Not much in life compares to the thrill of a new connection or the sound of a new match promising excitement and adventure. There’s a little rush of dopamine—a sense of validation knowing that someone thought you were hot enough or interesting to swipe right on. You would be surprised—or maybe you wouldn’t—to know how many of my clients are addicted to the sound of a like or a swipe.
I almost hesitate to call it an addiction, but chemistry plays a key role.
We get so caught up chasing fairy tales and connections and the idea of someone perfect that we often lose track of ourselves. In today’s post, we’ll explore why it’s important to know your worth and value yourself more than you crave validation from someone else.
Why Does Self-Worth Matter?
When we’re starving for love and validation, it makes us vulnerable to manipulation and abuse. Think of a thirsty wanderer in the desert. When they finally find an oasis with a pool of fresh water, it seems like salvation. It’s easy to ignore red flags and signs of danger when you’re intoxicated by how good it feels to be loved—especially for those who grew up in abusive environments with parents who didn’t accept them.
Think of self-worth as a defense mechanism, like an antivirus for relationships or a force field against predators and abusers. Without self-worth, it’s easy to end up in a situation where your insecurities and negative thoughts are amplified or even encouraged by prospective partners.
When you know you’re worthy of love, there’s less pressure to look for it somewhere else. Secure individuals are happy on their own or with someone else. When the stakes for dating are lower, there’s less emotional intensity attached to it. You may be a wanderer in the desert, but if you’ve got your own supply of water, you can focus on getting to your destination instead of searching for an oasis.
What does it mean when the stakes are lower? It means we can have fun. We can play! Valuing and loving yourself grants you the freedom to explore, knowing you’re well-prepared for the journey.
Valuing yourself allows you to set and enforce boundaries with confidence. Without it, it’s easy to second-guess yourself and allow others to put you in uncomfortable cases. When you know your value, you can clearly and effectively communicate what is acceptable and what isn’t without feeling threatened.
When you recognize your own value, it’s easier to filter out people who aren’t right for you. Choosing who you invite into your life and spend time on is something you should do with care. You may worry your expectations are unrealistic or your standards too high—but you can explore those questions without devaluing yourself.
When you value yourself and have a strong sense of your own identity, it’s easier to guard against unhealthy relationship dynamics like codependency. It’s fairly common for people to vanish into their relationships, neglecting their interests and friendships. Having a wider support system and other sources of validation lightens the emotional pressure you place on your partners.
We all experience periods of low self-esteem and insecurity, but those feelings can quickly turn good chemistry into something explosive. Loving yourself is a skill—and it’s not one that many are taught as children. You need to learn and practice it as an adult, like picking up a new language. As a therapist, we work with clients to confront and overcome old patterns of behavior and negative thoughts so they can learn to love themselves. If you’re looking for help, we'd love to learn more about your struggle and how we can be of service.
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