I've been thinking lately about what it means to love yourself. As someone who has been single for the better part of the last five years, I've heard all the old cliches about loving yourself before you can love someone else and how you shouldn't look for validation outside yourself.

But the thing is, I mostly hear this from people who are (more or less happily) partnered and haven't really ever had to wonder with any seriousness whether they would, in fact, die alone. And I have to confess, I don't really know how to"validate myself" - I don't even know what that means, let alone what it would entail in a practical sense. It seems like a really hollow thing to say in some respects. It's not like I just up and decided that all my self-worth comes from what other people think of me. I've just struggled for a long time now to connect romantically with another person and it's kind of fucked with my self-esteem. I also know that connectedness and intimacy and affection and all that good stuff is really important to me, regardless of my self-esteem. On some level, I wonder why it's such a bad thing to want to feel like you are able to form lasting bonds with other people. Is that an unhealthy thing to want? Seriously, I am beginning to feel like I have no idea.

I guess I just have no idea how to validate myself and it feels really awkward and uncomfortable when I try to do things like daily affirmations. And so far, my counselor has not been super great in helping me figure out some strategies. I know I have self-esteem issues, but how do I retain my open-heartedness and desire for love, without it becoming a desire for validation? Don't we all want to feel accepted and loved by others, to a greater or lesser degree? When does it become something unhealthy?