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  1. #1
    Can't be satisfied. Peter Deadpan's Avatar
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    Question Debate: Worthiness of Love and Depression

    So I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I think I'd like to write an article about it, but it helps me to hear other people's perspectives first and bounce ideas off of one another.

    How do you feel/what do you think when you hear the following claims about love, ***specifically in relation to those dealing with depression:

    "Love yourself before loving another."
    "Love when you're ready, not when you're lonely."
    "No one is going to love you if you don't love yourself."
    "Learn how to be alone and like it."
    Etc., etc., etc....

    A Facebook friend posted the following quote today: "Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have."
    This was my response:

    " I understand the message, but lately I've been thinking about the ramifications these claims have on people with depression.
    'You can't love someone until you love yourself.'
    'Learn to be happy alone.'
    Etc., Etc....
    While there is certainly truth to these statements, it's simply not that easy for depressed individuals to consistently manifest these thoughts and feelings. They too deserve to be loved. As long as you've worked through any destructive behavior and you're mature enough to treat a potential lover with respect while respecting your own boundaries, then I say you are free to pursue a relationship, preferably with someone who acknowledges and accepts your depression and is willing to do their best to stand next to you when things get a little tough."

    Depression is a sneaky bitch. It comes and it goes and then it comes back again just when you're thinking "oh hey... I think I finally beat this, I've been feeling pretty good for months." It lies to you, and for awhile you believe it. That's why it hurts so fucking bad. Does this mean that you are a failure who doesn't deserve love? My answer is a firm "NO." Some people are inherently more depressed when they are single. Depression also tends to come with a generous portion of guilt and shame. Reinforcing the belief that you are unworthy of love if if you cannot master happiness alone offers little more than a catalyst for darkness for those who suffer from depression.

    Love is not a feeling. Sure, plenty of feelings accompany love, but the wisest amongst us have realized that love is an act; a decision you make repeatedly to your best abilities, even in the face of challenge. It is choosing another person everyday, so long as boundaries are not being crossed in a disrespectful manner. Love is understanding, forgiveness, and holding space for another you care about deeply.

    Here is another personal definition of love I posted to my Facebook page not long ago:

    "You can be broken, with bits of you falling away as you move through this world. When you find someone else, they can be broken too. Together, you can look at the debris behind and around both of you, acknowledging it and proclaiming 'I see your missing pieces and I still love you.' What you CANNOT do, under ANY circumstances, is pick up any fallen pieces of you or your lover and throw it at them. It doesn't matter who originally owned the piece you picked up; you're the one who used it as a weapon. That is not love. That is seeing a void and wanting to use pain to magnify it, and it is fucked up. It's also human, so add it to the rest of the debris and move on.
    If you can do this, and you've found someone you really like who can do this, then congratulations; you've found love."

    Let the discussion begin...

  2. #2
    The Bat Man highlander's Avatar
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    I think the whole "love yourself" thing is overemphasized. What does it even mean?

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  3. #3
    AKA Nunki Polaris's Avatar
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    "Love yourself before loving another."
    I think it would be better to say "Be at peace with yourself before loving another." I think that truly loving oneself is narcissism and a bit weird.

    "Love when you're ready, not when you're lonely."
    You should be ready before you do anything. That goes without saying. Anyway, I think that loneliness is a perfectly good reason to seek out company, including company of a romantic kind. Loneliness is your mind's way of suggesting that you go out and form connections with good people, and why shouldn't you do that? Cutting yourself off from romantic or other types of relationships isn't doing you any favors. Do I think a lonely person is ready for a relationship? Yes, if their loneliness is just plain loneliness. If it includes a desire to cling to people, then, of course, the person may not be ready for a romantic relationship.

    "No one is going to love you if you don't love yourself."
    Self-loathers are generally less attractive than people who are comfortable with themselves. They tend to advertise themselves as undesirable and send off vibes that say "I'm unworthy of your company." Both are fairly effective ways to keep people away. I think, though, that going so far as to say that no one is going to love you if you don't love yourself is an exaggeration. There are plenty of people who are undeterred or even attracted by psychological issues.

    "Learn how to be alone and like it."
    I don't see how enjoying being alone prepares someone for a relationship. When you're with someone, enjoying being alone is really not an asset anymore because the conditions for it are gone. For more general purposes, I do think it's good to be capable of enjoying being alone, just as it's good to be capable of enjoying most things in life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Deadpan
    Love is not a feeling.
    When I say "love," I do mean a feeling. A feeling entails wishes that a person may or may not act on. Sometimes love is entirely undemonstrative.
    [ Ni > Ti > Fe > Fi > Ne > Te > Si > Se ][ 4w5 sp/sx ][ RLOAI ][ IEI-Ni ]
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  4. #4
    Can't be satisfied. Peter Deadpan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polaris View Post
    When I say "love," I do mean a feeling. A feeling entails wishes that a person may or may not act on. Sometimes love is entirely undemonstrative.
    Is it love if it's undemonstrative? Not reciprocated in terms of 2 people mutually saying "I accept you even when you fuck up a little or are a bit insufferable." The feeling fades. Then it returns. Then it fades again. It takes real effort to remember why you love someone when that rollercoaster hits a temporary dip. It happens in all long-term relationships. Sometimes it's nothing overtly "bad," it might just be a lack of sparks or connection that needs to be rekindled a bit.

  5. #5
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    What you're describing here IS self-love, it is self-understanding, tolerance and patience for the whole of the person that you are with or without depression. So I think you're on the right track to both having a quality relationship with yourself, and a potential significant other who understands your depression. When you yourself no longer have any residual doubts about your depression's ability to impede your own personal ability or deservingness to give or receive love from someone else, you will no longer be bothered by people sharing advice on this particular subject.
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  6. #6
    Can't be satisfied. Peter Deadpan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xann View Post


    What you're describing here IS self-love, it is self-understanding, tolerance and patience for the whole of the person that you are with or without depression. So I think you're on the right track to both having a quality relationship with yourself, and a potential significant other who understands your depression. When you yourself no longer have any residual doubts about your depression's ability to impede your own personal ability or deservingness to give or receive love from someone else, you will no longer be bothered by people sharing advice on this particular subject.
    Wow, thank you. That is beautifully reaffirming.
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  7. #7
    AKA Nunki Polaris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Deadpan
    Is it love if it's undemonstrative?
    Can someone who is completely paralyzed love? Of course, even though they wouldn't be able to demonstrate their love.

    The feeling fades. Then it returns. Then it fades again.
    Yes, and I think that's how love is. It's very romantic to think of it as being eternal, but I don't think that's realistic. Love is more like sunlight; it comes and goes as the weather sees fit.
    [ Ni > Ti > Fe > Fi > Ne > Te > Si > Se ][ 4w5 sp/sx ][ RLOAI ][ IEI-Ni ]
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  8. #8
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Fair warning, this strikes a nerve for me, and I'm practically just writing my own OP (although I did read the actual OP).

    The statement "you cannot loves others until you love yourself", and all of its paraphrasings, is one of the worst aphorisms I've ever known. Among my all time most hated, probably along with just world hypotheses and maybe a few others I'm not thinking of right now.

    1: It makes no sense.
    2: It is more harmful than helpful.

    Let's break both of those down.

    1.
    The statement does not explain itself. You are supposed to just accept that it's true. But why? I cannot seem to connect A to B here. Loving others requires me to love myself because...? It is patently obvious that an individual's relationship with others, of any kind, whether it be feelings, or actions, or whatever, is not necessarily a mirror of their relationship to themselves. Hell, it probably usually isn't. I would think you only have to do cursory analysis of anyone else's relationships, or the history of your own, to know this is true. If it's not generally true, then some kind of reasoning must be given specific to love. Why does love always match one's attitude toward the self? If love if is a feeling, I don't see why that would hold. I'm pretty sure I've loved other people more than I've loved myself... hell, I'm pretty sure I've loved cats more than I love myself. Am I supposed to just take the word of someone who's never been in my head that I don't feel what I'm fairly confident I felt? Fuck that. There's no reason to give their word more credibility, and there is still no logical explanation here.

    What if it's not a feeling but an action or a system of actions? That holds even less water because it's more demonstrably false. People constantly do for others what they do not do for themselves. It's practically the definition of being a parent. And if what we're boiling love down to actions, my idea of a loving action is a giving one, which is basically directed away from the ego by definition. If your idea of love is defined in terms of actions, and you think you have to love yourself to love other people, that basically means you'd never give anyone 5 bucks unless you first made sure you got 5 bucks and balanced out the loss. That sounds more like being a selfish prick than loving other people, to me. In other words, this would make you less loving toward other people.

    So back to square one. Which part of loving other people operationally depends on some part of loving myself to already be in place?

    2.
    If put into practice, this formulation is almost perfectly designed to make people do the wrong thing.

    First of all, it only hurts people who have low self-esteem. I think this is the main thing to OP is getting at. Suppose someone isn't feeling good about themselves, and you tell them that they are incapable of engaging in one of the most meaningful parts of life and something that tends to be deemed fundamentally good and even a measure of a what good person is. How is that supposed to work? You're basically going up to someone with a low self-esteem, and telling them, "hey, because of your low self-esteem, you're going to miss one of the most important parts of life, and you're a broken, kind of shitty person" You've just given them another reason to feel bad about themselves, and if you've made a death spiral, because you just told them to feel bad about feeling bad about themselves. Furthermore, that statement is entirely disempowering. It tells them what they can't do, doesn't tell them anything they can do. Which is the second thing.

    This statement is devoid of useful suggestions. It's all about detailing how your affliction will ruin you, and nothing about how to treat the affliction. If a person has self-esteem problems, it's a pretty safe guess they aren't sure how to develop self-esteem. Perhaps you should try telling them how to do that, instead of idiotically telling they might want to do that. No shit. It's like saying "I really think you should stop being sick". I find most people who like to throw this wisdom around are kind of dry wells when it comes to suggestions for how to actually deal with low self-esteem itself, rendering them virtually useless.

    So if you're keeping track, what we're doing so far, is telling a person who feels bad about themselves that feeling bad about themselves gives them even more reason to feel bad about themselves, though we cannot explain why, and we have no suggestions about how they should actually stop feeling bad about themselves.

    Unfortunately that's all. It's also harmful in an entirely separate way. That's because this notion has a corollary (though, technically, not a logically necessary one, just an intuitive one apparently). The corollary is that, if someone is unloving, even hateful, it means they don't love themselves. And that means, getting someone to love themselves might be a solution to making them more loving. And this is a terrible, terrible idea. In the final sense, it basically means you should give emotional support to sociopaths. See someone being a dick? Make them feel good about themselves. This is what lead to the ludicrous, fuck-up of an idea that if you just automatically try inject everyone with self-esteem preemptively, you'll cut down failure and abuse. Start with kids, they'll get good grades and stop bullying. But it's never worked. And it's probably made everything worse.

    The idea can also be self-servingly abused firsthand. If I have to love myself before I can love anyone else, then you're all on the back burner until I love myself. When will that be? As I've pointed out, nobody knows. It's not an operational idea. So, you can't tell me I'm wrong if I state that I'm still striving toward loving myself for an indefinite period of time. It could take the rest of my life. Fuck you, I can't love you yet, I'm still working on loving myself.

    ...

    I'm almost done here, but let me just preempt some of the defense of the aphorism. There's a typical way I see it defended. That is to redefine love, and then re-redefine love, and then re-re-redefine love, etc.. until it has no meaning at all, and thus can mean anything you want it to mean, and the statement becomes unassailable. Unfortunately it also makes it useless in its meaninglessness. If this thread picks up steam and starts an argument, I'll be damned if that doesn't happen.

    Also, if you've known people with low self-esteem, and you've told them this, and they don't like it, perhaps that's a clue that this isn't very good advice. You should take feedback from people you're trying to help. if you're really trying to help them. I often get the sense that people are far more invested in defending this idea or themselves for saying it than they are in helping in anyone. Like, for some reason I can't perceive, this is for them much more than it's for any of the unhappy people they are saying it to.

    ...

    Okay. I could probably spend all day adding more and more criticism onto this, but I think I got the urge out of my system. I guess I'll wind it down with this last thought.

    Chronically low self-esteem is exhausting. It's really exhausting to try helping someone with that problem, I'm aware of that from both sides of the relationship. So when it comes to counseling a person with low self-esteem, ask yourself these questions before you say or do anything.

    Do I really want to do this?
    Am I cutout for doing this effectively?
    Can I afford to bother with doing this?

    If the answer to any of those is no, just don't try to help. You and the person with the self-esteem problems will be better for it.

    EDIT: Given the speed at which I typed this, it probably has more errors than I feel like dealing with right now. Sorry.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  9. #9
    one way trip Abendrot's Avatar
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    I believe that when one believes oneself to be unworthy of love (rightly or not), they can love another, but they cannot accept the love of others. This is so because it is painful to experience undeserved pleasure, just as it may be pleasurable in a sense to punish the self.

    The remedy is not to be found in learning to "love oneself", but rather in becoming someone who is worthy of love. Love must be earned, and there are many people who are unworthy of love.

    This is not to say that people should engage in self-flagellation. Self-overcoming is good, but one must accept oneself and hold it to reasonable expectations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abendrot View Post
    I believe that when one believes oneself to be unworthy of love (rightly or not), they can love another, but they cannot accept the love of others. This is so because it is painful to experience undeserved pleasure, just as it may be pleasurable in a sense to punish the self.

    The remedy is not to be found in learning to "love oneself", but rather in becoming someone who is worthy of love. Love must be earned, and there are many people who are unworthy of love.

    This is not to say that people should engage in self-flagellation. Self-overcoming is good, but one must accept oneself and hold it to reasonable expectations.
    I mostly agree with your post, but I think you perhaps have over-objectivized the concept of love, as Te users are wont to do. Being worthy of love is a subjective concept and dependent on the particular person and their subjective standards of desire. Do babies deserve love, even though they cannot fend for themselves nor even yet have any concrete understanding of other peoples' existence at all? Love is many times not earned, and yet given, even or especially in a romantic sense. This however does not negate the importance of continual self-overcoming as you noted, as well, to maximize the love that one is able to both give and receive from oneself and others. Learning to love oneself can be simply understood as becoming self-aware and affirming in a positive sense of one's own relation to the objectivity of others and reality itself.
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