When two people start dating, become an official couple and commit to each other, they begin to create something together. This requires sacrifice and compromise, but how do we know if we’re sacrificing too much and losing our individuality? And how do we know if we’re holding back and not committing enough? Part 1 begins to unpack this important issue.
Becoming a couple and building something together is meant to be fun and enjoyable. Relationships are meant to be a blessing and are meant to bring mutual fulfilment.
If you’ve read any of my other blogs on this website before, you know that I think it’s vital to realise that no relationship is perfect. No couple is perfect. So it’s important to lay a good foundation as early on as possible so that we can avoid/learn to navigate potential problems later on.
An issue that a few people and articles have highlighted to me recently, is the concern of ‘keeping my own identity’ in a romantic relationship.
I have friends who started dating and then almost became ‘one person’ straight away. They did everything together and never spent time apart. They stopped investing in friends and wider hobbies, creating an intense romantic bubble that made their relationship weaker. (Read Are You Making The Relationship Mistake That Causes Unhappiness?)
We’re two people not one, but we’re also two people building something together
On the other hand, I know couples who are keeping their partner at ‘arms-length’ for whatever reason, not opening up or building the trust and vulnerability needed for a relationship to plant deep roots. (Read If A Relationship Doesn’t Change Me, Then It’s Not A Relationship.)
Both of these traps can hinder our relationships down the road. We’re two people not one, but we’re also two people building something together. So how do we remember these important truths and avoid running into problems?
Balance Is A Myth
I think it would be unwise to talk about ‘balance’. Sometimes couples need to focus on being a couple and sometimes on their individuality. Different seasons, personalities and unique dynamics affect this emphasis. But how do we stop ourselves sleepwalking into a situation that focuses on one situation for too long?
How can we avoid the trap of going too far in one direction?
Well, this blog tries to help us remember that being a couple involves two individual people, and avoid the traps of becoming too enclosed in a romantic bubble. Part two will explore the other side of the coin. So for now, we will think about:
- Where We Find Our Value?
- Do We Constantly Sacrifice?
- Just Focus On Their Happiness?
- Spend All Out Time Together?
Where We Find Our Value?
Our value is not in our relationship status.
Now don’t get me wrong, as we become a couple and commit more and more, obviously, our relationship becomes a big part of our life. It does bring fulfilment and value. But this can’t be the only place we get it from.
Wider hobbies, friendships, family, etc., all of these things should be places we find self-respect and value too. If we put too much pressure on our relationship to fulfil all of our needs, the strain it’s under can become too much for those involved.
I would also argue, as a Christian, we need to find our main value in our relationship with God. Everything is this world can change, but being accepted and welcomed into God’s family is the constant we can rely on, whether single, dating or married.
We enrich our relationship by bringing value, self-worth and mutual respect. If we’re wanting the relationship to give us all of our value, and not develop friendships and community, we can fall into the trap of expecting too much from our romantic relationship, and weaken it.
Do We Constantly Sacrifice?
If we’re constantly sacrificing and giving up things which are important to us to accommodate our partner, then there may be a problem.
All relationship require big sacrifices and little day to day ones too, where we put each other first. But if we’re doing it constantly and our partner isn’t, then it may mean we’re forgetting that we need to be looked after and cared for as well.
If all of the hard work and sacrifice is one way, we aren’t building a mutually fulfilling relationship, and may fall into the trap of thinking this is normal. Mutual enjoyment requires two people, not one.
Just Focus On Their Happiness?
This question follows on from the last one. If relationships are meant to be fulfilling and enjoyable, then they should make us happy.
There are hard times and low points, but overall we should be happy.
If we’re just making sure they are happy all the time and finding that we are sad, miserable and disappointed, then what’s the point? Dating takes hard work, but this needs to be a two-way street, where mutual effort and hard work is put in.
If we’re in a bad cycle, where we’re forgetting our own happiness and enjoyment, we may be putting too much emphasis on the romantic bubble, rather than on our individual well being.
We need to invest in other areas of our lives
Spend All Out Time Together?
Some of the above concerns may be due to the fact that couples spend all of their time together. Spending time apart is crucial.
We need to invest in other areas of our lives, otherwise, as said already, the relationship will become too strained. (Read I Can’t Come Out, I’m With My Girlfriend, Again!)
Imagine if our dating relationships were able to grow healthily and in the right way. So many problems I help people through come from falling into a trap which weakens the relationship without us even realising it.
Part 2 looks at how to build good a relationship together. But we need to remember that a relationship needs to be about two individual people building something together, we cannot lose sight of each other’s individual value, needs, or wider pursuits.
Do you think there are more traps to avoid? Comments welcome below
Originally posted 22/7/2019