Is Your Self-Worth Tied to Your Relationship Status?
Wednesday, February 13 2013 Emily Roberts MA, LPC
Is your self-worth tied to your relationship status? All too often, people have a negative or judgmental reaction to being "single". Certain times of the year can be harder to be single than others. Valentine's Day, the holidays and even hearing of close friends getting hitched can be a jolt to our mindset. But tying your self-worth to your relationship status gives a false sense of self-esteem whether it's raised or lowered.
Feelings of Self-Worth and Relationship Status
Family and friends often perpetrate the myth that relationships equate to feeling whole, "Oh you haven't found the one yet?" as if one needs a partner to find happiness and security within themselves. This is so not the case and it's important to become aware of your own thoughts and judgments on any relationship status in order to get clear on how a romantic relationship effects your self-esteem and self-worth.
I know plenty of people who are single, seeking, shacked up, even married who are unhappy with themselves. Many lack security and self-worth regardless of their relationship status. Nothing and no one can change how you feel about yourself, except you. Can people enhance this or deter this? Absolutely, but the idea of building self-esteem through another is bogus. In fact, being single can be the single most important time for developing a healthy relationship with yourself for life.
Stop Comparing. It's Ruining Your Self-Worth
When you’re single or in an unhappy or unhealthy relationship, it’s easy to make generalizations: “Everyone is in a relationship except me" or "All those couples are happy." Please stop doing this! Comparisons only keep you bogged down in negative thoughts, rather, use these thoughts to help you release your misconceptions on how a relationship can save you or increase your self-esteem.
Your Self-Worth in 3 Questions
There are 3 questions that can to change your views on being single regardless of your relationship status. They contribute to building confidence, self-worth and the right relationship with yourself, so you can embark on a healthy relationship with another person. When the right partner comes along, they are an additive to your already amazing persona.
1. What other areas of your life bring you joy?
A client of mine was stuck in break-up mode. Instead of focusing all her energy on what she was lacking and missing, she started to look at her job, friendships and taking care of herself; areas that made her feel happy. Reconnecting with areas that brought her joy and investing time into them, brought a sense of peace to her life. She realized that she had neglected her passion for writing and running. Joining a running group to prep for a half marathon and writing for a local column got her back in touch with herself and brought her more self-worth than a partner could.
2. In a non-romantic way, who do you feel loved by? Who do you give love to?
Love is an amazing feeling and doesn't have to come from a romantic relationship. This is misconception that we make when we are in a negative spot or let our satisfaction (or lack thereof) with our relationship status get the best of us. Recognizing there are people in your life that genuinely care about you, who love you and who you feel good around should not be taken for granted. We often only think about how love comes from a boyfriend, girlfriend or partner. This is not true. Look at the relationships you already have and increase the love that already exists. On a day where you are feeling particularly stuck (Valentines Day anyone?), call on these guys. Make plans with them, reach out for a phone call or Skype session. If you are taken, still seek out these relationships too, as they only add to your positive energy and reconnect you with your self-worth.
3. What do I want in a future romantic relationship? More importantly, how do I want to feel?
This question is tricky. Often times, clients will give me physical characteristics or qualities associated with their ideal partner. While this is great, getting clear on the type of personality they want to spend their precious time around and how they want to feel are the most important aspects of this exercise. Each relationship you had before now has been a learning experience, some might say a blessing. What did you like, not like, or enjoy with that person? How did you feel as a partner? A young man told me: "I want a woman I am attracted to but also who pushes me to work harder and is supportive of my goals." This is a great example. He is not only describing his ideal mate but the way he would like to feel with her. When we get clear on what we want, we tend to put energy into attracting these qualities in others.
One major misconception is that our outward appearance is indicative of our ability to attract a partner. Attraction more than meets the eye. Relationship expert, Dr .Stuart Fischer, describes this as "the inside-out, outside-in” reinvention. This acknowledges the fact that the different components of your image are interdependent. For example, putting a little extra effort into your outfit and time in front of the mirror will likely increase your confidence in your appearance. This also effects your self-esteem and, perhaps, even the way you stand or walk. Feeling confident or worthy will like encourage positive decisions that increase attractiveness. Change occurs in both directions at the same time, so that physical, emotional, and social improvement is thought of as a single unit, not separate problems to be dealt with sequentially.
Want more tips on confidence building and boosting self-esteem? And don't forget to show yourself and those around you some love this Valentine's Day, regardless of your relationship status.
Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.