We, as a society, are positively in love with love.
We have love stories. We have “rom-coms” and romances and Harlequins and young-adult novel love-triangles. We have countless songs telling us that “all you need is love” and “I was made for loving you, baby.“ We maintain Pinterest boards, planning out our dream wedding for that day when we finally find the right person.
We have this idea in our society that we are not complete human beings, that we need someone else to complete us, to make us whole. And once we find that other half, then everything will come together and we’ll live happily ever after.
Our obsession with love is an oddly limited sort of obsession. We do not care all that much for a sort of love felt toward all mankind; some find that admirable, sure, but if the amount of violent video games and movies where the heroes preach shooting first and asking questions later is any indication, then this sort of love is too often forgotten about. We do not show the same level of obsession toward platonic love between friends or siblings or family members; we like it sometimes—but it isn’t quite represented the same.
No, our specific breed of obsession is toward romantic love.
And this can be somewhat alienating to people who have no interest in romantic or sexual love, especially for people who identify as asexual. But even if we do not identify with this term, this obsession can still feel somewhat harmful.
This obsession might make us feel like we need to be in a relationship—no matter who it’s with. Because we find our value by attaching ourselves to another person—any person—and it’s better to settle than be alone.
Except it isn’t.
This obsession might lead us toward feelings of depression and loneliness when we’re single, feelings of being not good enough, of being unloveable, just because we aren’t currently involved with someone.
But that isn’t true.
This obsession might force us to make sacrifices that we wouldn’t otherwise make, because we’ve been told by everyone and everything—by our friends, family, movies, magazines, songs, self-help books—that love is the most important thing in this world, and nothing else can possibly compare.
But there are more important things.
Like, say, our happiness.
I won’t deny that romantic love can be fulfilling, as well as a great source of happiness. But, despite our society’s obsession with it, it isn’t really the most important type of love out there.
After all, self-love is more important.
It is more important for us to find completeness within ourselves than within another person. It is more important for us to value ourselves before we value our relationships.
Because, at the end of the day, people leave. Circumstances change. The world turns, and things don’t always turn out for the best but, ideally speaking, we should always be able to depend on ourselves.
Self-love is what will make us realize that we deserve better than to settle for a relationship that doesn’t make us happy.
Self-love is what will make us realize that our comfort matters—that our dreams and desires and wishes matter just as much as anyone else’s.
Self-love is what will make us realize that, even if we aren’t in a relationship right now, that doesn’t mean that we are unloveable.
So maybe all we need is love, but it isn’t always romantic love. Sometimes, the only sort of love we really need is to look in the mirror and realize that the person looking back at us is strong, capable, resilient, and worthwhile. That that person is loveable, even if, right now, that love doesn’t come in the form of a lover.
Author: Ciara Hall
Image: Gustavo Spindula/Unsplash
Editor: Taia Butler
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina