By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD
When you’re in a relationship, do you tend to lose yourself in your partner? If so, maybe it’s time to give some thought to how much you’re willing to change yourself for love. While you’ll need to make compromises in a relationship, it’s important that you remain true to yourself. A few ways you can keep healthy boundaries:
Be self-aware: Be conscious of your thoughts and beliefs and how they’re the same or different from what your partner thinks. Spend time with your emotions and allow yourself to understand them, just as you might sit with visitors and get to know them. If you feel uncomfortable or distressed, identify whether you’re sad, hurt, angry, or something else.
Assert yourself: Once you know your thoughts and feelings, share them with others. Speak up with your opinions, even if they’re about something as basic as your preference for a restaurant or movie.
To feel good about yourself and your relationship, you must feel supported in expressing your feelings, pursuing your interests, and maintaining your values. If these create a conflict with your partner, he should still be respectful of you and want to find a way for you both to be happy.
Set Limits: In becoming self-aware, you’ll figure out what’s okay with you and what’s not. This applies to various areas of life, such as social and sexual situations. It’s key that you respect and honor your own limits. You should expect that your partner will also respect them. If you disagree about something, like whether it’s okay for him to meet up with an old girlfriend or to watch pornography, then directly state what you are and are not willing to accept. You might choose to compromise on an issue, but even in doing so, you should feel respected.
Take Care of Yourself: Make this a priority. It’s not healthy when life situations keep preventing you from tending to your basic needs, like getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and getting exercise. Self-care also includes giving yourself time to do the things you enjoy. When you don’t take good care of yourself, it can leave you feeling depleted, anxious, or depressed.
Be Compassionate to Yourself: All people have to face struggles born of mistakes, personal weaknesses, or limitations. To continue to honor your true self and make space for personal growth, be kind, accepting, and supportive of yourself.
When you care for yourself, along with caring for your partner, you’ll feel personally stronger. And your relationship will become a source of comfort, personal growth, and emotional nourishment for you both.
The Art of Relationships blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.