Nurturing the Self in Your Relationship
By Katy Ray
One of the most beautiful ideas about a relationship is the idea of becoming one with your partner, of molding your lives together and exchanging the I for the we. And who doesn’t want the we? When the we is strong, life seems less complicated, less scary. As strange as it sounds, there might actually be a little bit more security in giving up your responsibility to your own identity for the sake of joining an identity with someone else. And this is often where we lose ourselves and, if not careful, fall into toxic relationship patterns that can leave us destitute and devastated in the event the relationship ends or needs to be reconsidered.
Are you nurturing the self as you embark on a journey with another toward a healthy, happy relationship? Or have you redefined yourself for the sake of the other person?
Sometimes, it’s appropriate to renegotiate behaviors, patterns, and boundaries you have with yourself and your partner, especially if they are harming you or the relationship. Are you too selfish, only going out to concerns that represent the musical interests of your choice, or attending events that only further your agenda or your career? If so, it may be appropriate to renegotiate your social contract to include events and activities that speak to your partner’s interests.
If you have characteristics about yourself that hurt your partner, it’s important to be able to reflect on those things and in that reflection, change them when appropriate. Do you like to drink or partake in other avenues of alleviating stress that put yourself or your partner in harm? Then it’s time to do some self-reflection and find healthier boundaries with alcohol or healthier ways to let go of that stress. When you center yourself, and focus on what is healthiest for you, you will undoubtedly see an improvement in your relationship, not only with your partner, but with family and friends as well.
And while a healthy relationship should always be the goal, that doesn’t mean that you have to give up the very core essence of who you are for the sake of someone else.
For example, if your partner has a problem with your friends, it’s important to understand why. Does your partner have trust issues? Do you have unhealthy boundaries with your friends, where almost no space exists for your partner to meet your needs? Do you spend too much time with your friends at the neglect of your partner or do you spend what you believe is an appropriate amount of time with your friends? While you don’t have to cut out your friends, you do have to put space between toxic friendships or family members who hurt you or your partner. And on the flip side, as with many new relationships, sometimes we neglect to nurture our friendships at the expense of our new relationship. Is your new partner constantly criticizing your friendship with your bestie? Is your partner jealous of the closeness that you share with another human? Finding the balance between renegotiating the boundaries you’ve had with friends and establishing new boundaries with your newfound relationship is where you may find the healthiest outcome.
While you’re readjusting your life to develop the we, you must remember not to give up on yourself in your relationship. You must continue to explore self-care, holding onto the hobbies that give you joy, and invest in yourself through therapy, social networks, family, and other mediums for support. It is very important to continue nurturing the self with in the context of a relationship. Why? Because no matter what, we must learn to love ourselves and hold fast to who we are. When we love ourselves, the failed relationships or failed friendships don’t hurt as much. They don’t shake the core of our humanity. They don’t break us.
Making connections to your queer community can help you nurture the self and ensure you’re developing the I as much as the we. At LGBTQutie, we have blogs, queer events, and an entire network of like minded queer individuals waiting to contribute to your network as you continue to develop your hobbies and interests. Connecting with queer affinity groups, attending an LGBTQ event highlighted in our app, or making a new connection with a friend can provide positive support as you navigate the nuances of relationship building and self-care.
The good news is that—whether you’re in a relationship with someone else or not—it’s never too late to begin the journey toward a healthier, happier you. Fall back in love with yourself first, and you’ll see healthier thought patterns and relationship patterns emerge in no time.