Many people, especially women, get taught throughout their lives that they owe things to other people, particularly their significant others. But to maintain your autonomy and independence in a relationship, it's important to keep sight of the things you don't owe your partner. Our primary allegiance is to ourselves, and we shouldn't feel pressure to do anything for someone else if we have to sacrifice our own happiness or mental health in the process.
"Sometimes, it's OK to advocate for yourself, even if that is incongruent to what your partner wants at times," licensed marriage and family therapist, sex therapist, and IntamacyMoons Retreats founder Marissa Nelson tells Bustle. "It's always important to communicate and be open and upfront about how you're feeling about a certain situation, while still being respectful of where your partner is coming from. Putting yourself first sometimes is good self-care, and you may not always agree with your partner's choices, but it's how you communicate and get to a place of understanding that shows the resilience and strength of a healthy relationship."
Here are some things you should never feel pressured to give your partner if you don't want to, because feelings of obligation will only lead to resentment.
Nobody owes anyone sex, period. Not if you've already started. Not if they've done something for you. Not if you haven't had sex in months. If someone's sexual needs are not getting met, they have the right to end the relationship, but they don't have the right to pressure their partner.
2Getting Along With Their Loved Ones
You owe it to your partner to try to get along with the people who matter to them, but if that doesn't work out, that's OK. You don't have to pretend to like people you don't. And if someone is outright abusive, you're entitled to avoid them for the sake of your own self-care.
3Arriving At And Leaving Parties Together
It took months of my partner and I resenting each other for either cutting each other's fun short or wearing each other out before I realized: Just because you came to a party together doesn't mean you have to leave together. You don't even have to arrive together! Coming and going as you please puts less pressure on both of you to either stay out when you want to be in bed or bid farewell to your friends before you're ready.
You have no obligation to come home from work in time to hang out with your partner, go to social events you don't want to go to, or spend your days off with them. You even have the right to take days to yourself if you need to reevaluate the relationship or just be alone.
If your partner feels neglected, you should hear them out and make us much time for them as you're willing to. But if you simply don't have the time, then either they need to accept that or you need to reconsider the relationship.
5Compromises On Your Values
We all need to compromise from time to time, but the moment your partner begins asking for you to compromise your core beliefs, they're asking too much. You should not have to give up or hide your politics, religion, or morals to stay in your relationship.
If your partner has done something to make you unhappy, you're allowed to say so, and you don't have to sugarcoat it. Dealing with your feelings may disrupt their workday or cause them stress, but feelings are like that: They aren't always convenient. Don't put your emotional needs on the back burner to keep your partner comfortable.
7A Good Mood All The Time
We're always told to be bright and cheery and smile, but for many of us, that's just not authentic. We deserve the chance to express our authentic emotions and selves around our partners, whether or not it boosts their mood.
Of course, this doesn't mean you owe your partner nothing. You owe them basic gestures like following through on your promises, keeping them aware of plans that affect them, and acknowledging important events in their lives. But your duty to them ends where your duty to yourself begins, and you need to be true to yourself to maintain a healthy relationship.