Number one advice I’d give young people searching for love is to first understand themselves.
Every time I reached for an article on relationships, I found myself reading exactly the same thing; “love yourself before you enter a relationship”. Is it really self-love, or rather self-understanding & awareness?
Self-awareness or self-love?
While self-love is important, I am a firm believer that understanding goes a longer way. It brings a sense of purpose, awareness, and understanding your thoughts, feelings and desires. These are foundations to building and maintaining strong and lasting relationships, whether it’s with a partner, or friends. To know yourself means to be able to spend time alone and listen to your thoughts, understand them, and understand the way you react to different situations. Once you know that it’s so much easier to foresee how you’ll react in a fight or a disagreement and discover ways to overcome that. Good tips huh?
Self-love consists of this idea that you’re perfect the way you are and as much as I agree with that and think it’s important to appreciate all our phases – there’s always room for growth and improvement. Thinking you’re “a victim” comes along with “it’s okay to stay in the same place”, but it only holds you back! Which also, in the relationship case often results in no need of mutual understanding and being frustrated with the need of change. And let me tell you this– change happens naturally and we are in a need of it, even if we deny it. Environment changes, our preferences change and we should be aware of it in order to find new ways that will make us fulfilled and joyful. In this case self-love is also the forgiveness, the acceptance for yourself that often comes along with finding it hard to admit that you did something wrong and willingness to tell yourself “it’s okay” and give yourself a hand without evaluation and self-punitive criticism. It’s putting yourself first. Good? Bad? What are your thoughts on it?
When we think of relationships we usually think about the other person, we see what they’re doing wrong and our actions become powered by theirs. We think of ways how to make them change, but the hard truth is relationships are mainly working on yourself. That’s what life really is about – self-work. It takes a ton of time to understand what you want, what you dislike, what brings you pleasure and how you can provide the other person with the same thing. There’s dealing with problems only you can fully understand, for no one sees the whole of you. Only you do.
This is self awareness and understanding.
Create a meaning outside of relationship
There’s this belief that in relationships there’s always one partner who seeks for freedom and the other seeks for attention. So I began thinking – how could we minimize this and make both sides feel understood? It took me a while, because I believe I’m the freedom seeker, but I came to the conclusion that it’s that one thing that people with curiosity have – a passion. Having a genuine interest in something in life gives us a sense of purpose, the want to spend time improving in that direction and both feeling taken care of thanks to yourself and giving the other person space. Having a life outside your romantic relationship does not mean you love your partner any less. It actually allows you to recharge your batteries and take care of yourself, for you and for the betterment of the relationship!
Here’s a few tips I’d give those searching for meaning outside of relationship:
- Focus on your own interests and if you don’t have any – try new things! Sign up for ceramic workshops, try a pilates class, take your friends and go for a dance masterclass. There are infinite possibilities and it’s so fun to discover new talents!
- Invest in your goals, trust me when I say experience is so much better than materialistic things. It stays with you forever and the better you get and the more time you invest into it – the more you want to keep working on it and put your efforts.
- Get comfortable being alone, it’s a biiig one! Solitude takes a lot of self-control. You learn to listen to your thoughts and get comfortable being in silence which at first is a hard thing to do, but oh it brings so much peace to your life.
- Set goals and maybe try creating a timeline to really stick to making them happen! This will take up so much of your time and secret? It makes you more appealing to your partner, because oh well – who isn’t attracted to what’s harder to get? Lol This also makes you way more interesting and brings so many new conversation topics to the plate.
Can you create shared meaning?
Of course you can! I’d call it making rituals. Having rituals may help you on the long road of relationship. It can be an annual ritual like an anniversary star gazing date, or a daily ritual, like a morning coffee together to begin each day. Building these in early in relationship will strengthen your connection and give you more time to get to know each other through different activities!
I really enjoy spending time with others, let’s say in the same room so we feel connection, but doing different things! You don’t always have to do the same thing, because people are simply interested in different activities, which brings us to another point…
Our partner is not for everything
Very often we search for a person who will want to read romantic novels, star gaze, dance, watch football games, surf, meditate and paint with us. Possible? Well, to some extent, but it’s so much easier and more sustainable to have friends from doing these things with. Your partner is someone you should feel safe with, understood, someone you want to build a house with, full of love and affection. Its’ really quite impossible to be “the person for everything”. And yet we still get fixated on findin someone who will check all these things. Let’s be honest – you won’t really take your boyfriend on a gossip x mani date, will you? lol And so it goes the other way – you wouldn’t take your girlfriend for a man talk, with ps4 and… I really have no idea what men do hahaha
That’s really it, being in a relationship comes with a commitment – to the other person, but also to ourselves and our values. It is so important to remember that our interests are the things that make up who we are and giving them up just to become fukky available for our partner is not the way to go… Stay true to yourself, remember about the space and you’ll thrive!