Everything you need to know about relationships you can learn from watching Dexter and Scrubs. Okay, that’s probably not true. But I really dig both shows, and I like what I’ve gleaned from both character’s approaches to life.

Dexter, the sociopath who lives a life of lies, is amazingly good at self care. JD, the incredibly sensitive open book, is self destructive bordering on masochistic. And while it’s a not likely the popular judgment, and I’m finding my own eyebrows raise as I write this, Dexter is actually the better friend of the two. The serial killer who refers to himself as a monster. And not the Lady Gaga kind.

A lot of us struggle with being friends to ourselves. As Ian and I discussed, it’s easy to be unfairly hard on ourselves, and treat us in ways we’d never treat other people. We judge ourselves too harshly, rarely give ourselves a break, and expect too much too often for too long. Not all of us, of course, but those of use who struggle with being our own friends.

Being your own friend means treating yourself with respect. It means going out of your way to do nice things for yourself, to care for yourself when you’re ill or down, and to love yourself unconditionally, even when you screw up. Being your own friend means seeing the good in your actions, instead of focusing on the bad. It means that you’re always there for you, through thick and thin, when things are great, and when things are not so great. Being your own friend means treating yourself like a human being, the same as (or better) as you treat other human beings.

We often try to find people to complete us, both in friendships and romantic relationships. We want people who will make us better, on whom we can rely, who will make us happy, make our lives good.

But you need to be that for yourself. You need to be complete. You need to make yourself be better, and rely on yourself to make yourself happy. You’re the only one who can make your life good. Trying to fork that responsibility over onto someone else will never end well. In a good case scenario, you’ll end up with a codependent relationship (the kind many of us are currently in, in a variety of different capacities). And in a worst case scenario you’ll never find someone to fill that vacancy, and live a vacant, unhappy life.

There’s this old proverb that says, “Sweep before your own door first.” It’s perfect for what I’m trying to say here. If you don’t have a clean door step, you’re just going to track your dirt whoever you go, into other people’s houses, and others are going to track it into yours. Sweeping before your own door means caring for yourself, finding ways to love and support yourself, and, ultimately, being your own friend first.

It’s great to want to be a good friend to other people. The best way you can do that is by being a good friend to you.