person we are with, and show them the side we don’t show anyone else and vice versa, is needed. Pretending to be perfect gets in the way of having a relationship where we can really be ourselves. 

Be Happy All The Time

The message we often hear from our culture is to be happy all the time. ‘I don’t mind what happens, as long as I am happy’. 

But no one can be happy all the time. 

We can be content, we can have peace, but we can’t be happy all the time. Life is too messy and involves too many curve balls.

If we can’t be real, then we can’t form an authentic relationship 

If we think that loving ourselves means being happy in every situation, and in every area of our lives, it will stop us from being authentic. If we can’t be real, then we can’t form an authentic relationship. 

Romance involves navigation highs and lows, instead of thinking it will be one big high all of the time. 

Imagine If…

I watched a talk recently, and the presenter said that when it comes to love we want a guarantee, that it will last and the person we’re with won’t leave us. But sadly, romance doesn’t work like that.

Imagine if we remembered dating is about two flawed people committing to making it work. Our value and worth can’t come from one ‘perfect’ person or ‘perfect’ relationship. 

Thinking we only get love from the person we date is dangerous. We need to love ourselves and know that we have value and worth outside of our relationship status. But this doesn’t mean we: Never Change, (Pretend To) Be Perfect, or need to Be Happy All The Time. (Read 5 Tips For Online Dating)

What do you think about this phrase? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 25/2/2019

Settling Vs Compromise: Spot The Signs In Your Relationship

Early Dating, Relationship Difficulties

Relationships are meant to be enjoyed and they’re meant to make us feel safe and secure. However, they involve persevering through the hard times and compromise too. But how do we know if we are implementing healthy compromises, or settling for an unhealthy relationship? These 4 tips will help us spot the signs and make wise decisions as we date. 

I remember ages ago being in dating relationships and trying to convince myself that it was what I wanted. Pretending it was okay when really we were both just settling. 

It’s so hard now when I see people, especially close friends, trying to convince themselves they are happy in a relationship when I can see the hurt it’s causing.  Sometimes I have got the wrong end of the stick, sometimes they have worked out the problems eventually, but sometimes it has ended really badly. (Read New Research Suggests Friends Can Make Or Break Our Relationship)

Which raises an important question: How can you tell if you are settling or compromising? 

Normal Or Odd?

All relationships take hard work. There are things we may need to stop doing, or start doing, as we build a mutually loving relationship. There will be things we need to sacrifice and think differently about. 

However, relationships are meant to be fun and make us feel safe and secure. They are meant to make life better. If we feel like the sacrifice and the hard work is one-way traffic, then we may be settling for a bad relationship. 

Compromise helps us navigate the lows to enjoy the highs

People settle for many reasons. They think a bad relationship is better than no relationship. They put too much worth on relationship status. They think of the few good times to justify the bad times. But settling is different to compromise. 

Compromise helps us navigate the lows to enjoy the highs and have them more often. Whereas settling only makes us experience more and more lows, with a few highs to make us think it is okay. 

Spotting the Signs  

Spotting the difference will help us to know if we’re on the right track or heading for disaster. Especially if our dating relationship is new, or feels like it’s at a critical stage. We need to know that settling means: 

  • Always Hoping They Give Back
  • Sacrificing Too Many Things To Make It Work 
  • Only Having A Few Good Times To Enjoy
  • Not Feeling Like You Can Share Everything

Always Hoping They Give Back

One sign of settling is that we’re always hoping that they will start giving back. In a mutually loving relationship, both people are giving and putting the other person first. But if only one person is doing it, hoping the other one will do it (more), then there is a problem. 

I have heard this dynamic justified by the person who does all the giving before. ‘You don’t know them like I do’. ‘I’m just more caring’. ‘I don’t mind really’. But we cannot make excuses for selfish behaviour. 

Compromise involves both people giving and not just taking what they can get. If we’re hoping that our partner will suddenly change, it’s not a healthy place to be. 

Sacrificing Too Many Things To Make It Work

Settling also occurs when we just sacrifice too many things. 

There are times when one person moves cities to be with the other person. Or when you need to stop doing a hobby/do it less to spend more time together. Or you give time and money to support them somehow. These things can be healthy choices. 

But when one person is doing all of this and more, changing everything to fit into the life of the other person who isn’t sacrificing or changing at all, there is a problem. 

We’re settling if this is just a one-way street

Compromise does involve both people making big and small sacrifices. As well as showing their appreciation for it. We’re settling if this is just a one-way street.  

Only Having A Few Good Times To Enjoy

Anyone can think about a good memory. Every couple can share a moment that gives them a high and makes them feel loved. 

If these moments are few and far between though or becoming less frequent, then there is a problem we need to face up to. It’s a particularly big problem if we use these few highs to justify the long and frequent lows in the relationship. 

Healthy relationships that involve compromise do go through lows, but these couples communicate and do their best to avoid it happening again. Couples who settle just ignore the problem. 

Not Feeling Like You Can Share Everything

One final tip to spotting the signs of settling is when we feel like we can’t share stuff with our partner. 

We aren’t allowed to be real or authentic

If we feel like we can’t chat, offload, get emotional support from our partner, then we aren’t allowed to be real or authentic. We won’t feel like they have our back. Naturally, some people are better at communicating and sharing than others. I had to learn to do it well, but I made sure I did learn.

Compromise means supporting each other, sharing everything and feeling like you are a team. Settling stops this from happening.  

Imagine If…

If you’re spotting these signs in your dating relationship, it probably means you need to at least have some hard talks, and it may mean doing things differently moving forward. It may even lead to some tough decisions. 

But imagine if we didn’t settle for settling, and we made sure compromise was part of the healthy relationship we build.

So remember to spot the signs of settling: Always Hoping They Give Back, Sacrificing Too Many Things To Make It Work, Only Having A Few Good Times To Enjoy, Not Feeling Like You Can Share Everything. (Read Amazing, Enjoyable, But Not Easy. The Secret Behind Great Relationships)

What do you think is another sign of settling? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 18/2/2019

Why Friendships Are Too Easy To Break, And How To Avoid It. Part 2


Part 2 of this article continues to unpack the importance of friendships. This relationship is often unintentionally undervalued until it’s too late. Yet it’s so important to everyone’s wellbeing. There are 3 things I think we can do to value them more: Deep Talks, Fixing Over Fading, and Quality Time.

In Part 1, we began to highlight some of the unique dynamics of friendship compared to other relationships. Namely, that they are there to be enjoyed. We pick friends based on our mutual enjoyment, shared interests, and the like. 

But this can mean we walk away when it gets tough. 

The unspoken view that we pick people we like to become our friends, whose company we enjoy, is valid and necessary. But unless we learn to add to this perspective, our friendships will be easily broken. 

New Perspective

I realise we all have different personalities, different amounts of time to spare and socialise in different ways. However, I would say there are three things that can help us raise the importance of friendship in our lives.

None of these suggestions are necessarily new, but they are easily forgotten and they can help us to change the perspective that tells us friendships are just easy, and when it gets hard we just need to break it off.

We need to remember: 

  • Deep Talks 
  • Fixing Over Fading 
  • Quality Time 

Deep Talks 

Sometimes we want to meet up with friends and just talk about surface level stuff that doesn’t matter because we have no headspace for anything else. But doing this all the time can stop us from creating those stronger bonds. 

Now obviously, some people are more guarded than others, while some people find it easy to share their deeper thoughts and fears. But this is important to do because without trust and vulnerability, friendship or any relationship, won’t grow strong. 

This stuff is hard. It isn’t easy. Thankfully it’s not something we need to do with everyone we meet or all the time. However, forcing ourselves to talk about this stuff will bring us closer to people, and make us better at supporting each other when things in our lives get tough.  

Fixing Over Fading

Due to the hidden assumptions that friendships are meant to be fun and enjoyable if something happens and we end up arguing, then we are tempted to just walk away rather then work it out. 

All relationships have their ups and downs because people are messy

I think we need to at least try to fix it. We need to try and reconcile instead of just letting the friendships fade. This isn’t easy, and we may need some help in order to do this (Read I Want To Trust Them, But I’ve Been Hurt Before). 

The truth is, good and long-lasting friendships aren’t easy to come by. All relationships have their ups and downs because people are messy. We need to try and fix it when it’s broken, otherwise, we may miss out on many more enjoyable years of friendship. 

Quality Time

Everyone nowadays is busy. We all have lots of things to do and not enough time to do it all. Often meeting with friends, making time to travel to see old friends, or prioritising hanging out gets harder and harder. 

That is why it’s important to make the time we spend with friends count. We need to not just try and make some more time to see each other, but do different things and new fun things together. Research shows this can make the relationship stronger (Read Revealed: The Best Way To Build Better Friendships, In Half The Time?!) 

Imagine If…

Imagine if we agreed that friendships are meant to be fun. However, we also realise, like with all relationships, that they do require hard work sometimes as well. 

By forcing ourselves to have those deep conversations, fixing the hard issues and fallouts, and spending quality time together, we can make sure our friendships are strong and not easily broken. 

What else would you do to make friendships stronger? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 4/2/2019