Putting someone else’s needs before your own has been called a number of things throughout the ages.
Nowadays people say things like “she was so in love with him, she lost herself” or “he gave up everything for her.” Of course real love isn’t a fairy tale where things magically fall into place. It’s something that requires work. You have to make sacrifices, compromise, think about your partner’s needs. But for many it’s difficult to see that line between caring for someone and taking care of someone in an unhealthy way. How do we end up so warped to the point that our partner’s needs become paramount to our own?
Maybe you’ve been in a relationship with someone going through graduate school, or who has a family member with failing health. Of course if you love them you’ll be happy to put your needs aside for a while. Most of us have been there. But we’re not talking about temporary situations that eventually will return to equilibrium. We’re talking about the dynamics of a relationship where every day you feel you must sacrifice your own needs, so much that you forget they’re even your needs. They become unimportant, less pressing than they once were, almost selfish. This is not the same as selfless love. It’s certainly not how to “not give a fuck.” It’s a stressful tightrope walk that’s eventually going to lead to disappointment. But as lovely as love is, how can you stay focused on your own happiness and keep your balance?
Adam and Eve blogger Penelope Pardee raises some valuable questions to ponder before making things exclusive in the first place. We know, it’s tempting to rush into monogamy when you find someone amazing. However in her blog post, “Making the Jump to Exclusive Dating,” Pardee suggests considering if you truly want this person, or if you just want a partner in general. Are you in love, or are you in love with the idea of being in love? This qualification can often prevent you from acting purely on feelings rather than reality. Obviously getting butterflies and mushy feelings when you’re with someone is a good sign, but not if you get so carried away you ignore their faults that may be deal breakers for you. Give yourself time to find out who they are, and you’ll set yourself up for success from the beginning.
Once you’re committed continue to be aware that you are enough and you are awesome! Personal Development Cafe reminds us that you don’t need someone else to complete you. “What we must realize is that relationships are comprised of two “complete” individuals choosing to be together.” says licensed marriage and family therapist Denise M. Coyle in the article “How to Not Lose Yourself In a Relationship.” So see to it that you are not relying on your partner to complete you. If you want to do something and they have other plans, stick to what you want. Keep your regular routine, continue to see your friends and keep your commitments. This is definitely easier said than done, but is worth it for both parties in the long run. If you find yourself constantly waiting around for them, it’s a sign you should get your butt moving doing what you enjoy.
Not giving a fuck is all about letting go of expectations and having fun. It’s a simple concept we often forget, especially in love because our society tends to use our relationship status as a measure of our self worth. This myth is debunked in The Help Guide‘s article, “How to Find Lasting Love.” According to the article, this idea translates to “it’s better to have a bad relationship than no relationship.” If you’re experiencing these thoughts or using this explanation to defend yourself to worried friends, you have entered scary territory. Here’s the hard truth of it—sometimes being true to yourself means it’s not working. It’s okay to accept that and let that person go. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, because every relationship has a lesson to offer. Maybe it’s time for you to learn your own value, which is limitless.