Relationships are a big part of life, but they're not life. Not your whole life, anyway. Your life is still very much your own, no matter how intimately connected it is to your partner, and you never have to apologize for doing your own thing. Because whether you stay together forever, or you're in the first of a string of a hundred different relationships, you can't ever break up with yourself.
It's a classic move (and a problematic one for many) to get into a relationship and to make that relationship their whole life. Then, that relationship ends and they're so distraught because they've literally lost everything, including their identity. Don't be one of those people who came seeking my advice when I was a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator because they were completely lost in their relationships and didn't know who they were anymore. That's not cool.
And while we're on the subject, you're also the boss of your own life. Sure, you have to compromise and make joint decisions together, but when it comes down to it, your life is yours, and your decisions are yours. You don't have to apologize for wanting to have your own identity outside of the relationship. Here are some other things you never have to apologize for in a relationship.
1. Not Wanting To Hang Out
Alone time. It's a glorious and sparkling piece of magic that you have the right to carve out of your life. Even if you live together, you still don't have to apologize for wanting your alone time. I live in a shoebox one bedroom apartment and when I need my own space, I chill in my bed with my headphones on. You don't owe your partner all of your time and attention.
2. Not Liking The Same Things
You don't have to start wearing cowboy (should't we call these cowperson?) boots just because you're dating a rodeo rider. You don't have to sit through football games every Sunday if you'd rather put needles in your eyes than do sports. You don't ever have to apologize for not being interested in something your partner is interested it. You can say, "that's just not my thing, but I like that you're so into it." Of course, sometimes you endure, because that's compromise, but if you feel like saying "deuces" and doing your own thing sometimes, that's cool, too.
3. Having Goals
Psh. You're a boss. And you should never be sorry about that. You don't have to apologize for working hard, working late, making sacrifices, and going the extra mile to get what you want out of life. You do need to make time for your partner and make sure they feel like a priority in your life. But any partner who doesn't support your goals, especially during the tough times, isn't the partner for you.
4. Not Agreeing With Their Opinions
You don't have to apologize for your opinions. The other day my wife was going on about how she wants a motorcycle and my anxiety heart just lost it's sh*t. But I had to tell her "my opinion is that motorcycles are dangerous wastes of money that make me think you're going to die, but I don't own you, so if you want to save up your spending money and get one, that's your life to live." No apologies for not wanting her to get one. And no apologies from her for still wanting one even though I disagree. You're never obligated to share your partner's opinions or change your own. And they're not obligated to miss out on something they really want because your opinions differ. Exceptions apply, of course, but for the most part, you shouldn't have to apologize for your opinions.
5. Being Attracted To Someone
Human beings are beautiful. Seeing an attractive human and having a biological response happens, and it doesn't mean you're going to cheat. It doesn't mean that you don't think your partner is attractive. It doesn't mean anything, really, other than you saw an attractive person. I saw so many couples grapple with jealousy issues when one partner looked at someone else or mentioned that another person was attractive. As long as you're being respectful and honoring your partner's boundaries, you don't have to apologize for being human. If I got mad every time my wife got distracted by another stunning creature, I'd be mad every day. And vice versa. Agree to disagree, if you must, but odds are, it's going to happen whether you notice it or not.
6. Having Feelings
People of the world, hear me now. Please stop apologizing for your feelings. "I'm sorry I'm so needy. I'm sorry I'm clingy today. I'm sorry I'm down today." No! If you did something wrong, took something out on your partner, acted inappropriately, or felt like your mood was upsetting your partner, you can apologize. But being human and having needs is not something you're doing wrong. If you had a sh*tty day, and you need some cuddles, get some cuddles. And don't feel the need to apologize for that.
7. Wanting To Break Up
You don't have to have anyone in your life who you don't want in your life. True story. You could be dating the most wonderful person in the whole world, but if you're not feeling it, you're not feeling it. You should be mature and kind when you let them know that you're ending the relationship, but after that, you don't owe them anything. If you don't want contact for a while (or forever), you don't have to apologize for that either. It's OK to break up with someone for any reason, if that's what you truly want or need.
8. Being (Or Not Being) In The Mood For Sex
You're not a sex factory. You're also not a person who isn't supposed to have any sexual desires. If you're just not feeling it and you tell your partner that sex is not in the cards at that moment, that's an acceptable thing to say and feel. On the other hand, if you want sex, don't apologize for letting your partner know. There's no shame in expressing your sexuality. And if you're in the mood and they aren't, they don't have to apologize either.
9. Not Looking Like A Magazine Cover
Sweatpants. Dirty hair. Yesterday's make up. Eating a waffle and reading the paper. If that's how you do Sunday morning or Tuesday afternoon, then you enjoy. You're not under any obligation to maintain supermodel status at all times for any person. If that's what you're into, then by all means, rock it. But if you're a regular person, odds are there are going to be times when you're just like "this is as good as it's getting today" and that's totally cool. Don't ever apologize for how you look, especially in your own home on your own down time. That's just real life. Your primary goal in life doesn't have to be curating your appearance for the enjoyment of others unless you want it to be.
10. Not Inviting Your Partner
Part of being a healthy person in a healthy relationship is that you continue to maintain your relationships with your friends or family members. That means sometimes they'll want to see you or spend time with you on a solo basis. Any loving, supportive partner will understand that sometimes you just need time with your people. Because sometimes they'll need their own time with their people. If your partner feels left out or hurt by this, remind them that it's healthy and encourage them to do the same. But you don't have to feel bad for sometimes not wanting them to come along.
11. Your Personality
You are who you are. If your partner isn't cool with your personality, then they shouldn't be your partner. I tell terrible jokes, dance in my underwear, make inappropriate comments, lose my phone every 3 minutes and foster an irrational hatred of shows about real-life murders. That's who I am. If my partner asked me not to make stupid jokes or asked me to put pants on while I dance, I'd be like "sorry not sorry." There are some core aspects of your life that, if they're not hurting anyone else, you don't have to apologize for or change. Period. (As if anyone wouldn't want their partner to underwear dance...). We all change each other in relationships. It's reality. But never change what you don't want to change.
And most of all, stop apologizing for living. It took me years and the help of a therapist to stop saying "I'm sorry" a thousand times a day for things I had no business apologizing for. You can do it, too!
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