Relationships are made of two people. All that "becoming one" stuff is fine, but it tends to ignore the fact that no matter how close you and your partner become, you're still individuals. Focusing on yourself and your own happiness is just as important (if not more important at times) than working on the happiness of your relationship. And it's not selfish to take time to make yourself happy. In fact, it's critical. If you expect your partner to totally cancel out any negative feelings or events in your life, you'll soon learn that you've bought yourself a one-way ticket to Disappointment Town. Not only is it unrealistic and impossible, it's also a completely unfair thing to ask of another person.
There are types of satisfaction that can’t come from your partner, or even your friends. If you’re not actively working on your happiness, you’ll be missing out on a lot of the experiences that make you a whole person. Amie M. Gordon Ph.D, a relationship expert, pointed out in an article for Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life that sacrificing too much of your own happiness or identity in a relationship sets you up for an imbalance of power, which is a great way to steer your relationship into red flag territory. Separate identities within one loving unit is the key. And it's not only the key to love bliss, it's also crucial for your health. Harvard Medical School reported that people in satisfying, healthy relationships get a health boost and experience fewer chronic ailments, such as heart disease. When your heart is happy, your heart is also healthy.
Here are some more benefits to making yourself happy while you're in a relationship.
1. You'll Get More Of Your Needs Met
Your partner can't meet all your needs, and your relationship can't provide your sole source of happiness. It's up to you to foster career satisfaction, fill your creative well, and figure out who you are. When you rely on your partner to meet all your needs, you place an unfair burden on him or her that often leads to resentment. And not getting your needs met isn't an option either. This can lead to anxiety, addiction and other unhealthy coping mechanisms, according relationship counselor and therapist Rachel Eddins in an article for Psych Central. It's not selfless to subjugate your needs; it's self-sabotage.
2. You'll Weather A Breakup A Bit Better
What if you break up? There's a difference between being completely devastated and being completely lost. According to Dr. Kim Maertz of the University of Alberta Mental Health Center, having your partner as your only close friend not only intensifies breakups, but stretches out the process of moving on and having other meaningful relationships. It's like feeding negative emotional gremlins after midnight. If you've nurtured your own goals, friendships, and interests, you'll have people and things to fall back on when you're no longer in a couple. You'll still be you.
3. You'll Have More Things Figured Out
When you're with your partner 24/7, it's easy to live in a love bubble and ignore things that you really shouldn't be ignoring. When you step out of this bubble to do something on your own or to hang out with your friends, you can take the time and space to think about your life and your relationship.
You can talk to people about things you don't want to talk to your partner about... like venting about your partner's annoying habits or hashing out your hang-ups with your bestie. Doing so is actually a form of creating healthy boundaries between you and your partner, according to Eddins. These kinds of boundaries protect you from disconnecting from your true self.
4. You'll Be More Fun To Hang Out With
Happy people make better companions. Think about it. Don't you want to spend the majority of your free time with someone who's fun and happy and enjoying your time together? This is probably the most obvious, but also most significant way that making yourself happier makes your relationship happier. Plus, if you're actively working on yourself, you'll have more things to talk about and bond over, which, according to Ann Hartlage, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist, is at the core of building deeper intimacy.
5. You'll Have Better Sex
Sex has a strong emotional component. As you increase your confidence and communication skills, you'll also create a deeper and more satisfying sexual connection, according to Harvard Medical School. Confident people also know what they want, and that includes what they want in the bedroom. Plus, all that juicy gossip with your crew might give you some new ideas for how to take your sex goddess game to the next level.
6. You'll Get To Miss Each Other
Missing each other is the worst, but it's also the best. It feels good to know that your partner misses you when you're not around. It also makes the reunion sweeter. You need to miss each other once in a while to truly appreciate each other's presence. In fact, a UK study found that a surprising number of happy couples attribute their good relationships to alone-time activities, such as sleeping in separate bedrooms and spending ample time apart. Distance requires trust and communication. It also prevents you from taking your partner's presence for granted.
Your relationship is important, but so are you. And you exist outside of your relationship — keep this in mind, and doing the things that make you the happiest will seem like the only natural choice.