“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” –Oscar Wilde
When I was single, I pored over books and blogs, and spent countless hours dissecting relationships in conversation with friends in search of that one great love.
Having observed plenty of relationships, I knew that when I finally found my soul-thrilling, epic love, there would be imperfections in this man that I would have to learn to patiently accept. What I didn't expect was that the hardest person to love in my marriage would be the one staring back at me in the mirror each morning.
I struggle to love myself, constantly battling the poison of envy that breeds discontent and self-hatred, affecting my marriage in ways that all my relationship research didn't prepare me for.
Trained to desire the beauty, wealth, status, fashion, prestige, fame or physique of others, self-loathing has become a natural part of our make up. Comparing ourselves to others is simply part and parcel with what it means to be a woman. Right?
If we are honest with ourselves, how often can we admit that we have dressed up and done our make-up for the other women that will be at an event? How often have we instantly compared and sized them up from that first moment in the room? We may never admit it out loud, but haven’t there been times when we’ve silently rejoiced at the disappointments of others or been resentful when life shines on them instead of on ourselves?
I know because I am the worst of offenders.
I even clothe my envy in more acceptable terms like “insecurity” or “feeling awkward” to hide the ugly truth that I dare not even admit to myself. In doing so, I've given envy the power to puncture my relationships and drain my life of joy and love. I've lashed out at my husband for a thousand self-inflicted wounds, feeding the beast rather than ruthlessly cutting out this poison that threatens to stifle our epic romance.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones,” counsels an old proverb. The scary thing about envy is that it twists us up and breaks us from the inside out. It quietly strangles our relationships as we constantly compare ourselves and what we have (or don’t have) with that of others.
As with loving others, loving ourselves doesn’t mean that we are blind to our flaws. It is not a self-inflated, self-focused, self-centered love, but a love that enables us to look into our own faces and not cringe, a love that accepts that though we are not perfect, we are made this way for a reason. When we truly love ourselves, we can rejoice in the good others experience and weep in their pain.
In a culture riddled with envy, this kind of pure self love is unique, refreshing, and intriguing. It may also be what attracts the other life-long romance for which our hearts yearn.
Photo via Shannon Lee Miller Photography
Based out of Los Angeles, Joanna Hyatt speaks and writes on dating, relationships, and sex. She blogs at