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Philautia's Trap

Philautia- The Greek word for self-love; 'love of self'.

I have a bone to pick with the subject of love.

Well, I have several bones to pick, but those are for another day.

Love, in all its forms, has always been hard for me to come by.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I understand what it is- in the friends and family aspect at least- and what it is not.

This is about how we love and how others love us.

Go on YouTube and search for the answer to something completely unattainable, like ‘how to gain confidence’ or 'how to get your crush to like you’. I guarantee that one of the first pieces of advice that someone will give you is to love yourself first.

People who struggle to find love are often advised to love themselves before seeking any other form of love. I was told if I truly loved myself, I wouldn’t feel the need to search or yearn for a love outside of myself. I was told, in order to get true, real love, I had to be the perfect version of myself, and even then, someone else loving me was still up in the air. I was told that the reward for committing myself to the hard, hard labor of self-love was a fair shot at its other forms.

That’s what I was told, so that is what I believed.

For a shot at a love that I daydreamed and wrote about for ages, I was willing to put myself through the wringer, hoping I would come out pristine and loveable in the end. While I strove for perfection inside and out, I did not expect people to love me, or even respect and acknowledge my emotions. When I liked someone or wanted to make new friends, I would overextend myself to prove my worth to them. In the name of self-love, I refused to pursue serious romantic relationships. I was constantly saying to myself: “when I get my braces taken off, when I get rid of my ugly razor scars, when I fix this part of my personality, when my teeth are pearly white, when I’m able to be kind and courteous no matter what, when I dress the way that I really want to; then I’ll finally be worthy of love.’ The list was long- and got even longer whenever I had a crush on someone.

I didn’t realize how bankrupt that line of thinking was until a little while ago.

I fell into what I personally like to call Philautia’s Trap-The idea that one must master the elusive art of self-love in order to be deserving of any of its other forms.

It’s the laziest answer to those who desire the presence of Philia and Eros in their lives. It is much easier to put ourselves to the test, to chase something that will always give chase (perfection) than it is, to tell the truth.

We need love. All of it. In every way that it presents itself.

Believe it or not; we need validation, attention, and love from others. It’s a simple truth. Love from within is simply not enough, despite what anyone says. Self-love is not a substitution for its other forms. We need to love others, and we need to be loved. The codependency of human nature should never be ignored. Anyone that tries to is fooling themselves. Love is not something that you work for a 'chance’ at. You deserve love at every step of your life. You deserve it simply because you exist. Because it is human nature to love and to be loved, in every form.

Philautia alone will not satisfy you.

It will sustain you on the days and long nights when you will be by yourself. It will give you strength and solace when you need to be by yourself. It will assure you that there are people out there that can love you- people out there that will love you- people that do love you. Philautia on its own cannot fill the hole that family, friends, and lovers should. That was never its objective.

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