Is Love All You Need?

I have a pair of shoes with “love is all you need” written on the soles. I used to wholeheartedly subscribe to this idea. I thought love would conquer all and get me through anything no matter what. While I still fully believe in the benefits of love, I have reframed the concept of “all you need” to include a few other important key ingredients because love is not enough. 

We also need shared values, common interests, the ability to communicate effectively, and perhaps the most important aspect of a healthy relationship the ability to know our own worth and engage in self-love. This knowledge can take time to build as it is sadly not often taught freely. Mathew Hussey, a relationship coach said that we should make a list of all the things we really want in a relationship, read it through carefully and then be that list for ourselves. This is really solid advice whether you are currently in a relationship or not because it refocuses the attention in relationships from external sources of validation to meeting our own internal needs. 

In February, this month of love, I encourage you to try this exercise out. Make a list of what you need in a relationship and then ask yourself the following questions about each item on the list:

What does this mean to me? Why is it important to me?

Is it a deal breaker or is there wiggle room on this?

Am I able to provide this need for myself?

If not, what do I need to do differently in my life in order to provide this for myself?

The days of “you complete me” and the need to be rescued by another person are slowly fading behind us in a fairy tale sunset. We now know that the most successful and healthy relationships are ones in which each partner takes care of themselves first, practices self-love, meets their own needs, and then together they take care of the relationship. What this allows is independence, self-awareness, and self-empowerment. It also allows for self-compassion and the ability to provide comfort to oneself when it may not otherwise be readily available. 

This does not mean we do not benefit from the presence of others in our lives romantically. Connection to others and the quality of our relationships is the single most predictor of happiness over the course of life. Within this connection however if there is a dependence on someone else to meet our needs or take care of us these relationships tend to become unhealthy. In general, we are attracted to people who treat us the way that we feel about ourselves. That can be a tough one to sit with. It is easier to say, “they mistreated me” than it is to also consider that how we feel about ourselves invites us to be attracted to others who will confirm these beliefs, positively or negatively. The ability to master self-love allows us to choose, or keep, partners who will treat us with kindness and respect. It also allows us to know what our boundaries (what is okay and not okay) are and to feel free and safe to express these boundaries. Knowing our self-worth and not attaching it to the actions of others allows individuals to grow together through all transitions in life.  Healthy secure relationships that start with love from within are the ones that you see standing the test of time because each person has formed a solid foundation within themselves and builds up with the other person not because of them. 

The content provided in this article is for information purposes only. It is not meant as a substitute for professional medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you find yourself in distress, please reach out to your local physician who can provide mental health resources in your community.