Everyone has heard that you have to love yourself before someone else can love you. The reason for this is simple - our ideal partner is a reflection of us.
We attract people that are like us. Not just in terms of romantic, sexual/physical attraction. We attract them metaphysically - these people tend to turn up in our lives.
Each of us has a unique belief system, a way of seeing the world that is slightly different to everyone else's. It's almost like our ego has a fingerprint. What turns us on, what turns us off. What we feel is important.
Our political preferences, tastes in food and music, and so on, all arise out of this belief system. Our particular thoughts and feelings resonate with different aspects of the world around us. If your thoughts are dark, you like heavy metal. If your thoughts are happy, you like cheesey music. We like certain foods, like for example, coffee, because of the way they make us feel.
The types of people that come into our lives are affected by our beliefs. We meet people who have made the same sorts of choices we make. Where to live, which bar to go to, which supermarket to shop at. All these choices reflect our values and our way of being from day to day, minute to minute.
When you enter a seminar or lecture theatre, where do you sit? On the front row where you can ask questions or the back where you can fall asleep without being noticed? Our personality is reflected in the places we turn up... and so we end up being surrounded by people who are the same way.
Romantic compatibility has a lot to do with this. Why do we always ask our love interest what sort of music they like? We want to know they are on our wavelength. We want to know they are drawn to the same emotional experience, so we can trust that they will understand us.
It seems like this is easily faked. All you have to do is listen to someone talk passionately and agree with them. Find something from your own experience that is similar emotionally and share it. But this can be hard work. It's much easier if your passions really are similar emotionally. That way, things just happen.
The problem comes when you are romantically attracted to people who are not on your wavelength. This means, people who are not right for you, but who have something that you respect, or admire, or just desire. You want to be with the other person to feel good about yourself, to fill some hole inside you or to change what other people think about you. These relationships are doomed to failure from the start, because of the amount of energy it takes to maintain them.
Do you like yourself? Would you be attracted to someone who was the opposite sex version of you? Are the people you are attracted to your mirror in terms of life philosophy, success, social hierarchy?
The right person for you has similar political and religious views. Their life philosophy, work ethic, wit matches yours perfectly. There are certain adjustments to make across the genders, for example power in men roughly equates to looks in women. But the stress in the relationship is directly proportional to your differences. A certain amount of stress is healthy and keeps things interesting, but only up to a certain breaking point.
When you think of the men or women who naturally come into your life, the ones who have the same interests and world view as you, are you attracted to them? The girls or guys who you know you could get, and just be with, just by turning round and saying you wanted them, are they the sort of person you want? Are they the sort of person you want to be? If you're honest with yourself, you'll probably realise that the things you don't like about them are the things you don't like about yourself. So you reject that person and look for the qualities you want to see in yourself, in someone else.
If you like yourself, you will like the people you naturally meet, and they will like you. If you don't like yourself, you will waste energy trying to get with people who aren't like you, or you will settle for being with someone you don't like.
There are two solutions to this. The first, and most important, is to learn to like yourself. The second, is to turn yourself into the person that you want to be.If you want to like yourself, one way to do it is to realise that you are the perfect You that anyone could be. No-one else can do the things you do quite like you. No-one sees the world quite the same way. No-one has precisely your talents, ambitions, or lack thereof. No-one screws things up the same way, no-one makes the same mistakes and faux pas'. At being you, for all your faults and weaknesses, you would get an A+. It's ok to be the way you are - it must be, because the way you are IS the way you are.
Once you adopt this philosophy or one like it with regard to yourself, you will start seeing others the same way. The truth is, you probably are attracted to the opposite sex equivalent of you, it's just you're also turned off to them, for the same reasons you're turned off from yourself. Accept yourself, and you will accept them.
Many people think that their drive to improve themselves stems from the things they don't like about themselves. Feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction, or just dislike and hatred for yourself actually won't change, no matter how much you improve yourself. It is the feeling that needs to be dealt with, not whichever reason you rationalise at the time for feeling it.
It's actually easier to change and improve yourself once you accept yourself. The same negative feelings of self-non-acceptance lock us in to being those things that we want to change. Change the feeling first, and the specific details will sort themselves out.
Look at the sort of person you want to get together with. You can become the sort of person who they would want to be with, assuming that you're not already. If the person they want to be with, is the sort of person that you don't like, then you'll have to let go of those feelings, because those feelings keep you from being like them.
Take the school computer nerd, who wants to get with the cheerleader. But the cheerleader likes the football players. She's physically active, she parties a lot, and is confident in herself. So she looks for guys who are physically active, party a lot, and are confident in themselves. It makes no sense that she would want to be with a guy who locks himself in his bedroom, is anti-social, and can't look her in the eye when he speaks.
So to get the girl, the nerd must become the football player. He can still play to his strengths with computers, and he needn't play football. But he needs to adopt their way of being in terms of inward qualities. If he is truly attracted to the cheerleader, then he wants those qualities for himself anyway, and he dislikes the contradicting qualities he already possesses.
The nerd that truly doesn't want to become the football player doesn't truly want the cheerleader. He wants the bookish girl who is already on his wavelength. Either way, the solution is rooted in self-acceptance. If he accepts himself, he will accept the bookish girl. If once he accepts himself, he finds that he wants to become a footballer, he can have the cheerleader too.
Once you accept yourself you will realise your true motives for wanting someone you can't have. If you want to be with them to compensate for your own shortcomings, you will no longer want them. If you want them because you want to be like their ideal partner, then you will become that person. So there is never a need to change yourself for someone else.
Accept yourself, and you will like the potential partners you can get.
Improve yourself, and you will get the partner you want.