You don’t exactly start dating your significant other with the intention that you’ll lose yourself in the midst of your relationship — and yet, five months later, you look back and wonder just where your sense of self
ventured of to.
Like blenders, you mix the separate ingredients from each person into the bowl, all with his or her respective, much-needed taste, texture and value, and by the time you’re halfway through the puree cycle, you don’t know where his sense of adventure started and your dreams ended.
You do everything to keep the parts of you that you value most (like your girlfriends, your decision-making skills, your Me Time) tucked close to your side at the start of your relationship, scared that if you don’t keep them within arms reach, they’ll float away.
You don’t want to be the Girl Who Lost Herself, so you work overtime protecting the things that matter.
But then he starts leaving his dirty clothes at your apartment and asks you to dinner three days a week, you start meeting his friends, spending weekends without leaving bed and the things you were once so set on holding close have drifted off.
It hits you on a Saturday afternoon in July, when you’re watching reruns of “Game of Thrones” with the lights off and the bong lit. “When did I stop loving being outside?” you wonder.
After relationships that have failed, some that have succeeded and one that’s lasted longer than I’d ever imagined, I’ve learned that there’s a full handful of traits and treats that you should keep for yourself – and yourself alone. Your boyfriend might love Monday Night Raw, but that doesn’t make Wine Night any less valuable.
#1 Your Freedom
The Old Ball and Chain might be your favorite person to hang out with every day of the week, but spending time apart isn’t only healthy for your relationship – it’s necessary for keeping you free.
If you want to get up and go to yoga at six in the morning, do it; if you want to drop half of your paycheck at the Madewell sample sale, do it.
Remember that you’re inviting him into your life. If he has a problem with you spending too much or venturing out too early, talk about it, but don’t write-off your priorities strictly because they don’t jive with his.
#2 Your Sense of Adventure
My boyfriend and I take one trip together and then a few separately each year. It’s not that we don’t love spending time together (we do) or that we don’t want to experience new places together (we do), but reserving that time for ourselves, without worrying about hurting each other’s feelings, means two things:
Trips With the Girls and Trips With the Guys without our partner tagging along. There’s nothing wrong with wanting him there, so why should you feel guilty not wanting him there? Absence makes the heart grow fonder, y’all.
#3 Your Passions
If my boyfriend wanted to be an astronaut, I’d tell him to go for it, even if it meant a few huge setbacks for our relationship.
It’s his life, and personal satisfaction, no matter what anybody says, holds invaluable weight in a relationship. If we’re both happy with ourselves, then we’ll be happier with each other.
#4 Your Girls’ Night Schedule
Ask any girl in a committed relationship what one of her biggest challenges is and she’ll tell you staying committed to Girls’ Night.
It’s not that we don’t want to be there (we do), but after a long day at the office, it’s just so easy to curl up on the couch with our boyfriends and con them into watching hours of “Real Housewives” reruns. But here’s a tip, committed or not, you need your girls.
Those nights together remind you that the You BR (Before Relationship) is still alive and well. And if that wasn’t enough to sell you, 99 percent sure there will be cheese there. So go.
#5 Your ‘Me’ Time
One of the biggest fights my boyfriend and I still have after almost four years together is my need for Alone Time. I love being alone.
I’m a closet introvert hiding in an extrovert’s body, so that quiet, alone time I set aside for myself is literally the difference between life and death.
I throw on my sweats, take off my makeup, snap off my bra and dive head first into a bag of Tostitos and guac while I wait for my Seamless delivery (French fries and pizza with extra cheese, for those wondering) to arrive. If I’m feeling particularly feisty, I’ll even treat myself to a bottle of root beer.
#6 Your Sex Appeal
Newsflash, you’re still a woman. You’re still a beautiful woman and you deserve to look and feel every ounce as fabulous as you are.
Just because you are a Somebody to somebody else doesn’t mean you’ve forgone your right to wear dresses that hug your curves in all the right places and cleavage-baring tops that bring grown men to their knees. They can look, but they can’t touch.
#7 Your Male Friends
If your partner is that insecure about you having friends of a different sex, let’s talk about the bigger issue here: Why are you still with him?
You and your guy friends were friends before you started a relationship, so why on earth would things change now that you’re in one? It’s not like your guy friends see the committed you and suddenly want to do you 69 ways to Sunday.
#8 Your Vibrator
Let me ask you a question: Which came first, The Pleasure or The Partner? Don’t give up The Great for The Good (even if your man is pretty damn Good) – because on those nights he’s got to work late or when you’re treating yourself, you’re going to want it. Bonus points to your man if he wants to use it with you.
#9 Your Knowledge of What’s Best For You
Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you suddenly forget everything you’ve spent the last 25 years learning. You’re still the one – and only (okay, except for maybe your mom) – person who knows what’s the best thing for you at any given time.
You want to stay home to finish that book? Do it. You want to drop everything and move cross-country for the job of your dreams? Do it. You’re the only one who has to look in the mirror at the end of the day and like what you see.
#10 Your Wandering Eye
Ain’t no shame in the game, ladies! A little eye candy is fine (and once you admit that, you’ll feel much better about doing it), so don’t feel bullied into thinking that you’re doing something wrong. (Spoiler, you’re not. Chances are your guy is doing it too – and he never asked you for permission.)
#11 Your No-Shave Principles
Sorry, but winter is winter and that means I’m only going to shave my legs
when I absolutely have to, so get with it, or get over it.
#12 Your Family
My boyfriend and I had the opposite happen in our relationship (he spends way more time with my family than his) and after I really thought about it, I would give him hell if he ever asked me to skip brunch with my parents in order to spend more time with his.
Your family is made up of the people who literally made you. They’re the ones who stood by through that awful, awkward braces phase, that time you got that terrible bowl cut and the time you got kicked out of class for insulting the teacher.
They know you and love you anyway, which made it possible for someone else to do the same. Remember that.
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