I used to be the girl who changes everything in her life for a relationship, but despite my best efforts to be a loving, caring, and giving partner my relationships failed anyway. Now, I’ve decided to do things a little bit differently this time around. My new mantra is, “My boyfriend comes first… AFTER I take care of myself.” Here’s why:
- I’m going to give a lot anyway so being a little selfish is healthy. Since I give so much, pulling back just means that I’ll always have something left over in the reserves for myself. I give my time, energy, body, resources, love, and room in my bed to this man. However, I’ve learned that taking some of that back and keeping it for myself is key. For example, I’m learning to say no sleepovers every night of the week because I know that sometimes I just need a little me time. In the past, I’ve given so much away that didn’t know who I was anymore. I don’t want that to happen again.
- I’m at a critical place in my professional life right now. Am I the only woman who feels like she’s in a relationship with her boyfriend and with her career at the same time? I’m constantly balancing these two significant parts of my world and it can be a little stressful. One thing for sure is that my career is my main focus right now. I can’t afford to stop the momentum I have going and if I let up, well, that’s my problem. Right now, my career and I come first.
- I’m still young, so I should be my biggest priority. Listen, I’m still in my 20s. I’ve got a lot of life to live as far as I’m concerned. You know those elderly people who say that the worst thing is having a life full of regrets? Yeah, I don’t want to be that person. Yes, I love my boyfriend and I intend to be with him forever, but I also love me. I’m young and I’ve basically got a license to be selfish, so for right now I’m going to use it.
- I’m still figuring out who I am and what I care about. Similarly, I’m still trying to figure out who I even am. You know that Britney song where she croons about feeling stuck between girlhood and womanhood? Hi, samesies! Sometimes I feel like I really have it all together and other times it’s laughable how much that isn’t true. In past relationships, I’ve given way too much of me away and at the end of the relationship, I felt so empty. I think that emptiness was the result of not having a solid personal foundation in the first place.
- Taking care of myself will lead to a stronger relationship. One of the biggest problems with relationships is that people use their partner to cure the things that they don’t like about themselves. They depend on the other person like a crutch. I don’t want to bring half of me to my relationship. I want to bring a whole version of me who has the tools to be strong for herself. This way, we’ll be happier together because we’re stronger together.
- I’m preparing now for my dirty 30s, y’all. I see my 20s as a period of personal growth. I want to live fast and take risks now so that by the time my 30s hit, I’m a boss in every sense of the word. Too many women look back at their 20s with hella woulda, coulda, shoulda regrets. I want to minimize those as much as possible. Plus, I believe that preparation can help manage the unpredictable. By focusing on my career, my finances and my personal well-being and growth now, I figure I’ll be ready to take on new stages of my life later, like marriage and family, without regret.
- I don’t see a ring on my left ring finger. Yes, we’re in a committed relationship, but we’re not engaged. In past relationships, I gave my boyfriends everything almost immediately. My social life with my friends suffered, my bank account went way down, and I stopped doing things that I loved to do. This is not to say that when you get married, your social life has to suffer or you have to do everything your husband wants, but I think there’s a difference in how two people prioritize each other before and after marriage. Until then, I’m going to make sure that I am taken care of first, always.
- If he loves me, he’ll understand. My boyfriend knows that I work really hard and that I’m trying to be the best woman that I can be. By respecting my need to maintain some independence, he shows me that he loves me and that he respects me as an individual.
- He still comes first—it’s just after me. At the end of the day, I still prioritize my relationship. My guy is the first person I want to talk to in the morning and the last person I want to see at night. When I make plans, I usually include him. It’s one of the most important and significant relationships in my life, but as a woman who gives so much without expectation, I’ve had to learn to reel it back a little bit and remember that losing myself in someone else is not worth it. Forcing myself to take me-time and assert my independence without feeling guilty about it has been hard, but it’s essential to my happiness and well-being.