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Spotlight: The difficulty in loving

Posted: Thursday, Oct 11th, 2012

It is not easy to give all your love to someone who is incapable of giving all his or her love to you!

I chose the topic of this week’s article because it is a situation faced by five couples that I know. Four cases were with the men loathing themselves and the women trying to love them, and one case was with the woman loathing herself and the man trying to love her.

There are probably different measures of loathing. By this I mean, we all get upset with ourselves from time to time, but sometimes people can take it farther than a single upset. When self-loathing becomes a constant issue in a relationship, things go down hill quickly.

My brother recently shared his opinion on the subject and said that it’s too hard to love someone who can’t even love himself or herself. If they can’t fully love themselves, how can they fully give love to another.

Some psychologists would argue that point of view by saying it is possible for them to love others without loving themselves. Some believe that because it is a self-loathing and not a loathing of others then it is possible for them to love others even if they don’t love themselves.

Regardless of who the self-loathing person is in the relationship, it will be a difficult journey. It’s a situation in which the other person has to decide if they can, or want to stay with the self-loathing person. Even if it is possible for them to love another without loving themselves, it can be difficult to watch the person you love hating themselves and at times, hating life.

Experts believe that self-loathing comes from two types of situations in a person’s life: either (1) the person has experienced things in life that have caused an overall loathing for themselves, or (2) The person thinks they are lacking in certain qualities and that causes the self-loathing. One is an external factor based on how they perceive things that have happened to them, the other an internal factor based on how they perceive themselves.

If a self-loathing person thinks they are lacking in something, then the tendency might be to turn to another to find what is missing in their own life. They will look to another to “fill the gap.” This can feel good, in the beginning. Most people really like to feel like they are needed, but it can also put a lot of pressure on the other person and if they are unable to give the self-loathing person what they are missing the relationship can blow up. It can also come off as being too needy, too dependent, and too clingy.

Self-loathers tend to only notice the negative things you say about them, or obsess over what others might be thinking about them, they read into everything you say and find a negative twist to it. They don’t take praise well. Such a relationship can be very exhausting to the other person, who spends most of their time trying to make the self-loather feel better about themselves, and trying to build them up.

I won’t try to give anyone advice as to what to do if you are with a self-loathing person, except to say that it might be a good idea to ask others for help. What I have learned from personal experience is that you can’t make another person change, no matter how much you love them. They have to be willing to change, willing to try, willing to put forth the effort to make their own life better.

If you have been with a self-loathing person for a while it means that you are a patient, caring, and understanding person, all of which are good things. However, you also have to think about yourself as well and make sure you are healthy and happy.

If you find fulfillment in caring for the other person’s needs and it simply is “a quirk” of theirs that doesn’t require too much self-sacrifice on your part then great. If however, you find yourself sacrificing all the time, and your well-being is at stake, them something needs to change.

Change sometimes isn’t easy, but Mark D. White Ph.D. said, “Don’t let other people’s failure to love themselves make you forget to love yourself.”

Love is the greatest gift anyone can give, or receive. For that reason my heart goes out to all of you dealing with this type of relationship. It is my hope that everyone experiences true, unconditional love. I wish you the best in finding love on your journey of life.

Tori Vigil is an author, inspirational speaker, and reporter. She can be reached at torivigil@yahoo.com

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