Would you be happy in a relationship with you?
As a counselor, I help couples to make their relationship better. I try my best to navigate their issues and help them find solutions. One of the most vital characteristics of a counselor is to care about people, and I care about you!
I care so much about you that I need to tell you some essential news. Maybe you have heard it before, but not this way. The most important relationship you will have is the one you have with yourself. Would I kid you? It’s true.
Listen to what Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’:
She always wished another person would offer her certainties when she was feeling troubled (loving her, no matter what). “Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.”
In the TV series Sex and the City, Samantha can be heard telling Richard that she loves him, but that she loves herself more. She explains that she has been in a relationship with herself all her life, and that is the one she needs to continue to nurture.
It is all too common to hear people say that a spouse or significant other should mend their wounds, provide them with happiness and unconditional adoration, but that is a tall order! Wanting so much sets us up for false expectations. That’s why I’m letting you know that the central prerequisite for a successful, fulfilling relationship is to first have a good rapport with yourself.
Let’s take, for instance, Kathy and Dan, recently married college graduates starting their careers. Dan was deep in the relationship with Kathy. When not at work, he was spending lots of his time interacting only with Kathy, focusing on couple activities. It was easy for Dan to forget that he should also be spending time by himself. He had put aside his responsibility to keep up a relationship with himself. By neglecting all his previous friends and hobbies, he became dependent on Kathy. When Kathy went back to school to get her masters degree, Dan felt neglected by her time in class and long study hours. He felt she should pay all her attention to him.
We all come into and leave this world alone. Relationships with others can end in divorce and heartbreak, but the relationship you have with yourself remains. Make it a priority.
Are you able to spend time with yourself? Do you enjoy your own company? Here are some ways to start a relationship with yourself today:
1. Take yourself on a date. Yep, you heard me correctly. See that new movie you’ve wanted to see. Go to the bookstore and peruse magazines you like. Treat yourself to lunch at a restaurant you’ve heard about. Go on a trip (finances pending, of course) to a place you have always wanted to see but that was not of interest to your partner, spouse, or significant other.
2. Ladies, buy yourself flowers. Put them where you can see them daily to remind yourself of how special you are. Guys, test drive some fast cars or spend a day fishing.
3. Stay in your pj’s all day and watch re-runs of movies that you love. Guys, it is okay to sleep in on a Saturday, watch sports as long as you like, and not shave. Maybe it is a day to work on the boat or putter in the garage on a fix-it project. Perhaps the evening can be spent playing cards with friends.
4. Get a massage. Have your nails done.
5. Take a course in a foreign language. You could even plan a trip to the country where it is spoken.
6. Join a bowling league or tennis team. Go on a long bike ride in the countryside.
7. Try a class in painting, dance, kick boxing, or some other skill that you have been talking about for years, even if you feel you aren’t talented in it.
These are just a few ideas. Use your imagination and your wish list to make it unique for you.
Now hear this: don’t just do these things. Do it with a sense of passion. Indulge yourself in interests that have been on the back burner for a long time.
In the case of Dan and Kathy, Dan got so tired of feeling sorry for himself that he decided to step into his soul and ask himself some important questions:
• How happy am I?
• Am I meeting my own needs?
• Are there aspects of my life that I want to change but have been afraid to change?
• How can I live life to the fullest?
Dan decided that one thing he had always wanted to do was to learn a language. With the help of learning software that he put on his computer, each day he studied the Hopi Indian language. After several months he felt ready to take a trip to Arizona to practice the language and to see the Hopi Snake Dance in Walpi, built at a cliff’s edge in the 1600s. This was just fine with Kathy, who didn’t like heights and had exams all week. When he came home, Kathy was eager for him to share what he had experienced.
As Dan learned, being in a relationship with yourself means loving yourself without conditions, being accepting of all your flaws, and feeling entitled to the best life has to offer. Learning to love yourself and being comfortable with who you are, makes it easier for others to love you as well.
You are important and your happiness matters. Make today the first day of your new relationship, the one with yourself.