To have a happy and healthy relationship with someone else, we need to pay close attention ourselves. Relationships alone cannot make us happy and fulfill us. So if you get into relationships expecting the other person or the relationship itself to make you whole, then it’s going to be much harder to find that relationship satisfying. If you want to have a positive romantic relationship, you have got to love yourself first.
Our happiness needs to primarily come from ourselves. That is how we can build a solid foundation of self-worth, which then supports a good relationship. If we have that base, then who we are as individuals does not come crashing down or go skyrocketing up based on what our partner does or doesn’t do. Loving ourselves first means that we are OK, no matter what. We are enough.
When we first get into a relationship, some of us just want to be with our partner all the time. We might rearrange our schedules, cancel plans, and skip events just so we can have an evening with that new special someone. That is what falling in love can be like. But sometimes we become so much about the other person that we can lose ourselves somewhere along the way.
For those with a healthy sense of self, it is perfectly normal for there to be a brief period where we spend most of our time with our new partner. But we also make time for our friends, and we include our partner into the fold of our lives rather than constantly keeping them at the center.
For some of us who get immersed in relationships, our sense of self and things we enjoyed when we were single fade away, and what is left is a laser focus on making our partner happy. Some might say, “Well, what’s wrong with that? It feels good to make my partner happy.” And they’re right, it does feel good to make others happy. But when that goes into overdrive and you are no longer thinking about you—what you like, what you want to do—and defer to your partner to make all the decisions, that’s when that intense focus on someone else can become an issue.
So how can you both be giving, loving partners and maintain a strong sense of self too?
1. Keep your hobbies
Make sure to keep anything fun that you enjoyed before your relationship in your life. These are usually the first things to go in a new relationship. We quickly attempt to trim the fat in our lives in order to have more time with the one we love. But hobbies make us feel good about ourselves and naturally allow us to carve out time to focus on something we like. Which helps us be better, happier people, and therefore better partners.
2. Schedule in time to see friends and family
Make time to have dinner with them, grab a drink after work, or have friends over to hang out. Continue to cultivate important relationships in your life outside of your relationship with your partner. You can also make time to include your partner in these activities with your friends and family.
3. Take out time for yourself
Take yourself out to a movie, read a book in a café, or go for a walk in a park. Having alone time is an important part of maintaining a healthy sense of self.
Being in a relationship can be fun, exciting, and challenging all at once. Maintaining our individuality in a relationship makes those challenges easier to get through and manage. A happy individual makes up 50 percent of the happy couple. The relationship is important, but so are you. Both take effort and constant attention. That’s how both healthy individuals and partnered relationships can continue to grow.