The selfishness I am referring to here is not the, “I’m eating all the ice cream and you can’t have any,” of childhood birthday parties gone awry. It is the selfishness of putting one’s self first by making the practice of self-care and self-awareness a priority. It is the “selfishness” of putting on your own oxygen mask first, because you are valuable in yourself, and also so that you can be more present and helpful with others. This is important in a relationship because if you’re not looking out for yourself, you may get lost or go down a troubled path. By allowing yourself to be selfish in a self-respecting way, you may very well find that your romantic relationship becomes more vibrant, enjoyable, open, and real. Here are a few reasons why practicing self-care and listening and attending to your own needs in a relationship will serve you in the long run:
12The Little Things Matter
If you’re not sure where to start with self-care in a relationship, start small and specific. Make a commitment to listen to yourself in one realm of your life and/or relationship. Maybe your first selfish or self-honoring move relates to a household chore, or the issue of who holds the remote, or of where you go out for dinner. Taking care of yourself in these instances could involve taking a minute to breathe and really listen to your inner needs. If you are someone who tries to please others, ask yourself what feels right to you, not what you imagine might feel right to them. This can make your relationship more balanced and fair.
11You Have to Start Somewhere, Sometime
We can’t all expect to become Wonder Women overnight. Even if self-care feels like a gargantuan task that you’re not sure you can pull off, there’s still no time like the present to give it a go. If you wait until you have sh*t together to start practicing self-care in your relationship, you’ll probably realize that you’re never going to totally have it “together” anyway. Part of self-care and being selfish in a loving way towards yourself is knowing that you are imperfect, and trying to be your own friend anyway.
10It Can Help Us Accept Ourselves
It’s easy to get caught up in self-criticism, lack of self-belief, and the general frustration, anxiety, and sadness that can arise at times for any person. We all also receive a lot of negative feedback from society about how we are supposed to look and behave in order to be loved. Maybe one way to look at self-care in an open-minded light is to consider that it doesn’t mean trying to become some better, or happier, or more attractive and together person; it just means listening to yourself more and being willing to give self-acceptance a try.
9Your Partner’s Reaction Will Tell You A lot About Your Relationship
When you make a commitment to put your own needs first more often, people will react in a variety of ways. If your partner is astounded and upset, it may mean that he or she was buying into the system in which you didn’t stand up for yourself. If this happens, you don’t necessarily have to jump ship—see if they are willing to talk about these dynamics with you and evolve. While change is hard for everyone, some partners will support your growth overall, and that is a good sign.
8Letting Someone Push You Around Doesn’t Do Them Any Favors
Not taking care of yourself may sometimes feel like you’re putting others first, but it is actually not a kindness. If someone is taking advantage of your lack of self-care, they are learning habits of manipulation and thoughtlessness that will not serve them in the rest of their lives nor in their other relationships. Taking care of yourself can be an excellent way to shift a relationship dynamic to one that is healthier for both of you. Letting someone mistreat you doesn’t benefit them in the long run.
7It Can Help You To Find Your Voice
When you tap into your inner desires and needs, you can develop a greater sense of attunement with yourself. You may start to be able to know what you want more quickly, and to honor your own desires more often. Hearing your own inner voice can make your actual voice stronger and easier to use. When you aim to take care of yourself in a relationship, you can practice speaking up for yourself, expressing your opinions, and sharing your truth. As you express yourself more clearly, you can hear and own your own evolving voice.
6It Can Be Empowering
If you are engaged in a sexual relationship, it can be very important to honor you own wants and desires about what you do and do not want to do. While we’ve come a long way, many women, and people of all genders, orientations, or non-labelling preference, still struggle with societal judgment and discomfort with sexuality. Exploring and finding what works for you can be very self-validating, not to mention attractive and genuinely hot. Sex that respects and values each participant can be both intimate and erotic, as well as unique to the specific couple.
5You’ll Be Available For Authentic Connecting
When you take care of yourself, your real self feels safer being present in the world and with others. As you befriend yourself, you may spend less time trying to protect yourself from other people or trying to please other people. You can aim to accept your own imperfections and be your own companion in life. This can help you to just authentically be however you are in the moment when other people are around. Authentic connection with yourself and others feels good, especially as you experience it more often.
4You’ll Feel Both Vulnerable And Alive
If you work on being there for you, you will be able to trust yourself more. You may find that as you trust yourself, you feel safer in the world, you can lose control a little bit, and live more freely. When you live more freely and show your heart to people, you will be more vulnerable. Showing your true heart and asking for love and respect are not always the safest things to do; they can sometimes lead to disappointment. But at the end of the day, knowing that you respected yourself, were your own friend, and chose to be more vulnerable and real, is rewarding–it will allow you to live your life more fully and see which relationships are really right for you.
3It May Rub Off On Your Partner
As Marianne Williamson said, “[a]s we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” When you practice self-care and make your own happiness a valid priority in your life, you will often come off to other people as more radiant and pleasant to be around. Your light can spark their own flame, and you can model self-care for others. Taking care of yourself can actually be a great gift to your significant other, and can help you both to maintain healthy boundaries.
2It May Rub Off On Your Other Relationships
We are constantly developing habits and routines in our lives. The more we practice acting in a certain way, the more it will become familiar to us and probably repeat. When you choose to practice self-care in one relationship, you will be more likely to do it in others. Once you set high standards for how you wish to be treated, it will be harder to willingly lower those standards in any situation. One healthy, evolving, and loving relationship can have a powerful positive impact on your life and how you relate to others.
1You’ll Get to Know Yourself Better
When you start to listen to yourself more, you may be surprised at how much you can learn about yourself. Your preferences, desires, and needs will become clearer to you. With mindfulness and self-care, you can pay attention to how you feel with different people and in different situations and learn what triggers old pain and what soothes your spirit. Self-love also means giving yourself permission to reinvent yourself every day, and change your mind. When you practice self-care and are your own friend, you gain a new life companion in yourself.
Hopefully, this list inspires you to be a bit more “selfish” in the sense of nurturing yourself, listening to yourself, and making yourself a priority. These are not easy tasks, and being gentle with yourself while you explore them over time is a big part of befriending yourself. Best wishes to you on your journey!