There's a strong debate over the topic of lack of self love versus a person's ability to love another person.
Can a person who hates themselves have intense feelings they interpret as love for another person? Absolutely. Everyone feels an intense draw or connection to other people no matter what their self image is. Even narcissists, who are completely devoid of compassion and empathy, feel love, but their own interpretation.
However, in order to have a healthy relationship with another person, it is impossible to love another person in the context of what healthy love is. I'm going to break down why.
If you're a person who hates themselves, you've never experienced or witnessed love in its true form. You probably weren't raised around or given examples of real love, only a poor, diluted substitute. You were conditioned to believe what it was you received was love and taught that you were less. I don't mean that you've never received genuine affection. But the type of love you're required to give in a healthy relationship wasn't available to you as a child and adolescence.
Real love is self less. It's unconditional (in the absence of abuse, neglect, disrespect, etc).
A poor self images leads to poor choices in partners. The type that disrespect and mistreat you, which usually is followed by abuse in some form but not in all cases. Sometimes, it's something as simple as cheating. Now another's person's actions are not your fault. However, they are a direct reflection of the amount of respect your partner has for you. Where did they learn how they were allowed to treat you? You.
In the majority of cheating cases but not all, the man is forgiven and given a second chance. Why? A woman will justify the decision based on her feelings for her partner and not based on what she deserves or based on a fear of being alone, which all circle back to self respect and circles again to self image. A person who respects themselves, loves themselves, would never entertain the idea they should give a second chance to a person who didn't respect them, no matter what that form took, whether it was blatant verbal disrespect or something more indirect like cheating.
The women you see that do walk out of these situations, know their level of worth and have zero tolerance for less than they deserve. They also know in their minds what the last wouldn't provide, another will. They don't give more power to their feelings for the person who mistreated them, than they do to their own value because a person who values themselves knows a person willing to cheat will continue to cheat because their partner may get extremely mad but will never actually leave. There will always be reasons and excuses that outweigh their own value, in their minds, which gives these predators power over their partner. Self-hate is derivative of low self-esteem.
There was a woman I heard about once who gave her spouse an epic dose of her power in her own self worth. She came home one evening from work to find her boyfriend of five years cheating on her. She didn't confront him or intervene in the scene. There was no argument. She left the apartment, changed her phone number, accepted a job in another state, and was never heard from by her boyfriend again. This is most iconic example of ghosting in history. Ladies, we all need that amount of power in our lives. Power comes from self respect. Self respect comes from self esteem. Self esteem comes from love of self.
You can love another person without them, but you can't love another person correctly and be loved correctly in return without them. Without them, you'll always accept the least because subconsciously, that's all you feel you deserve. When you have love for yourself, what you are willing to accept and your taste in men will change. Same goes for men of women.
Lack of self love comes in many forms, these are not the only type. Usually the men who are disrespectful, abusive, cheaters, all lack love for themselves but act out differently.
A man who doesn't respect himself will not respect his woman. A man who does not love himself will not take care of his woman and her emotional needs. A man who does not love himself will guard against hurt at all costs, even if that cost is at your expense. A man who does not love himself will be incredibly selfish and not understand what it is to put another person before himself which is exactly what is required from both parties for a healthy relationship and the actual definition of love to be present.
Even if you are not religious, think of it in the context of the Bible verse. "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church-" Ephesians 5:28-29
We all know it is possible to hate your body, yourself, which is the entire reason we are here. People don't care for things they hate, though which entirely the point I'm getting to. You don't give gifts to that mean girl in high school who bullied you the entire four years. You go don't go out of your way to help that co worker who has made your work environment a living Hell. In the same sense, a man who hates himself is never going to treat his woman better than he does himself. He is never going to recognize her value and give her what she is truly worth. He will take her for granted, demand, expect, persecute, belittle, disrespect her in very broad or subtle ways until she breaks or leaves.
From that same line though, we see the mention of not feeding and nurturing our body if we do not love it. Those who suffer with anorexia can verify that to not be true today unlike the time period in which that verse was written. What about the rest of us though that don't starve ourselves and have a poor self image? We still feed it right? Of course. Because we have to, to survive. But we don't take care of it by eating properly in both amount and substance. We don't treat it like a temple. We give it the bare minimum. Bare minimum is not limited to amount but also nutritional value. Poor dietary choices are also equated to self hate. We are never going to put more effort into someone else that we would not put into ourselves. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually, nutritionally.
Think about your last five relationships. What type of people were you dating? Were there any similarities in their type? What went wrong? What are some of the commonalities the relationships shared? Cheating, neglect, fighting, short tempers, lying, disrespect, abuse, even volleying the relationship on and off with your partner.
We are not at fault for how another person acts or treats us but we are responsible for what we tolerate. We are responsible for the red flags we ignored early on in the relationship and the interaction preceding. What you are willing to tolerate and excuse is a testament to how you view yourself and what you believe internally you deserve; self hate.
It might be scary to be alone, but isn't it scarier to live miserably long term or even your whole life? Isn't it scarier to know you missed an opportunity to have the love you want and deserve because you settled for a relationship with a person you're not even entirely happy with? Our own definitions of love do not equal happiness. Real love equals happiness. That begins inside you. Not someone else. You'll keep repeating the cycle, the definition of insanity, until you chose to end it. Until you chose to put work into yourself.
It all comes down to us as individuals. Ensuring that what we feel and what we give are returned in equal measure and excusing ourselves from the table if they are not being served. If you know your self image is poor or you have experienced abuse, neglect, disrespect in a relationship, don't suffer in silence. Learn how to love yourself in order to be loved correctly. While you may not care about how you view yourself or believe it impacts your relationships, it impacts how other people view you and ultimately how they are allowed to treat you both romantically and platonically. If you are constantly spewing self hate in front of people, you are telling them you don't value yourself which communicates to them, they don't have to either and they won't. No one will ever give you more than you give yourself. Learn how to respect yourself. There are tools all over the internet to teach you. Talk with friends, get in touch with doing things you are passionate about, watch videos from Derrick Jaxn, Trent Shelton, Tony Gaskins Jr., Michael Hussey, and above all, seek therapy.
We all have the power within ourselves to live our best lives and invite those who value us to share that life with us. That's what real love is. It's embracing the wonderful qualities you have to offer the world that are unique to you and sharing yourself with another person who appreciates those qualities.
Please don't settle for the least when you could have greatness.