Often we see the world as we see ourselves and in a relationship, this could mean being tough on our partner for mistakes as we struggle with.

What Is Self-Love & Why Is It Important for Couples?

self love, Subuhi Safvi, self care, relationships

In this interview, Baely’s Consulting Editor Mahima Sharma talks to Subuhi Safvi who is a Trauma Recovery Coach. They speak about the concept of self-love and its importance for couples & relationships. Subuhi explains how self-love goes beyond self-care and encompasses acceptance, compassion, and personal growth. She also shares practical tips for practicing self-love while being in a relationship, such as being honest about one's needs and boundaries. They discuss common challenges that partners face when it comes to self-love and how to overcome them. Overall, this conversation offers valuable insights for anyone looking to cultivate a healthy and loving relationship with themselves and their partner. Now, over to the exclusive interaction…

MS: Can you explain the concept of self-love? Is it the same as self-care?

SS: While self-care is the practice of taking care of your needs, self-love is much broader. It includes self-care but also accepting yourself as you are, being kind and compassionate to yourself when you make mistakes, learning to trust yourself, and prioritizing your well-being. 

As a society, we have much to learn about self-love which is probably why there is so much confusion about the concept. And, we tend to distrust anything that we don’t understand initially. Self- love to me, honors the person we are on the inside and is a lifelong journey to growth and personal fulfillment, and development.

It is the acceptance that we create and is responsible for our own happiness, growth, and fulfillment. It is taking responsibility for ourselves - this includes eating well, taking care of our bodies, spending time with loved ones, and doing things we love but also understanding and accepting ourselves, trusting ourselves, and taking care of our needs, emotional, physical and spiritual.

MS: Why is self-love important for couples?


An important aspect of self-love is being open about ourselves and listening to our bodies. This helps create boundaries with honesty and love.  Often we see the world as we see ourselves and in a relationship, this could mean being tough on our partner for mistakes as we struggle with self-acceptance and compassion. 

For example, I feel anxious whenever I’m late for anything, earlier if my partner made us late I’d be in a terrible mood and upset with him because we are late. Accepting that this made me anxious and then being kind to myself helped remove the anxiety. Now it doesn’t bother me if we are a little late, and I have a much better time too.

We fall in love as individuals but as a couple society expects us to forget who we are as individuals and focus only on our roles in terms of our relationship. This can cause resentment, unhappiness, and anger. We were never meant to forget ourselves, we were supposed to be ourselves with another person. 

Our films and books romanticize losing ourselves in our relationships - perhaps this idea was helpful when people were married as children and the survival of settlements depended on conformity, when people’s roles in a family were more important than them as  people. These days we value personal development and that includes going beyond our roles as partners, parents, and children. We cherish our professional growth, learning new hobbies, and developing new aspects of ourselves. This commitment to growth and development is self-love. 

Without this commitment to our own growth, we’d look at our relationship for fulfillment, growth, and validation. This is not ideal for many reasons starting with - your partner’s growth and development might feel threatening because they’re interested in things other than you, their ‘me time’, or going out with friends might cause anger because you’re expecting them to give you more and more.

MS: How can I practice self-love while being in my relationship? 


Whether or not you’ve practiced self-love before, an easy way to start is to ask for what you want and be honest about how you’re feeling. These two take work but they help you, your partner, and your relationship. 

Practicing self-love as a couple can look like cooking that dish that you love even though no one else does (and cooking for one person seems extravagant), taking time to recharge whether this is alone, or with people other than your partner, being honest about what you feel and need and saying yes and no when you want. 

I went to a party with my partner in our early days of dating and I had a terrible headache. I only mentioned it to him when we reached and said we could stay for a while and see how I felt. I assumed he’d ask me soon how I was feeling and if I wanted to return and he assumed I’d tell him when I wanted to leave. I ended up getting upset with him for enjoying himself while I wasn’t well. However, I was also talking and laughing with his friends. 

I felt that saying no at the time would mean he’d be upset with me and I opted to suffer silently. Now I am honest about my feelings, my boundaries, and what I want and need. This honesty was possible only after I learned to be more accepting of myself. And with this honesty, our relationship has blossomed too. 

MS: What challenges do partners usually face with practicing self-love and how can they resolve the same? 


We are born naturally accepting and curious about ourselves, however, as we grow older we learn to fit into boxes to forge connections with the people in our world. As a society we have deemed any thought of ourselves as selfish which is why we feel that taking care of ourselves is bad. 

This is usually a big challenge because most of us learn how to be in a relationship from our families, friends, and films. We learn to become resentful and angry when people focus on their needs over ours and our relationships. In this case, I would always suggest that you look within and ask yourself which part of you needs nurturing and whether you can give that part some love and acceptance. When we are upset about an aspect of a person, whether that is being late or being selfish, it is usually because that is something we haven’t accepted about ourselves. 

Saying no was always difficult for me and I would end up doing things I wasn’t keen on even if I was exhausted, simply because I couldn’t say no. I started resenting my partner because he would say no to things that he did not want to do. When he said no I would also start getting anxious because it felt like he was saying no to me rather than saying no to some activity. I had such a strong sense of self-worth that everything was utterly personal and painful. I was looking at him to make me feel worthy and loved as I couldn’t feel those things myself. 

Starting my self-love practice and healing my trauma was life changing for this reason - I no longer felt threatened by him and his actions and I wanted to spend time with myself and enjoy my own company.

MS: Does self-love mean that I have to compromise parts of my relationship and am I being selfish by focusing on myself? 


Self-love is not compromising parts of your relationship, rather it is uncompromising on your own boundaries. Setting boundaries is important, they help us navigate our world. We each have things we are uncomfortable with and as partners, it is more important to ensure our partner's comfort than to convert them to our way of thinking. 

We want to work to get better as a couple, so it is good for both of us. It is important to communicate with your partner and find a solution together that works for both. 

I like to wake up early and take my dogs for a walk. I like the time I get in the morning to be quiet and reflect on my feelings. My partner prefers to stay up late and usually wakes up a couple of hours after me. 

My mornings are important to me but staying up till late disturbs my quiet time as I’m tired. So rather than stay up late or expect my partner to wake up earlier we ensure we spend time with each other in the evenings. It is also important to create a space to openly share feelings and problems, which is possible because we both feel secure enough with ourselves and as a couple to be able to do so.

MS: Because of practicing self-love my partner sometimes thinks that I am being selfish, what can I do? 

SS: If your partner feels that self-love is not great, that is okay, you can only change your own mind but perhaps the change in your relationship with yourself will help them understand what self-love means. You could also try doing it together.  Try asking your partner to practice self-love or even better try some exercises together. Learning to be open to yourself as individuals as a couple is a wonderful commitment to your relationship. 

As I talked about in the fourth answer, when your partner might feel insecure and uncomfortable if they are unfamiliar with the concept. . Communicating with yourself to understand what your needs are and being able to communicate with your partner is helpful here. When you can express what you hope to get from your practice of self-love, it could remove your partner’s objections and doubts.

Some self-love practices you can start with -

  • List 3 things you like about yourself, and ask your partner to list three things they like about themselves
  • 3 things that bring you joy, and 3 things you enjoy together as a couple
  • 3 ways your partner and relationship have helped you grow.
  • 3 ways you can be kinder to yourself (eg - stop saying mean things to myself when I make mistakes)
  • 3 ways you can accept kindness from others (including partner) (eg - accepting compliments, offers of help)

So often we focus only on how we see our “weaknesses” and this exercise changes the story, it is also a great way to learn more about each other. There are several challenges and exercises to start practicing self-love that works quite well.

MS:Can you provide some real-life examples of how self-love has benefitted a couple? 

SS: My work with clients is confidential but I am happy to provide you with examples of how it has benefited my life and us as a couple. Validation - Like most people in the world today I have deep body image issues. For the longest time, I would expect my partner to notice small and subtle changes in my appearance - haircuts, new clothes, weight loss, or gain. The truth is though that these changes are big to me but not noticeable to him. Until I learned to be comfortable in my skin, with acceptance and love, I had a difficult time because my first thought was always that I looked horrible and he is too polite to tell me that. A lot of my problems came from the need for validation as I could not accept things were good without constant reassurance and approval. Sadly, this got me into situations that were less than ideal as I was listening to what my partner and others wanted rather than what I wanted. Learning to listen to myself and take decisions and actions based on that was enormously helpful. We all want to be loved for who we are, but most of us are not aware of who we really are. We change to please our partners, to suit their needs and the needs of the relationship. We put everyone else ahead of ourselves and then feel unheard, unseen, and unloved. But how can we be loved for ourselves when we never show anyone, including ourselves, who that person is? Simply put, self-love gives us a safe space to be our authentic selves. 

About Subuhi Safvi

Subuhi Safvi is a Trauma Recovery Coach, and works with survivors of abuse to find balance and reclaim their life. Subuhi is a survivor and uses techniques and tools that helped her with her clients. A big part of that is learning how to be in a healthy relationship and a good partner.

She is a dog mom and vegan and is learning how to live with love and safety with her wonderful partner. 


The opinions expressed within this interview are the personal opinions of the protagonist/protagonists. The facts & statistics, the work profile details of the protagonist/ protagonists do not reflect the views of Baely or the Journalist. Neither Baely nor the Journalist hold any responsibility or liability for the same.

About the Interviewer
About the Author
Mahima Sharma
Mahima Sharma is a Senior Journalist based in Delhi NCR. She has been in the field of TV, Print & Online Journalism since 2005 and previously an additional three years in allied media.
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