These are just a few of the sayings you’ve probably heard if you’re in recovery and looking to start a relationship early on. With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching it can seem like everyone is focused on relationships. But you’ve also heard the saying “You must love yourself before you can love someone else,” and this is especially true for those of us in recovery. While finding someone that relates to your experiences and shares common goals (like achieving long term sobriety) can seem like a good idea, it’s important to make sure that you’re at a point in your recovery where you can bring positivity, support and a healthy outlook on life to the relationship. This is because when two people with the same problem join up it is rare that they will overcome the problem together- often they make it worse by fueling each other’s negative, toxic thought processes.
This February, instead of focusing on finding someone else to love, be your own Valentine. It’s only after you have truly learned to love yourself that you can best love someone else. Here are three reasons why it’s important to develop a sense of self-love, and become stable in your recovery, before sharing that love with another person:
It’s common for people to seek relationships for reasons other than unselfishly sharing love with another human being. Sometimes people seek relationships simply to avoid loneliness, or to gain self-validation. Sometimes it’s a matter of commiseration. Once you have truly developed a sense of self-love, are content with what you already have, and are no longer looking for someone else to make you feel whole, these other needs fall away. It is then you can love truly someone just for the sake of loving them. You will no longer try to fulfill self-seeking needs, and you will be able to build a healthy relationship.
You hear about it over and over again- someone goes through a breakup and ends up relapsing. This can happen when you haven’t built a solid foundation based in self-love and emotional independence. Unhealthy relationships are often centered on codependence, with each person “losing” part of their identity, becoming so entwined with the other. If you never had a strong, positive self-image to begin with this becomes even more difficult and it can be hard to maintain sobriety through a breakup.