What do couples who manage to stay deeply love do more often than couples who don’t? After being in practice for over 20 years and working with couples on a daily basis, I have learned one very important thing: people that are in relationships need to be their own person with established boundaries for the relationship to thrive. One of the only ways to achieve this is to be more selfish — as counterintuitive as it sounds.
It’s easy for a long-term relationship to get stuck in a routine that you and/or your partner may have outgrown. Reinventing and reflecting on the fabrications of yourself and your relationship is key! Think about it like this: you are not the same person you were when you met your partner. Heck, you aren’t the same person you were six months ago! Start giving yourself a little more “me-time” to understand who you are and what your boundaries are. Once you’ve grasped these, be open and sincere with your partner. Trust, it will definitely strengthen the bond!
You might be thinking, “OK, great! I need to start being more selfish, but what does that really entail?”
Let’s start by talking about emotions.
How comfortable do you feel expressing your true feelings about any given situation with your partner? It’s common to downplay our true feelings to avoid an argument. But you see, this isn’t really being selfish. You’re putting your partner’s needs before your own. This may come off as being selfless, but the truth is, you are only hurting your relationship. You end up creating bonds over false or outdated ideas, and there may be some unconscious resentment that begins brewing up underneath the surface. And let me tell you, it’s not your partner’s fault, it’s your own fault for not being honest with yourself.
You can start being more selfish by leading from a place of self-sufficiency and independence.
If you share different viewpoints with your partner, it doesn’t always have to be an invitation for an argument. I recommend the “no one has to die” approach. Both viewpoints are always valid, so it provides a safe place for freedom of expression. However, don’t be scared if any given topic or situation eventually leads to discussions. Talking through disagreements in a healthy, thought-provoking way is always recommended!
The other way to practice being more selfish in your relationship is by setting boundaries.
You should always set boundaries within your relationship. Let me repeat that. You should always set boundaries within your relationship. What are your non-negotiables? Is it going on a daily 10-minute walk? Or is it going to the golf range with your buddies a couple of times a month? Be mindful of what you need to feel 100 percent and make sure you don’t keep your partner guessing. Openly communicating this with your partner is vital.
Don’t get me wrong, boundaries are not about setting weird rules or limitations. It’s simply about taking care of yourself.
How can you make someone else happy if you can’t make yourself happy? It all starts with you! These boundaries should be established as early as possible to develop a habit and manage relationship expectations in a healthy manner. I always advise my clients to take an “Inside-Out” approach to their relationships. One has to fully understand themselves before they can give themselves to others. Much like the gym’s motto of “garbage in, garbage out” or the airlines’ motto of “put your own oxygen mask on before helping others,” setting boundaries helps you be a better person and ultimately, a better partner.
The essence of being more selfish is all about establishing a good foundation within your own self before trying to establish a relationship with someone else. Start being more selfish in all the right ways! Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.