Becoming an empowered woman | Creating healthy relationships

The connection between loving ourselves and loving others

June 25, 2024
Posted by Karen Strang Allen

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”


Our ability to love ourselves (a.k.a. “self-love”) is closely connected to our ability to love others and have healthy relationships, although it has nothing to do with deserving love.

Everyone deserves love!

I recently saw someone post in a public forum that when dating, you should stay away from people who had a difficult childhood. Oof…if this were true, there would be very few people in the dating pool!

While having a difficult childhood can make navigating adult relationships more challenging, it’s not true that it condemns you to never having a healthy relationship.

What is true is that you’ll need to change some beliefs and behaviours, learn the skills of regulating emotions and resolving conflict, and recalibrate your nervous system to healthy love.

So better dating advice would be to look for people who have done healing work around their past relationships, who are self-aware and love themselves, and who have developed the skills needed to create a healthy relationship.

(People who had a “normal” childhood may also need to do some of this work!)

So let’s pull back the curtain and clear up the mystery about what self-love really means, and why it’s so important for having healthy relationships…

What self-love is (and isn’t)

Let’s start with some definitions:

Self-love is the practice of accepting, valuing, and cherishing yourself unconditionally. It’s about recognizing your own worth and treating yourself with the same kindness, compassion and respect that you would show to a child or dear friend.

Self-care refers to the activities and habits that nurture you and replenish your wellbeing (like getting enough sleep, eating nourishing foods, moving your body, or taking time for hobbies and relaxation).

Self-love isn’t about becoming so confident and sure of yourself that you have no scars, self-doubt or insecurities. It also isn’t about perfection…reaching some unachievable place where all your healing and growth is “done.”

Instead, self-love is about learning to fundamentally like, love and respect yourself, and treat yourself with the same care and concern you give to (and want from) others. It’s about prioritizing your own needs and wellbeing instead of chronically self-sacrificing (that’s the self-care piece).

In other words, it’s learning to love yourself as much as you love others.

Why self-love matters

“The greatest love of all is the love of self.” ―Whitney Houston


For people who had reasonably normal childhoods, self-love usually comes naturally. If you received positive feedback and parenting from your caregivers in childhood, you probably have a solid sense of self, love who you are, have healthy boundaries, and treat yourself with respect and kindness. (Lucky you! Be grateful for this gift, not judgmental of those who didn’t receive it.)

But for people who grew up with abuse, neglect, or trauma in childhood, the feedback process was likely inaccurate. Because of negative feedback and poor parenting skills, the child did not create a positive self-image, and so struggles as an adult to feel good about who they are.

This typically leads to critical self-talk, self-neglect, low standards and poor boundaries. It also leads to chronic over-giving and self-sacrificing in relationships.

This doesn’t mean you’re unlovable due to a crappy childhood that you didn’t ask for. And it doesn’t mean you’re incapable of experiencing love.

It does mean that you need to learn how to love yourself. Because what we don’t heal, we repeat.

Without self-love, you will continue to have poor boundaries and lack assertiveness in your relationships. You will continue to attract people who treat you with the same lack of respect and kindness you show yourself (like attracts like). If you feel “not good enough,” you will continue to feel drawn to people who prove you right and push away those who would have proved you are more than good enough.

We don’t get what we want in life…we get what we believe. If you believe there’s something wrong with you, you will keep attracting people who tell or show you there’s something wrong with you, until you buckle down and do the work to heal this core wound and shift your beliefs about yourself.

When we have unhealed wounds, our pain attracts other people’s pain. And two wounded people who have done no healing work rarely (if ever) create a truly healthy relationship.

After a decade of professional experience as a love and empowerment coach for women, I have witnessed first-hand that to achieve healthy relationships, women need to spend time and energy learning how to love themselves.

This includes learning how to:

    • heal from past wounds
    • process and regulate emotions
    • build an empowered identity
    • validate and affirm yourself
    • set healthy boundaries and standards
    • own your intrinsic value & worth
    • take better care of your mind, body and spirit
    • make healthier choices in life and love

This is what self-love is really about. It’s about treating yourself with the same kindness and compassion you show to your kids, friends and partners. It involves learning how to re-parent yourself and give to your inner child what she needs to feel healthy and happy.

When two lonely, wounded people come together to form a relationship, that’s generally a recipe for disaster. When two happy, healthy people come together (even if they still have scars), the ingredients are there for a successful relationship.

Creating a daily self-love practice

So how can you cultivate more self-love in your life? Here are 5 practical tips:

1. Practice self-compassion. Notice when you’re being self-critical, and respond with kindness and understanding instead. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and struggles sometimes, and that you’re doing the best you can.

2. Set boundaries. Ask for what you need and let people know how you want to be treated. Learn to say no to obligations that drain you, and yes to the activities and people that energize you.

3. Make self-care a daily habit. Build in small daily rituals like taking a relaxing bath or shower, going for a mindfulness walk, writing positive affirmations, listening to uplifting music, or enjoying a nourishing meal. Experiment to find the self-care practices that work best for you.

4. Celebrate your strengths and wins. Keep a gratitude journal to remind yourself of your positive qualities and accomplishments, no matter how big or small.

5. Seek support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Talk to supportive friends and family members. Consider talking to a coach or therapist or joining a support group. Surrounding yourself with people who validate and encourage you can help you to love yourself.

The journey of self-love and self-care is an ongoing process, not a destination. But by making it a daily priority, we can transform our lives and our relationships in profound ways.

So I invite you to start today…and to reach out if you need help with your self-love journey!


For more on this topic, see:


Share your ideas

What does self-love mean to you? Please share!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you’d like to join a global community of single women who want to heal, feel empowered and support each other, I invite you to join my Empowered Single Women – loving life and attracting love Facebook group

About the author

Karen Strang Allen

Karen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner. 

Learn More about Karen