Hi Angie My response is in regards to the one that we choose to spend our life with. I do believe that it's possible to not love yourself and in fact be self-loathing and love your family or close friends, the ones who have been there with you the longest. I believe it's different for the one we choose to be with, our partner/boyfriend/girlfriend.
From my experience I would have to say that to truly love your partner unconditionally you have to first love yourself unconditionally. When we are not accepting and critical of ourselves we tend to also be critical of our partner in some way or another. They are to a degree an extension of ourselves and if we are critical of ourselves we'll take it out on them and when they respond in a way that we don't want and makes us feel bad, we pass judgement on them for this. We may love them but it is a conditional love. Furthermore, when we have not yet learnt to love ourselves, we tend to seek out people to fill voids in our life and thus are with them for the wrong reasons. However, when we are truly comfortable with ourselves and love ourselves unconditionally we seek out someone who respects us and makes us happy rather than someone to make us feel better about ourselves. When you do find someone who respects you and makes you happy and it is someone that you are attracted to, someone who you share that spark with then love just evolves naturally, with no hang-ups, expectations or attachments and this is true love. It is unconditional and lasting.
First of all, the word 'love' has two basic forms. One is conditional love, which most people talk about without realizing it. The other is unconditional love, which in turn most people don't understand.
Secondly, the word 'self' also has two basic forms. One is the self fabricated identity commonly called the ego, or false-self. The other is the true-self, commonly called the Being or Spirit.
The ego-self is conditional because all it cares about is being validated. This is because the mind, which created this identity to make sense of itself, knows it is just a story and is not valid / real.
So when it comes to love, all it cares about is getting loved. And it will do almost anything to get it. It will lie, deceive, pretend, make promises etc, as long as it receives love (admiration).
This is all conditional. And when it gets love it will not be completely satisfied because it knows that it was not unconditional, or if it was, it did not deserve it.
So, to love yourself, the ego-self, is just another ploy by the ego to be appeased. Those that appease there ego-self will easily appease other egos to get appease from them as well.
This type of love is not only conditional, it is also delusional.
The answer is to not love your ego-self, but the true-self. However, the true-self has no story as such to identify it, other than that it knows the truth about yourself. It could be considered your conscience. That bit of you that knows what is true and not true. Itself, as truth is unconditional love. Truth and unconditional love are the same, yet different. The difference is that truth is the only reality, and unconditional love is the expression of that truth. Both truth and unconditional love is reliable, patient, consistent, unchanging, trustworthy, liberating, doubtless and fearless.
To love your true-self, the truth within you, is necessary to be able to express unconditional love. To know your truth is to be ruthfully honest with yourself and others.
Now you can see why most people do not grasp this, because they prefer to avoid such exposure and vulnerability of their false-self (ego).
Conditional love, as i mentioned earlier, is self-serving. Unconditional love is not serving anything but the truth.
To love somebody else unconditionally is to love their truth and their unconditional love. What you would be doing is loving the love that loves you.
In fact, it is pointless to seek, or want, love in your life. Because it is the wanting of it that upholds the belief that you have no love within you, and therefore you need someone else's.
People forget that by getting in touch with the truth will reveal its love within you. People who are in unconditional love are truthful (filled with truth awareness.
It is being truthful that one is filled with unconditional love. In this state, there is no need for love, because they ARE love.
I personally think it true that you need to love yourself to love someone else, in the romantic sense. If you don't love yourself it will manifest itself as confidence and trust issues in the relationships. It will also most likely make you seek validation from the relationship, rather than equal partnership. I've in the past chosen girls who were wanted by a lot of other people, because it boosted my own ego and self-worth to have them choose me and "parade them around", but that causes you to choose based on the wrong criteria and leads to horrible relationships.
It is my experience that it is impossible for humans to love another humans. Here is my reason and how you can test this for yourself. People who love others and don't love themselves are just using kindness to try to elicit love. When we are empty almost every action we conduct is to receive love.
This can be tested in your life. Very few humans can fake love when they don't get what they want, at this moment the real them will show.
Can you see this in yourself?
Have you ever open a door for someone and got upset if they didn't say thank you?
Ever let a car in, in traffic and get upset if they don't wave back?
We basically aggressive take please and thank you from others and demonize them if we don't get our due from giving love.
All in all, Love gives with no expectation.