We’ll never forget that iconic final scene of Sex and the City in which Carrie says, “The most challenging, exciting and significant relationship is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you that you love, well, that’s just fabulous.” We couldn’t agree more with those sentiments, and as we enter February preparing to be inundated with all things romance (or lack thereof), we thought it might be helpful to take a beat to evaluate the most important relationship of all—the one we have with ourselves. Here, eight signs you’re in a healthy relationship with you, as well as tips for improving areas where your self-love lacks.
Here's the difference: When you're in a good place with yourself, you're sharing to connect with others. When you're in a not-so-good place, you use social media to seek out validation, compare yourself with others in ways that aren't healthy or prove something to people whose opinions shouldn't actually matter.
Self-love tip: Before posting anything, evaluate your motive. If it's a moment you want to share and remember, post away. If you're posting so your ex-boyfriend will feel bad about dumping you, or because you don't feel pretty today and want a bunch of friends to comment otherwise on your photo, hold off.
When you love someone, you naturally want to take care of them, whether it's through cooking, massages, lending a sympathetic ear or helping out financially. For some reason, we don't always pay ourselves the same courtesy. Caring for yourself, whatever that means for you—adequate sleep, beauty and spa treatments, quiet time, exercise—is a sure sign you're in a good relationship with you.
Self-love tip: Treat yourself to something that feels indulgent at least once a week, even if it's just a $3 sheet mask and a hot bath.
People who feel good about themselves do not engage in self-shaming when it comes to their sex lives, nor do they sacrifice their own needs or boundaries in order to satisfy others. Instead, they know that sex is a healthy impulse and an intensely individual choice, and they treat it as they would any other aspect of their personal well-being.
Self-love tip: Evaluate your needs and boundaries, and then tell yourself they're valid no matter what your partner or anyone else thinks. Remind yourself of this often.
One of life's harsher truths is that, ultimately, no one can take care of you but you. People can love you, people can help you, but no other person knows what you need, what you're experiencing or what you want. With that in mind, we'd like to encourage you to put yourself first—always!—as people in healthy relationships with themselves are apt to do. This doesn't mean opting to watch Netflix instead of visiting your loved one in the hospital, but it does mean that if you have a loved one in the hospital, you know how to strike the balance between supporting and caring for her and for yourself at the same time.
Self-love tip: Look at all your relationships and root out the ones in which you're sacrificing your health or happiness in an attempt to ensure the health or happiness of another. Once you've identified these problematic relations, make an action list of ways in which you can set better boundaries.
Security is a form of self-care and a sign of self-love. Do you feel that you deserve to have abundance? If not, that may be something to explore as the cause of any lack in your life. Repeating a simple mantra while meditating, like "I am abundant, I have everything I need" can help, too. Think of it this way: If you had children in your care, you'd want them to have everything they need and feel secure monetarily, no? You should feel the same way about yourself. Once you do, you'll no longer undersell your services or be careless with how you spend your cash.
Self-love tip: Imagine that a loved one's financial situation looked like yours, and give yourself the advice you would give him or her. If you don't know what advice you'd give, ask someone who cares about you for constructive input.
Gossip is a technique we've evolved in order to feel better about ourselves, so it stands to reason that if we already feel good about ourselves, we won't feel the need to talk badly or be unkind to others. As the saying goes, "Hurt people hurt people"—when you're at a good place with yourself, you want the best for others.
Self-love tip: If you wouldn't want it said to you or about you, don't say it. Evaluate the feelings behind the hurtful sentiment you want to share, as there are likely some unresolved personal issues lurking there.
This is the hardest one of all. When you're truly in a good place, you're at peace with the ways in which you fall short of your own expectations. Instead of looking in the mirror and critiquing your face and body, you're able to feel compassion for things that aren't 100% within your control—and you practice loving them as they are instead of haranguing yourself for not working out more or aging more gracefully. As another example, you may wish you were less emotional, and you may try to better control your feelings—but you also know that you were born as you are and for every negative side effect of this trait there's a positive one. Healthy people still improve, just from a place of self-love and not self-hate (e.g., "I want to be better" vs. "I need to be better").
Self-love tip: Make a one-time list of your flaws. Just get it all out. Then evaluate each one as if you were looking at a list sent to you by a loved one about herself, and caveat each accordingly. For example, look at "I'm fat" and respond as you would to a friend, with "You're beautiful and loved the way you are—your weight has no effect on how I or anyone who loves you feels about you." Feels pretty good, right?
People who truly love themselves aren't swayed by outside opinions, good or bad. If you believe the good things people say about you, you'll also be vulnerable to believing the bad things. Most of us, unfortunately, operate in an even more unhealthy manner than this—by largely disregarding the positive things people say and focusing exclusively on negative critiques. When you're in a solid relationship with yourself, nothing that comes at you from outside can change the way you feel.
Self-love tip: Keep a running list of positive things you've accomplished or done for others that are inherent to your personality. This shouldn't include compliments paid by outsiders but rather things you feel good about on a deep, internal level.