The first time I was asked if I had a boyfriend was in the fourth grade.
To which I proudly confirmed to my grandmother that, yes, I did. He was from down the street, and although he sometimes would push me on the jungle gym, he was my boyfriend. As I got older, “do you have a boyfriend,” lead most conversations.
So you can imagine that ingrained in my mind was this: having a boyfriend was the be all and the end all. It was like if I had a boyfriend everything was supposed to be fine, better, but here’s the zinger, it never was that way. It was like no matter what he did or didn’t do, I wasn’t happy.
Well, if we want to be happy in a relationship, I’ve found that it boils down to only a couple of things: self-care and knowing what is and is not our responsibility.
To be happy in a relationship we need to feel good about ourselves and feeling good is all about figuring out what makes us tick.
Maybe after a yoga class you feel energized and abundant or maybe you make yourself a healthy meal and giggle with excitement. It could be taking a walk, or getting a new haircut, but exploring the world to figure out what makes us feel good is the first step, and then the second is to continue to keep feeling this way in the relationship.
How do we do this? By maintaining the same rituals that make us happy on our own like going on walks, eating chocolate, watching romantic comedies and talking for hours with friends.
Once we start taking care of ourselves, we make ourselves a priority and essentially take responsibility for our well-being. This way if we are upset about something we know exactly how to make ourselves feel better, we no longer rely on our partner or the outside world to fulfill us.
Know what is and isn’t our problem
When we are on our own, the only person we are responsible for is ourselves, but when we get into a relationship our responsibilities change. Most people would think they are now not only responsible for themselves but also their partner, not so. It is the relationship we are responsible for, not another person.
If things aren’t going well for our partner at work, it’s not our job to fix it. Or if they are in a bad mood, it’s not our duty to get them out of it. The best way to be happy in a relationship is knowing what is and is not our problem.
To figure this out, think of it this way. There are three players in a relationship: you, your partner, and the relationship. It’s like if I go out to dinner and I sit on one side and my partner the other, what’s in the middle is shared, for both of us. If the problem is in the middle of the table then it may be my responsibility, but if it’s on my partner’s side then it’s not my issue.
The way to be happy in a relationship is by taking care of ourselves, and paying attention to what we are responsible for. Once that’s cemented, we are well on our way to a fulfilling relationship.
Now, get to it!
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Ed: Dana Gornall