I’m a giver. A BIG giver; I give it all and then some. It doesn’t matter if it’s a romantic connection or a friendship, I give everything to the nth degree. In the past, I did this to the point that I hardly knew who I was or what I wanted because I was too busy watching you to figure out what you would want from me. And why on Mama Earth would I do this?
Well, I was convinced that the more that I gave—the more that I created myself in the image of what others wanted—the less likely they would be to leave. I know now that this behavior was rooted in a lack of self-confidence. But it took me a while to learn just how detrimental this behavior was to the best, and most important relationship I will ever foster—the one with myself.
The truth is, we all have some experience with giving up too much of ourselves for the sake of a relationship. But the best relationships are a beautiful blend of giving and taking, so how do you know where to draw the line? It helps to know what you should absolutely never give up, and then work from there. So, here are six things you should never give up in a relationship:
1. Your independence:
In the first flush of a relationship, it’s hard to carve out time for ourselves and the life we had (and those in it). We get caught up in the flurry of hormones that our brains release when we meet someone new. But as inevitably happens in any lasting relationship, your hormones will begin to settle down and your relationship will become less “Together 24/7” and more “Where my girls at?” While I may not go out as much as I did before, I need some lady bonding time (and some solitude and a good book with a hot bath) to make me my best self in my relationship.
2. Your identity:
You’re pretty stinking fabulous. And all the glorious and unique facets of who you are should never be compromised. Relationships come and go, but you will always see your image in the mirror. And, duh, the things that captured your lover’s in the first place was your special brand of awesome. So, open up to new experiences and new ideas with your partner, but only integrate and adopt those that really resonate with you.
3. Your happiness:
If your relationship cuts you off from the things that make you happy, it’s time to pause. Being in a relationship should increase your happiness. It should be an opportunity to share what brings us joy with someone we care about and for them to share those things with us. But you probably won’t share every single interest, and your connection should be secure enough that you have the freedom to explore and experience joy outside of your relationship, too.
4. Your dreams and ambitions:
Nothing is more beautiful and awe-inspiring than someone who is pursuing their dreams. I watch my husband in the backyard building our new patio, which he designed entirely on his own, and I fall more deeply in love with him. Why? Because he is pursuing his passions. He is learning and trying new things. That takes curiosity and courage—two things I find insanely attractive. And I’m not the only one. The day you give up your purpose is the day you stop becoming your best self.
5. Your faith:
My husband is an atheist and I am a mystic. But never once have I felt the need to change that. Instead he tells everyone about my many nontraditional beliefs from a place of reverence and inspiration. He loves that I’m dedicated to my spirituality and I dig that he digs that. Your faith is deeply personal and while we may see faith differently, we do not change our North Star unless something is singing to our soul.
6. Your right to be heard:
Your voice is your power. It’s how you share your ideas with the world, advocate for something you believe in, and stand up for yourself when necessary. Relationships should be breeding grounds for greater security and confidence in our voice. We should feel safe exploring what we think and believe in our relationships. We should be able to engage in meaningful discourse. Your ideas are important. They are meant to be heard. Don’t stay quiet.
Allowing ourselves to grow disconnected from who we are robs us of the very thing that makes us worthy of love in the first place. We are inherently and divinely deserving of love. When we try to change ourselves or give up inherent parts of ourselves in order to “keep” someone around, we send the message that we are not worthy of love unless we do so. Remind yourself how much you deserve to be loved, by others and yourself, every single day.
Want more insight on whether your relationship is healthy and the reasons it might not be? Check out these seven signs you’ve found the one and learn how to rewire your brain to have a more secure attachment style.