Self-esteem is a characteristic and a value that has greatly decreased in people (especially teens) today. It is inevitable to fall in love with another person, however we need to be able to appreciate ourselves and know our value.
In my personal experience, I had low self-esteem whilst my ex-boyfriend had a pretty high ego. I didn’t mind this at first. At the beginning, as most relationships begin, he would compliment me frequently, we would not fight much, and he made me feel good about myself. We laughed, joked, and enjoyed each other’s company. This relationship started way back during my freshman year in high school. After a couple months, we started to fight more, our communication skills deteriorated, and he started shouting at me, saying words that hurt me, and those were the times I felt devalued. Of course we still had our happy moments, but when we had our low points, damn… it really did affect me.
The worst part was that I depended on him for my happiness, whilst he could easily choose to not care. He was one of those guys that could end up the call knowing I was crying my eyes out, or choose to ignore me as if I didn’t matter. I know now that we were both immature, or maybe he was just too mature/serious for me, and it was honestly an unhealthy relationship.
However, at the time, it affected my mental state and emotions, and I had a difficult time managing pain with everything else that was going in my life (like school and friends). Although our relationship improved after some time, we finally went our separate paths during my senior year in high school because I wanted to be independent, figure out what I want to do in life, establish my goals; all without having something/someone hold me back.
I learned a couple important things because of my first “real” relationship (that lasted almost 3 years) and I still remember them today:
- To take care of myself, and that even though a relationship requires you to give-and-take and that there are two parts to the equation, I should prioritise how I feel and should not feel subjected to only do things that another person wants to do (especially when I feel uncomfortable).
- Never to depend on someone for my happiness.
- Self-esteem is important in relationships, because if one partner has a lot of insecurities, then they will put in the effort to find their security or self-esteem in another place [or person]. This will bring complications in the relationship (because once again, you’re depending on another person to tell you your worth).
- On the other hand, if you have a good amount of self-esteem/self-love before entering a relationship, then you should always remember to love yourself. You should be with someone good; one that accepts you in spite of your flaws. However, in the case that the relationship turns ugly, having a good amount of love for yourself will stand by you to support you and to help you walk away from pain, yet help avoid the feeling of being devalued/unloved. Thus, self-love allows us to take care of ourselves and our future.
- It is not great to have too much pride to feed our self-esteem. We have to be able to break down the barriers, let go of our ego at times, and understand our partners; especially if he/she feels vulnerable, sad, confused, or whatnot. Too much pride can lead to the deterioration of your relationship and can do damage to your partner.
Lastly, this is what I learned the most out of my first relationship, and implement today:
Sometimes we spend more time loving others than we love ourselves. Mostly because it’s just easier to see the good in others when we love being around them and because their existence brings us so much joy. I understand that it does not feel the same when we are asked if we sincerely love ourselves — because at times it’s difficult for us to completely love our flaws (since those are what really bug us).
But just know that we are all capable of being loved and loving; however we need to learn how to love ourselves first. When that happens, we truly know what we deserve and we can be able to confide in someone else that sees the beauty and value in us as well. I can’t say that we’ll love ourselves 24/7, but we need to know our worth. It will take some time, so try not to feel frustrated. Taking smaller steps will help you get far — if you find and tell yourself one great thing you love about yourself a day, it’ll get easier sooner or later. Try to focus on the good and you’ll get there.