A romantic relationship is full of give and take. If you want things to work out, you can’t think of only you. After all, part of personal growth is learning to be a bit selfless. The problem is that we often take these sentiments too far. Then, we end up sacrificing our own needs and our own happiness. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to focus on yourself in a relationship.
But how do you find a healthy relationship balance? Here are some ways to prioritize yourself without being self-centered or toxic.
Why is it important to learn how to focus on yourself in a relationship? At first, you may not see the need at all. When you’re in a new relationship, it’s all about spending time together. You feel as if all you need is your new partner. That’s amazing while it lasts, but it just isn’t sustainable. If you don’t get back to you, all of this can take a negative turn into self-sacrifice. There’s just no way to enjoy life with two half-fulfilled people.
You need to learn how to focus on yourself in a relationship. Otherwise, you will become resentful. Also, without healthy boundaries, your romantic partner may come to expect that your life will always center around your partnership. They may even emulate you and begin losing touch with who they are as well. Then, you have two half-fulfilled people coming together into a codependent and unhealthy relationship. If you want to bring your best self to a relationship, you need to spend time dedicated to self-love. You do that by finding ways to focus on yourself.
Related reading: How To Maintain Your Individuality While In a Relationship
Self-love isn’t a noun. It’s a verb! You have to actively engage in things that feed positive energy into your soul. It’s imperative to your emotional well-being. When you do this, you become a better partner in your committed relationship. Check out these ways to focus on yourself so you don’t lose sight of your own identity.
It’s true! One of the best ways to learn how to focus on yourself in a relationship is to strengthen old friendships and find new ones. Time spent with great pals will have such a positive impact on your self-worth. You truly can’t live a complete life without them. So, reach out to your old friends and arrange a weekly get-together. Don’t forget to seize opportunities for making new friends as well. Then, encourage your partner to do the same! You’ll both be fulfilled and happy.
“I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.”
Charles R. Swindoll, evangelical Christian pastor and educator
Even the strong extrovert needs time alone to recharge. If you want to give your partner the best version of yourself, you can’t spend all your time attached at the hip. You must spend enough time alone to rest and regain your emotional energy.
Make this a priority! Don’t simply grab moments of alone time when the opportunity arises. This is something you must be intentional about. Think of spending time alone as one of your basic needs. You won’t be a good partner, friend, or family member unless you spend time alone.
Related reading: Quality Time – It’s a Love Language
Your partner may struggle with the idea that you are prioritizing self-love. They may complain directly or be a bit more subtle about their feelings. When they do, it’s easy to blame them when you feel guilty about enjoying your own company. In truth, the fault is yours.
When you allow their feelings to prevent you from focusing on yourself, you cheat them out of the opportunity to experience personal growth. They have to learn to experience and manage their emotions. You have to allow them to do that. Your partner can learn to let go of unrealistic expectations, you can enjoy better mental health, and both of you will have a better relationship.
Exercise can improve physical health and self-confidence. It’s an important part of your overall self-development. Working out can also boost your mood and strengthen your immune system. Spend some time each day doing some light exercise you enjoy. You’ll feel good physically and mentally.
“I think if you exercise, your state of mind – my state of mind – is usually more at ease, ready for more mental challenges. Once I get the physical stuff out of the way it always seems like I have more calmness and better self-esteem.”
Stone Gossard, an American musician
People who are close to their family tend to have the most healthy relationships overall. Remember how much personal joy you get out of spending quality time with your family? Don’t lose that simply because of your current relationship status.
If family is important to you, it is also important to your mental health. Make time with your people, especially if you have been neglecting those connections for a while.
Learning to make yourself a priority is an ongoing process. There’s also more to this than simply engaging in new hobbies or hanging out with your pals. Creating a nurturing, inspirational place for yourself is a key part of this.
Self-love is about creating a full, rich life for yourself rather than focusing your energies on another person.
When did you last spend money on new decorations for your apartment? What about cleaning and reorganizing things? Give your space a refresher. You deserve to live and sleep in a space that truly works for you. Yes, making this happen takes time, money, and effort. But you will be grateful you decided this was worthwhile in the future.
Sunlight and fresh air are necessary for good health. Also, spending time outdoors can help you on your journey to self-discovery. If you love nature, here is your opportunity to explore ways to get outside and be as active as possible. And, if you don’t particularly enjoy the outdoors, remember that it is still good for you. Even 20 or 30 minutes outside sitting on a park bench or your front porch can be enough time to experience some essential benefits.
Related reading: 36 Moving On Quotes to Help You Move Forward
Have you given up your self-care practices? It’s time to start focusing on taking better care of yourself. Each person deserves enough time each day to engage in beauty rituals and other self-care activities. Even better, treat yourself every so often. Get that massage, go to a yoga class, or learn to meditate at home. You will feel grateful that you decided to make yourself a priority.
Often, a new relationship means you lose focus on your life goals. Reclaim your time, and remember what you want to achieve in your career. Then, invest in yourself. Take a class and learn new skills that will show your boss that you are the right person for the next big opportunity.
Your partner should understand that they can’t be your only source of happiness. You need to do things to work towards a better future. Ultimately, that will benefit both of you.
How do you uncover your authentic self? You become a lifelong learner! The more educated you become, the more you reveal about yourself. You accumulate knowledge to bolster the experiences you have and become truly wiser.
To be clear, this isn’t the learning you can monetize. Instead, this is the learning you are passionate about, giving you more depth as a person. Learning for the pure sake of learning is another powerful example of self-love. You are the only person who can make this a priority for you.
“You are worth the time it takes to learn a new skill”
Mercury Stardust, a Professional Home Maintenance Technician and activist
Eventually, self-sacrifice gets to you. You may feel as if your life revolves around your relationship. You may even feel resentful, making it difficult to be a loving partner.
The next time things are stressful for you, take 15 minutes for a break. Watch some videos on your phone, message a friend, or just close your eyes and relax and do these things without guilt. The demands of your relationship can wait.
If you don’t think you have that time to take, carefully weigh the impact your frustration will eventually have on your relationship status.
Sometimes you neglect your friends and are more irritable than you should be. You wonder if all you are doing is screwing up your relationships.
You’re not alone. Everybody worries about whether they positively impact the people they care about. Give yourself a break. The most outstanding love is compassionate and forgiving. It doesn’t expect perfection from you. Any relationships worth keeping are with people who love and support you even when you are imperfect. Shouldn’t you offer yourself at least that much compassion?
Related reading: Fixing a Relationship You’ve Ruined: Here Is How
Talk to your partner. Tell them that you need to spend more time focusing on yourself. Encourage them to do the same. They should want you to take good care of yourself. Chances are, both of you will realize that your future happiness you support one another’s independence.
Yes, you may experience some resistance. That’s okay. Most people will accept the boundaries you set. You have to firmly establish that you will spend as much time as you need for your mental and spiritual health, no matter how much they complain.
It’s time to make your bucket list! No, you don’t have to be dying to do this. All you need is to have things that matter to you that you would like to pursue. There are no right or wrong choices here. Would you like to travel? What about saving enough money for a down payment on a house? Do you have fitness goals? Anything that brings you true happiness belongs on your bucket list.
Now for the important part. Your goals don’t belong in your head. Write them down. Read through them every day. Share them with your own friends for a sense of accountability.
Related reading: Boundaries in Relationships – Keeping Them Healthy
What do you love to do? You should be spending some time every week enjoying your own activities. If you’re in a rut, get out by picking up a new hobby. You have so many options. It’s easy to get started with any one of these relatively cheap and simple interests:
Take a look at your local library’s website, parks and rec department newsletter, and other community resources. You may be able to find people with whom you have common interests. You’ll be able to engage in something you love and build new relationships to round out your life.
If you don’t keep a journal, consider starting. People who do this tend to experience greater happiness overall. Write about your feelings, daily experiences, goals, or anything else that’s on your mind.
Your journal is a particularly useful tool when you are frustrated or upset. You can sort out your emotions in writing before you talk to your partner about your needs.
Has your relationship left you without much time to focus on your spiritual health? Whether you call it your spirituality, faith, or something else don’t be afraid to let your partner know that this is an important part of your identity. They don’t have to share your beliefs but should be supportive and understand what it means to your overall happiness.
You aren’t in a healthy relationship if you can’t say no when your partner wants your time and attention. If you struggle to be assertive in this way, you need to work on that. If your partner struggles to graciously accept your refusal when you prefer to spend time doing other things, they need to work on that.
Don’t expect your partner to be perfect. You may be at the relationship stage where it’s healthy to start doing your own thing. They may still be at the hearts, flowers, and romance stage where the idea of spending even a moment apart sounds terrible. The important thing is that they listen and respect your boundaries.
What if they continue with guilt trips, manipulation, or other escalation? Eventually, you have to decide if this relationship is worthwhile. Your partner is already showing you that they don’t prioritize your needs or respect your boundaries.
If you are in the right relationship, your partner will come around to your way of thinking. Even if they prefer to be together as much as possible, they will understand that you will be a better lover and romantic partner if you have a life of your own and other relationships too.
Here are a few quick FAQs about maintaining your independence in a relationship.
There is no right or wrong amount of time. Some couples really thrive on near-total independence. Others tend to do better when they nest together. You just have to communicate.
Absolutely! Your relationship will become stronger if you do that. That’s a separate matter, however. You still need a fulfilling life outside of that.
That depends. If you are unable to get your partner to understand that your relationship with them isn’t the only important thing to you, that might become a dealbreaker. What are you willing to accept? Ideally, if they value your relationship, they will give you space.