It sounds odd, doesn’t it? To aspire to be a partner’s second priority.
When seeking a mate, we often envision being their everything. We tend to view romantic love as all-consuming, wanting someone who spends all of their free time with us and cares most deeply about our needs. “Someone who puts us first” is an assumed item on the partner wish list.
It sounds good to have someone who’s all about and all over you. To be #1 in someone’s life is generally a coveted experience. Yet, this may be more romantic in theory than in practice when you really think about it.
If you want this level of attention and commitment, a partner will likely expect you to offer it in return. They’ll anticipate occupying the top spot on your list of priorities as well.
However, if they’re number one, then what number are you?
To be a whole partner, you must feel like a whole person. You have to be able to nurture your desires and build a healthy relationship with yourself. You can’t do this if always considering someone else’s feelings above your own. The very expectation is debilitating.
Putting yourself first is an act of self-care. And the better you care for yourself, the more effectively you can care for others. You can pour into your partner from personal overflow instead of a deficit.
Like oxygen on an airplane, you can’t help others until you help yourself. Set boundaries if you are overextended and find the courage to express your needs. … When your needs are met and you feel good about yourself, it’s easier to elevate the needs of other people in front of your own, says Leadership Coach Liz Bentley.Don’t like ads? Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad free
I think most of us know that we’re better lovers and friends when we feel good ourselves. Yet, we hesitate to do what’s necessary to maintain our sense of well-being for a few reasons:
- We don’t want people to think we’re selfish. It’s not thinking of yourself that’s problematic. It’s only thinking of yourself. We’re taught that putting ourselves last is an act of humility and grace. Yet, doing this consistently only leaves you unfulfilled.
- We want people to keep loving us. There’s a fear that if we don’t take care of people and give them what they want, they’ll grow angry with us. We’re afraid they’ll find someone else to do these things and render us expendable. So, we put a partner first in order to hold on to them.
- We don’t know how to put ourselves first. If your needs have been historically neglected and you felt like siblings or others were always considered before you, this could be the case. You learned to suppress and diminish the significance of your desires.
It’s not just OK, but necessary to put yourself first.
In detailing why many of her attempts at long-term romantic commitment failed, Relationship Coach Holly Priestley said this:
Relationships do need to have a give and take on all sides and there is often compromise. My lesson wasn’t that I should quit trying so hard or that I should be more selfish; my lesson was that I needed to learn how to take care of me in order for my partner to take care of me, too. You take care of yourself first, your partner will take care of him or herself first and then you’ll both have the power you need to brighten each other’s lives.
While it may sound appealing to find your Prince Charming or Cinderella, the real fairytale is having a partner who loves you so much that they want you to adequately love yourself. It’s pairing with someone who doesn’t require you to carry the impossible burden that is being their source of happiness.
The more space another person occupies in your thoughts and decisions, the less there is for you. If a partner wishes to be the center of your life, you’re left on the edges waiting for leftover consideration.
So, I say choose the one who wants to be your second priority. The one who wants you to prioritize your joy, needs, success, and goals first and foremost — because they know that finding happiness and balance separately is critical to finding it together. As you love yourself, so can you love others.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member today.
Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.