An Essay on Self-Love

ISJ
4 min readJan 29, 2023

I don’t see it exactly the way most people do.

Photo by Jernej Graj on Unsplash

Recently, a person I considered as my really close friend spited me out of nowhere, saying I’ll never be able to do romantic love because I couldn’t do friendship (which is unfair because why isn’t she too responsible for whatever happens in our interactions)? Now, looking back, I understand that perhaps her resentment stemmed from her own dissatisfaction at my views that challenged hers, and she chose to gaslight me, eager to win what I thought was simply an intellectual debate by judging me as being ‘triggered’, and by triggered, she’s referring to my having hard questions that aren’t very comfortable, more specifically, in this instance, me having asked rather hard questions in our discussions about romantic love.

I never tire at intellectual drills until I obtain a satisfactory answer to any conundrum, and in this case, we’re talking about the topic of self-love and being healed enough for a romantic relationship — and so at some point, this pal of mine may have started to personalize my uncomfortable views, which hurt her deep inside.

Let me share our conflicting views that triggered her into gaslighting me as someone who is ‘triggered’.

You see, the point I was trying to make to her was that although we need to know ourselves to a certain extent and to be able to carry ourselves through difficult moments in any relationship before we undertake an intimate relationship, it certainly does not mean that being without a romantic partner is a sign that singles are somehow more deficient in this ‘self-awareness’/ ‘self-love’ regard — therefore, the conclusion (and perhaps a rather triggering question to this friend) I made was, why do we keep telling singles to keep working on themselves, as if they aren’t already doing so? In short, why is that a sentence we throw around to single people? Is there some subconscious, or very much unconscious bias here?

Perhaps this bias serves to protect the psyche of people like my friend, who (ironically) would very much like to continue having something safe to hold onto whilst not having someone, and that something safe is the consoling subconscious belief that as long as she keeps working on herself, there will be someone for her eventually.

The case I was simply trying to make to her, to my own dismay (because she then attacked me, gaslighting me that I had been triggered), is that no, singles and those in romantic relationships may very well have the same levels of emotional intelligence and plus, the romantic relationship itself is a good learning opportunity for everybody (ask Alain de Botton) — thus, why do we more often than not tell singles to work on themselves, just as if those in romantic relationships don’t have to (because subconsciously, they’ve made it, right? This is our false notion that’s rooted in romanticism’s ideals).

I’m definitely not one to bask in the comfort of oversimplified half-truths and in this case, it truly is unfair to hold on to some subconsciously comforting belief — if I work on myself, the right person will come to me — because it indirectly involves self-blame: and why would I degrade and put myself down unnecessarily? Why would I accept statements from others that conceal the underlying idea that I have to work on myself and my sister, who is in a relationship for instance, doesn’t have to? Point is, why do I get such statements and my sister doesn’t?

P.S., on a side note: Sure, there are moments when I feel my beauty, from deep inside, my wholeness as a living being. But that perfect form of self-love that many people talk about, I doubt I will ever achieve that sort of perfection without a physical antidote to what I have experienced at the hands of people throughout my childhood and adolescence: you see, I really do love myself, I really believe that just like everyone else, I have worth and uniqueness that’s worth cherishing, but here’s the catch — I don’t believe other people see me that same way, simply because my interactions with people so far have taught me that: that I’m not special. But, I don’t believe that because of that, I’m unlovable. That’s why I can still keep my head up high when I walk most of the time, because I know it’s not my fault, that as a human being, I just need that physical, real-life antidote to a lifelong absence of that special lovin’. Indeed, I’ve done most of my healing work; I know that (and I will maintain this progress every day).

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ISJ

All things life, spirituality, healing, psychotherapy, trauma-related, & mindfulness. Occasionally food & poetry.