Women who have a hard time with self-love usually display these 6 behaviors (without realizing it)

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When you hear ‘self-love’ what springs to mind? When I first heard it, I thought it was all about having a relaxing day at the spa and treating yourself to coffee and cake on Sundays. I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

Now I know, it’s about being a great friend to yourself. It centers on understanding, forgiveness, and self-compassion.  

Psychotherapist Sharon Martin, DSW, LCSW explains “Self-love entails accepting yourself wholeheartedly, treating yourself with kindness and respect, and prioritizing your physical and emotional health.”

Here’s the thing: some people struggle with self-love. And I was one of those people. When I started my journey, I found out that it’s not as easy as it sounds to just show yourself love. But I stuck with it and over the last few years, I’ve learned how to embrace self-love. 

Along the way, I realized that it wasn’t just me who struggled. Plenty of women face challenges when it comes to self-love and most of them don’t even realize it. Could you be one of them? 

Today I’m sharing 6 behaviors a woman displays when she has a hard time with self-love. After all, the first step to improving something is acknowledging the problem, right?

1) They struggle to set and maintain boundaries

I wish setting and maintaining boundaries was second nature to everyone by now but sadly, we’re not there yet. 

Setting personal boundaries is all about being clear on what you’re willing to accept from someone and what you’re not. Women who struggle with self-love find this really tough. 

It’s no secret that women who have a hard time with self-love often lack self-esteem which makes setting and maintaining boundaries incredibly challenging. They’re more focused on pleasing others than upholding their personal limits. 

My friend Amanda suffers from low self-esteem and she finds it difficult to maintain boundaries. She’ll create a boundary but then as soon as someone crosses it, she’ll let it slide because she can’t handle the thought of pushing back or creating conflict. 

Strong boundaries are the foundation of self-love so if you find it difficult to set and maintain them, chances are you’ll also have a hard time showing love to yourself. 

2) They’re overly critical of themselves

Women who have a hard time with self-love are usually overly critical of themselves. It’s like they’ve got one set of expectations for others which are fair and realistic. And then they’ve got a completely different set of expectations for themselves which are insanely unrealistic. 

Does this strike a chord with you? 

Women who are too self-critical have a habit of doing things that make self-love difficult, such as:

  • Blaming themselves for every negative situation
  • Comparing themselves to others 
  • Having impossibly high standards

The thing is: you’d never criticize a friend like this. You’d be proud of them for trying and you’d show them love and forgiveness for their mistakes. Why don’t you treat yourself the same? 

Being overly critical of yourself is another one of those behaviors that suggests you’ll have a hard time with self-love. 

Fashion designer Diane Furstenberg was onto something when she said “When a woman becomes her own best friend life is easier.” Why not take a leaf out of her book? 

3) They find it hard to ask for help

Do you find it hard to ask for help? 

Asking for help requires a certain degree of confidence and bravery. Many women are held back from seeking help due to fear of rejection, judgment and not feeling good enough which all stem from their lack of confidence.

I struggled to ask for help in my younger years. I was always afraid of the judgment of other people. I worried about what they’d think about me needing help like they’d think less of me if they knew I couldn’t do it all alone.  

As I gained confidence and experience I realized something that set me free: nobody succeeds by going it alone. Asking for help sometimes takes courage and vulnerability but the benefits outweigh the costs every single time. 

If you find it hard to ask for help, think about what clinical psychologist and author Anne Wilson Schaef said “Asking for help does not mean that we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.”

Flip the script and view asking for help as a strength and a show of intelligence, instead of a sign of weakness. With this perspective, self-love becomes a whole lot easier too. 

4) They constantly seek validation from others

Everyone deserves to feel seen, heard, and understood, right? That’s what emotional validation is all about. It’s important for mental health and well-being. 

There are two different types of validation: external, which is the validation we get from our friends, family, and loved ones. Then there’s internal validation which comes from within us. 

The tricky thing is: people who have a hard time with self-love often seek validation from others to an unhealthy level because they can’t get it internally. 

They rely on others to feel good. The problem is relying on others like this “allows them to dictate our worth” explains psychotherapist Sharon Martin LCSW.

Seeking validation from others like this is typical behavior of women who have a hard time with self-love.

The key is to start building your self-esteem and soon you’ll rely less on others to feel good. Before long you’ll be tapping into self-love and thriving with newfound confidence.  

5) They engage in negative self-talk

According to research by the National Science Foundation, the average person has 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day, and get this: 80% of them are negative. 

It’s no wonder so many people engage in negative self-talk without even realizing it. 

Psychology writer Elizabeth Scott explains: “Negative self-talk refers to your inner voice making critical, negative, or punishing comments. These are the pessimistic, mean-spirited, or unfairly critical thoughts that go through your head when you are making judgments about yourself.”

How you talk to yourself really matters. Unfortunately, it’s common for women who struggle with self-love to engage in negative self-talk. 

They’re constantly telling themselves that they’re not good enough, they can’t do anything right and they’re not cut out for success. And the worst part of all is they don’t even realize they’re doing it. 

Does this sound familiar to you? 

If so, you can turn things around: the first step to overcoming negative self-talk is to recognize it’s happening and figure out where it’s coming from. Once you start, self-love gets easier.

6) They put the needs of others ahead of their needs 

You know how they always tell you to put your own mask on first in airplane safety videos? Well, there’s a reason for that. If you don’t look after yourself first, you won’t be able to help anyone else. 

It’s not just relevant to emergencies on planes, it’s true in everyday life too. 

Women who struggle with self-love often neglect their own basic needs in favor of helping others. It’s like their needs are always the last thing to get their attention and other priorities just keep piling on top of them.

Hitting a yoga class, journaling your thoughts, or simply catching some extra Z’s isn’t just for kicks; it’s crucial if you want to be a great friend, daughter, sister, and mother. You’ve got to fill your own cup before you can pour into others, you know?

Self-care is all about making sure you look after yourself in all areas of your life; physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. It’s more than a nice to have, it’s essential. It’s been linked with:

  • Stress and anxiety reduction
  • Improved happiness
  • Stronger relationships

If you never take a minute to look after your needs, it’s a red flag you have a hard time with self-love. Maybe it’s time to turn that around by starting your self-care and self-love journey today, after all the two go hand-in-hand. 

Final thoughts

If you struggle with self-love or you know someone who does, don’t worry. It doesn’t click for some people right away but that doesn’t mean it never will, it just means you’ve got to work at it. 

And here’s the kicker: the more you struggle with self-love, the more you need it so if you recognize a lot of these signs in yourself, it’s time to get to work.

Or maybe you’re a self-love queen but one of your friends needs some help. The best thing you can do is continuously support her and encourage her to prioritize herself every chance she gets. 

Cat Harper

Cat is an experienced Sales and Enablement professional turned writer whose passions span from psychology and relationships to continuous self-improvement, lifelong learning and pushing back on societal expectations to forge a life she loves. An avid traveler and adventure sports enthusiast, in her downtime you'll find Cat snowboarding, motorcycling or working on her latest self-development project.

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