“I am always in love but love starts with yourself.”

-Oscar De La Renta

This is Part 21 in a series of article about the “self.”

You can’t love anybody else unless you love yourself first.

Young people (much like older people!) put great importance on love.

And why not? It is a crucial part of life.

But love is a complicated subject and most people get it wrong at first–some never get it right!

We get love confused with its imposters (a subject for another day) but the key to understanding love at all is to know what you will read here today.

Oscar De La Renta, the famous clothing designer, was interviewed in the Toronto Star by Jeanne Beker. The photo above is from his 2012 collection introduced in New York in November.

He was announcing a new perfume called “Live In Love” and said he had been astonished to learn that the name of the perfume he needed a name for had not been registered.

“It’s the way we all so strongly aspire to live life, to love in love–loving what surrounds you, loving your life, loving what you’ve made of your life, loving the moment…”

Becker said that we hear about so many people looking for love because we think finding the right person to love means we will be complete. Hmmm.

De La Renta replied,

Oscar De la Renta. Photo: James Nord

“I am always in love but first of all love starts with yourself. You cannot love someone unless you love yourself. Because love is about how you live your life. You cannot be madly in love with someone if you are unhappy with yourself.”



He related it to happiness and said,

“Happiness has nothing to do with wealth. It has to do with your spirit.  And you have to discover that spirit to discover happiness.”

He’s right, of course.

  • You certainly can’t be happy unless you love yourself.
  • You cannot love anyone else if you don’t love yourself.
  • You can’t give away what you don’t have.
    If you don’t love yourself you can’t give that love to someone else.

People think they can love someone else if they don’t love themselves.

In fact, they convince themselves that they are indeed loving persons because they “love” someone  (although not themselves).

They think that although they themselves are unlovable (in their own minds and hearts) other people ARE loveable and they can love them. (That’d be good, they think.) They feel they can connect in that way.

They can love others even if they can’t love themselves.

Not true.

What they have, or do, is not love, it is a bastardized connection based on inequality or yearning. It can’t be reciprocated unless the relationship is dysfunctional. Unfortunately, it is common.

Pity can come back to the person who lacks self-love. So can concern and a kind of mild affection but not real love, unless it is a love based on sympathy, and that’s not what is desired, is it?

And sometimes, what comes back to these people is discomfort, even disdain, because what they project is recognized by the intended love object, as false, or inadequate love or, simply, not real love but something else.

Sometimes, resentment can build in the loved one because the loved one does not feel real love but need  coming from the “unlovable” one. That need on the part of  the loveless, turns into a silent (or not so silent!) demand for a return of the love they are trying to complete with the loved one.

It is not pretty.

It gets worse.

One who does not love himself/herself cannot give real love but cannot receive love either.


Because the “unlovable” one does not believe anyone else could love him or her (they know the “truth”–that they are unlovable. They “know” this! You can’t convince them they are worth loving.)

And, “knowing ” this to be true,  then they suspect that any affection that comes to them is fraught with baggage. They think the people who say they love them are lying, mistaken, manipulative or stupid.

Otherwise they, too, would recognize that  the would-be lover is unlovable and reject them.

Complicated, yes.

But also simple.

You cannot love someone else if you do not love yourself.
And you cannot accept love from another if you do not love yourself.

To go even deeper, you cannot love what you do not know.
Therefore, you cannot love yourself unless you know yourself.

Everything is centered in Self-Knowledge.

There’s more to this than I’ve written here.

When you began to know yourself, you’ll discover how great you are! And then– and then– you will start to love yourself, if you don’t already.

If you already do love yourself, terrific, then you’ll  learn more about you, always a good thing.

Keep you out of trouble.

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