by Jasmine Mauss, MS, LGMFT
January 15, 2020
Love can be (and often is) ultra-consuming. When we discover love, we often find ourselves immersing our time, happiness, emotions, spaces, and future into those of another. “Me” becomes “we”, as the equilibrium of our lives shifts for this new person and new relationship. As time progresses, a new foundation is created and an intricate series of changes occur. Our identities transform to accommodate the growth of our partner, shared rituals and pastimes are enjoyed together, and the future we create is influenced substantially by their presence in our lives. Too often in the midst of this beautiful creation, it becomes easy to lose important parts of ourselves. When we are in a deep-seated relationship, it becomes increasingly challenging to remember who we were, before this relationship, and who we are now, outside of it. If you are in a relationship, take a moment to reflect on the question, “Who am I, irrespective of my relationship?”
1. Identify what is important to you: What brings you authentic joy and happiness? What are the activities that make you, YOU? This could constitute a number of things: reading a book in your favorite armchair, meditating in the mornings before work, playing soccer with the boys on the weekend, painting when you feel inspired, hiking your favorite trail, traveling with your favorite friends, etc. Capitalize on your individual passions early on in your relationship and maintain consistency of them throughout its progression. These are parts of yourself that you can claim as your own and fall back on in times of need. You can also also share these parts of yourself with your partner as a way to connect and show them more of who you really are.
2. Revel in healthy “me time”: While it may seem counterintuitive to think that being away from your partner would be conducive towards connection, taking this time for yourself can actually be beneficial to the relationship. Taking some space away from your partner to center yourself in your passions, career, and family is not a selfish act! These micro-doses of distance can actually cultivate fondness and admiration for your partner, while simultaneously assisting you in tapping back into your inner self. Allow yourself to miss them in these moments and reflect on why you appreciate them. More importantly, take a moment to identify your individual strengths and foster your sense of agency outside of your relationship.
3. Put the “U” in “F(U)ture”: Self-love and self-identity should not be limited to just the past and present. Make sure to formulate concrete goals for yourself and your future. Ensure that these goals are somewhat independent of your relationship so that they put the focus on your personal growth as a person. This is a sound way to keep yourself preserved and allows you to flourish and transform as an individual. Always be mindful of your boundaries and what you are and are not willing to compromise for your relationship. Staying true to your unique goals and plans will allow you to stay tuned to the fabric of who you are. Loving ourselves first provides a healthy avenue for loving our partner!