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

Oscar De La Renta

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

Oscar De La Renta, the late famous clothing designer, was interviewed a couple of years ago  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,

“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 lovable 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.

If you’d like to know more about yourself, sign up for my complimentary emails on You!

First, you will immediately receive my 40 page book on Self-Knowledge, free!

It’s based on a chapter of my book Who Are You And What Are You Doing Here? The way to know yourself and get what you want.


If you don’t ask and answer these four questions of yourself at some point–lots of luck in life.

It doesn’t directly address the love question we are discussing here but it is related and will give you food for thought.

It’ll get you started on the road to Self-Knowledge and if you don’t love yourself  now, you’ll learn about yourself, get to know yourself.

You’ll discover how great you are! And then– and then– you will love yourself!

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

Keep you out of trouble.

Oh, go get it!

It’s free, for heaven’s sake.

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  1. As great as humanity is, you got to love yourself before anyone else. Perhaps the very closest such as your kids take president over yourself but that ultimately you got to love yourself before others.

    • Frank Daley says

      Eric, you’re right…you must love yourself first–even before your kids–although they come a close second!

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