Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself in order to preserve your emotional, physical, and psychological well-being. Taking care of yourself and your various needs can be difficult enough to do when you are single because of responsibilities such as work, school, and other commitments. Taking care of yourself while you are in a relationship can be even more tricky because of the additional demands of the relationship itself. However, it is possible to be able to be in a romantic relationship without neglecting your own self-care.
Self-Care Nurtures Relationships
Practising self-care while you are in a relationship can help your relationships be healthier and more balanced. Depending on one person to cater to all of your needs can become unhealthy because it puts an unfair amount of pressure on the other person to be your main source of validation. Additionally, relying completely on your partner for companionship and support can become frustrating and suffocating for both partners within a relationship. This is why making time for family, friends, and personal hobbies should be encouraged and respected by both parties in a relationship. Connections outside of one’s romantic relationship are needed to help us remain independent as well as preserve our sense of self.
One way of practising self-care while in a relationship is through the setting up and negotiation of each partner’s boundaries. Some boundaries that might be worth discussing in your relationship include, but are not limited to:
- The needs and expectations about time spent together and apart
- Working on one’s personal goals outside of the relationship
- The need for personal space after a conflict
Communicating such boundaries could help both partners in the relationship achieve more clarity in terms of what their own and their partner’s needs are. This can ultimately help to achieve a greater balance and avoid issues such as resentment, possessiveness, and insecurity that could arise from being completely dependent on one’s partner. It is important to try and achieve a balance between prioritizing our own needs and being considerate of our partner’s individual needs.
Self-Care is Relational
Taking time for yourself while in a relationship requires mutual communication and respect from both partners in the relationship. Being in a relationship means that we are part of a system, meaning that our behaviours affect our partners and vice versa because we are interdependent beings. Viewing self-care as relational instead of just individual can help both partners support each other in ways that can help them be more present in the relationship. What this means for the relationship is that taking care of me takes care of us.
Self-care is not only healthy for each individual but also for the health of the relationship as a whole. Have a talk with your partner and explain your own form of self-care, as well as what they could or could not do to help you achieve this. Then, do the same thing back and see what your partner needs to be able to practice their own self-care too.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Pamela Borg is a counsellor who enjoys working therapeutically with adults experiencing various issues. These include general mental health and well-being, gender, sexuality, and relationship issues.
Crosby, J. (2021). Relationship self-care: 6 tips for prioritizing yourself when you’re in a relationship. Retrieved from: https://thriveworks.com/blog/relationship-self-care-tips-prioritizing-yourself/
Farris, M. (2019). How to Manage Self-Care and Boundaries in Romantic Relationships. Retrieved from: https://www.counselingrecovery.com/blog-san-jose/how-to-take-care-of-yourself-in-relationships
Romanelli, A. (2022). There Is No Such Thing as Self-Care in Relationships. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-other-side-relationships/202202/there-is-no-such-thing-self-care-in-relationships
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