Take Care of Your Own Needs
We often look to our partner to provide for our needs, and this can be a big mistake. People, whether they are in a relationship or not, need to function in a whole and complete manner. The best relationships are generally those in which two healthy and fully functioning adults come together and enhance each other with love, support, trust and nurturance. They appreciate the gestures of love that they receive from their partner, but they would be able to live full and complete lives even if they were not in a relationship.
We sometimes think that the two people should give equally to the relationship in order to achieve a balance – but it may be more productive to see the balance in a different way. Think instead about achieving a balance within yourself, so that the question becomes one of deciding how much to give to the relationship and how much to give to yourself. There are some things that you may want and which you can provide for yourself. You see these things as non-negotiable. For example, if your partner is always late for social events and you find this unacceptable, try going once alone – and the next time your partner will probably be ready on time. If your partner feels threatened by this, gets angry and starts an argument, try showing some empathy and decisiveness. Don’t participate in the argument. Simply say that you understand your partner’s feelings, but that this is something which is very important to you and you have decided to do it. It does not mean that you are rejecting or abandoning your partner, but it does mean that you are asserting yourself in a healthy way and taking care of your own needs. A simple act of assertiveness can often break a destructive pattern of mutual neediness.
A qualified couples therapist, marriage counselor, or relationship therapist can help you to develop effective relationship skills.
Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT