How To Prioritize Self-Love While You’re In A Relationship
Making time for yourself is important in any relationship. Without the ability to focus on yourself, it’s easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of codependency and lose your sense of identity. Ultimately, your relationship with your own head and heart are the most crucial ones to nurture, and these will affect all other relationships in your life, whether they be romantic, platonic or familial. Healthy boundaries, open communication and prioritizing alone time are key ingredients to a strong relationship.
This can be a tricky balance to strike in the best of times, but the constraints of the global pandemic have put an immense amount of added pressure on romantic relationships. Particularly if you live with your partner, it can be very difficult to protect your alone time when you’re both at home constantly. And even if you don’t live together, with the limited number of activities available and the lowered number of people we’re allowed to see these days, setting aside time for self-love and growth outside of your partnership has even less of a roadmap than it did in the “before times.”
But the added challenge of creating time for yourself in today’s climate of isolation and external strains means that it’s just as, if not more, crucial for both your mental health and the health of your relationship to make it a goal. While every relationship dynamic is different, here are some tips on how to prioritize yourself when you’re in a partnership.
1. Make Open Communication a Priority
The first step in putting yourself first in a relationship is to get on the same page as your significant other. Discussing boundaries and figuring out what works best for both of you to get what you need is an ongoing process, and requires having more than one conversation. Although, having an initial chat about your needs is definitely the first step towards this kind of communication becoming habitual.
Here are some questions for both you and your partner to consider, and discuss:
- What boundaries are important to you and why?
- What does personal time look like to you? How often do you need it?
- Is there anything you need to grow and flourish on your own, outside of the relationship, that you’re not currently getting?
These are just jumping-off points from which to start discussing what loving yourself might look like in (and outside of) your relationship. As time goes on, hopefully taking space for yourself and enforcing boundaries will become more natural for both of you. But your partner can’t read your mind, and vice versa. Assuming this tends to create a dysfunctional dynamic.
2. Invest In Your Passions
While it’s great to share interests with your partner, and can certainly enhance the relationship, having your own hobbies separate from each other is a perfect way to maintain your own independence and identity. When you’re dating someone, it’s easy to fall into spending all of your free time together. But if you feel out of touch with yourself, revisiting a passion or hobby could help remedy that. Plus, it could be a way to involve yourself in a community (even during Covid) — this might be as simple as a virtual book club or language class!
3. Consciously Maintain Other Relationships
Jumping off of the above point, having a community of important people in your life and social circle outside of your relationship is vital for your mental health. It’s easy for friendships to fall by the wayside as you grow older, and it’s especially easy now that seeing our pals is considering a health concern! But your partner should not be your everything, and friendships, family relationships and your community in general help feed your soul and human need for socialization.
4. Literally Schedule Out Alone Time
This might be a bit awkward at first, and will look different for everyone. While taking intentional time to yourself in an ongoing way will eventually become less forced, it might require a calculated approach to begin with. Particularly if you are confined to your apartment with your partner due to the pandemic, giving each other space will have to be planned out. And that’s okay! It’s healthy.
Maybe this means taking turns going on long solo walks, so that one person has the ability to clear their head outdoors, and the other can have the home to themselves for a few precious hours. Or if you don’t live together, this could look like deciding on a predetermined amount of instances you’ll see each other during the week, so that you can also incorporate both personal and social time (even if it’s on Zoom!) into your routine. However this looks for you and your person, hopefully carving out space will not only improve your approach to self-love, but also mean your time spent together is more meaningful.
Ashley is a freelance writer and on-going contributor at TFD based in Toronto. An avid traveler, she recently returned home to Canada after two years living abroad in Vietnam and Japan. She loves to read, try new things in the kitchen, and get outside. You can learn more about her work here and can follow her adventures on Instagram @ashley_corb.