There’s an annoying habit that people in relationships love to do: overuse the word ‘we’. It’s like their individual selves have melted into a hybrid of them and their partner, swapping personal thoughts and ideas for collaborated suggestions.
I swore myself to not become one of these women, but just yesterday I heard myself discussing ‘our’ and ‘we’ as casually as I’ve started adopting my boyfriend’s vocabulary.
For years, I used to roll my eyes and scoff at couples finishing each other’s sentences, texting every minute to say ‘I love you’; following each other around a party as though their Mickey and Minnie Mouse entertainers at Disneyland. All those basic things that are particularly dull to a single person, now feel understandable as one-half of a relationship.
While my boyfriend and I have our own kept differences, I find myself thinking about him and his choices even when we’re not together. Recently, for instance, I met a friend for a meal. She suggested sushi for a starter, and I immediately thought, ‘Oh, my boyfriend wouldn’t like that.’ I had to mentally acknowledge to myself that I’m alone and can now share this option with someone else.
Trying to remain an individual is somewhat strange when couples make so many decisions simultaneously – food, holidays, décor, overall plans… I can see how people merge into their partners.
But it’s never a nice thing to witness. I’m still dumbfounded at an old friend quickly falling in love and suddenly opting to stay in after years of going out. She gave up some of her hobbies and cut down contact with friends and with that, we lost the connection that kept our friendship going.
One of the biggest benefits of being single is having the freedom and time to grow and learn about yourself. You can be 100% in control; there’s no pressure to go out and do something that you’d rather say no to. You also make more decisions for yourself, increasing self-confidence.
In relationships, you have to navigate the balance between compromise and making your own choices so you can still individually grow in a relationship. While my boyfriend has taught me a lot of things that have drastically changed my life for the better, I still need to keep a space open to develop in a way my single self used to.
Here are some of the things I’m practising to increase my self-growth:
Not checking personal decisions
When we ask for someone’s opinion, we are teaching our brains to not trust our own judgment. There are times when it’s important to ask for advice because a second opinion can give us invaluable feedback. But often, we ask for feedback because we are feeling insecure about our decision-making skills.
Lately, I’ve been going to my partner for so many different questions relating to my blog and work. It’s become a bad habit to rely on him for safety rather than choosing to just do something and potentially make a mistake.
When I have an issue relating to my work, I now force myself to quickly decide and then stick by my decision.
Not copying what my boyfriend does
There is still a little bit of people-pleasing going on in my brain. My boyfriend will ask what I want for dinner, and I will immediately suggest something that I think he would like.
He’s not the biggest fan of popcorn and so whenever we would go to the cinema, I would just say no to having it. But last week, at the theatre, I bought this big tub and funnily enough he ended up sharing it with me.
This type of change is very small, but over time, if we keep putting people first, we stop trying to please ourselves. We can end up not visiting the places we want and ultimately not enjoying ourselves as much as we would. That’s why I’m learning not to be so agreeable.
Planning more me time
My boyfriend and I very quickly fell into a relationship. Almost immediately, we started spending all this time together, enjoying nights out and snuggling up on the sofa. My routine completely flipped – less working out and less self-care.
While I absolutely love all the time we spend together, I realised it’s not healthy to cut back on looking after myself. Both of us now have really balanced lifestyles – we’ve become comfortable having our own space and sometimes doing things individually, even when we’re sitting next to each other.
Suggested next read: How I Keep the Spark Alive in My Relationship
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