What does self-love have to do with a romantic love relationship, you ask? Surely when we find our significant other, the “I” becomes “we”?
Many women make this mistake, thinking that we are being loving partners by giving up parts of ourselves and merging with our partners in all areas of our lives when we find “The One”!
Because of outdated beliefs we have about love, we abandon who we are at the first sign of a love interest. We make many sacrifices in order to establish and maintain a romantic relationship.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you need to become selfish. Self-love isn’t selfish and every relationship needs care and nurturing. But a healthy balance is important.
So why is building self-love crucial in a romantic relationship?
You shouldn’t be depending on anyone to make you feel whole or complete. Yes, not even on your significant other!
When we don’t know our own self-worth and value, what we end up doing is seeking the validation of our partner constantly and we make it our life’s purpose to keep him happy.
If this is a pattern you recognize in your relationship, you may not think it’s a big deal. “He’s my partner, my job is to make him happy, right?”. Actually, not quite. Your happiness is your responsibility and his happiness is his responsibility.
Failing to practise self-love can turn a potential healthy relationship into a toxic one.
So what can you do to stay grounded in self-love, while still maintaining a connection with your partner?
Make the primary relationship the one you have with YOU!
“The better you know yourself, the better your relationship with the rest of the world.” -Toni Collette
This may sound odd, but it’s beautiful in practice. Having a relationship with yourself is the first ingredient to self-love. And believe it or not, it’s a game changer.
Having a relationship with yourself means getting to know who you are. Learning about your strengths and weaknesses. Figuring out what makes you happy and what doesn’t.
When you know these things, it makes it easier for you to set boundaries in your relationship and to communicate your needs effectively.
Self-love also means looking after yourself by practising self-care. Keep doing the work on yourself even when you have found romantic love. Here are a few things to do, if you aren’t already doing it:
- Nurture your mind by reading beneficial books.
- Keep a journal
- Exercise regularly and eat a healthy balanced diet
- Do some daily affirmations
Having a relationship with yourself means minding your self-talk. What kind of language do you use towards yourself? Are you kind or mean? Supportive or discouraging? Harsh or gentle?
Would you talk to someone you love, the way you talk to yourself?
Think about how you treat the people you love. Now start to treat yourself the same way.
Independence is important in every relationship. There must also be a healthy dose of dependency. But to have a truly healthy balanced relationship is when you can live interdependently with each other.
Interdependence involves a balance of self and others within the relationship, recognizing that both partners are working to be present and meet each other’s physical and emotional needs in appropriate and meaningful ways.
When our needs are not met we become resentful of the other party. In this space we can start displaying unhealthy relationship traits which may ultimately lead to the breakdown of a relationship.
Being interdependent means having goals for yourself and your life that aren’t tied with your partner’s. When you’re in a relationship, it’s common to make plans together. There’s nothing wrong with that, but make sure that you have some personal objectives too.
Make sure that you maintain friendships and connections with family and friends who you value. We easily slip into a habit of putting off old friends and family and prioritising our significant other above all other relationships.
Whilst our partners are hugely important in our lives, there are many other relationships that are as important which we must not neglect.
Understand the purpose of your relationship
One of the most important ways of staying grounded in self, while maintaining a relationship, is understanding what the purpose of the relationship is.
We have many misconceptions about relationships. Societal conditioning influences how we view our roles in making the relationship work. Unlearning some of these beliefs will help you understand the purpose of your relationship.
A relationship is a partnership. It isn’t one person saving the other or vice-versa. It isn’t two broken people coming together to fix each other.
It’s two people supporting and empowering each other lovingly. Understand that you are your own person, the same way your partner is his own person.
This is how you stay grounded in self-love. You avoid becoming codependent by understanding your role and responsibilities in your relationship.
Know your worth and value
Building self-esteem and self-confidence is a key part of increasing self-love. To love yourself means to know your worth and value.
This is important because when you know what you’re worth, you won’t accept anything less than what you deserve.
This helps you set clear boundaries in your relationship.
Here are a few ways to start nurturing your sense of self daily:
- Affirm you worth and value daily with positive affirmations.
- Accept compliments gracefully. When someone pays you a compliment don’t try to play it down but rather accept it in a graceful manner. Especially if it’s coming from your significant other.
- Abandon the limiting beliefs you have about yourself. Particularly those beliefs you’ve adopted because of what people say about you.
- Surround yourself with good company. When you’re with your friends, do you feel good about yourself? If the answer is no, this company isn’t right for you.
- Silence the negative voice in your mind that convinces you that you aren’t enough. And start seeing yourself the way good people in your life see you.
Remember, increasing self-love isn’t selfish. It’s the one ingredient you need to improve your relationship with yourself, which in turn will help you build a stronger connection with your partner.
If you’re looking for more in-depth advice and one on one coaching on how you can build self-love and create healthier ways of relating, check out the services I offer here http://lifecoachingwithnarriman.co.za/love-and-relationships/
A healthy, beautiful and loving relationship is golden. It is within your power to create and maintain one. As it is with everything else, it starts with you and it calls on you to get grounded in self-love while opening your heart to give and receive love from others.