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We like to think of relationships as an arrangement where two people come together to complete each other. But the reality is slightly different. The truth is that all of us are unique individuals with our own needs and aspirations, and relationships are supposed to support and complement our personalities and life choices. And so there will be moments when you feel you should put yourself first. Which is perfectly reasonable.
So here are some things to keep in mind; hopefully you’ll find something along the way that’s relevant to you:
1. Some opportunities only come around once
We all have ideas of what our dream jobs are. Sometimes those jobs take us away from home, and in those instances there might be no other choice than to pursue a long-distance relationship. Some people freak out at this, and would rather end it than give it a shot. Sure, statistics are bleak, but if the relationship really matters then support is what you need, and support is what your partner should be ready to give.
2. We all have beliefs we’d rather die by if we cannot live by them
There will be moments in every relationship when we know it’s simply wiser to keep our opinions to ourselves. But this can become incredibly frustrating. If say, your boyfriend’s mum disapproves of you for a really superfluous reason and you feel compelled to stand your ground and prove yourself, do it. It would be safer to preserve the status quo, but in the long run all this resentment is simply going to boil over. If you can set the tone right from the beginning that you can’t be bullied, why not?
3. You might already have a clear idea of the life you want to have
We’re not saying that you shouldn’t compromise. You should, within reason. And it should be a two way street. If he wants you to be a stay-at-home mum to look after the kids and you don’t want to, be firm about that. Maybe you love your job, or maybe you think it’s only healthy that the kids get to see dad as much as they get to see mum. Fair enough. Work it out, but don’t be selfless just because you think it’s what’s expected of you in a relationship. You’re doing each other no favours for the long run.
4. Deciding what to have for dinner is easier than you think
We’ve all had this conversation. You secretly want to eat at a particular restaurant but because you think you’re being polite, you say, “Anything.” And he says the same. You guys go back and forth that way until he makes a suggestion and you say, “What, no, anything but that please.” If you want something and you’re given the opportunity to make that decision, seize it! Don’t balk when things don’t go your way. Sometimes being selfless is just an inconvenience rather than something that will strengthen your relationship.
Love is a two way street, and ‘selfish’ is a word that we often run from because we think it carries with it a ton of negative connotations. But it’s okay to want what you want. And don’t forget that for a relationship to work, it needs to be built on lives that are genuine, not lives spun out of some hope for a fairytale where true love wins in the end no matter what.