In my relationship, I actively try to be a better person for my partner, every single day. Sometimes being “better” might mean that I get out of bed, or I don’t let the depression get the better of me. And other times, it means working on what’s causing me to be depressed in the first place, so I can give him what he needs. Easy, right? Well, not exactly. In this post, I want to explore how much of your focus should be on your partner. If we think about what this means, then, in theory, your partner is going to be focused on you the same amount of time that you are focused on them. But is it possible to focus too much on your partner?
The answer is yes. But what does that look like? Of course, for everyone, that’s slightly different, but we have to think about this like the “oxygen mask” scenario when we are on a plane. If you are drained or exhausted, you might not be able to give anything to your partner. Heck, you’re probably struggling to give yourself something in those moments. It’s no secret that I struggle with depression, and it’s during these times I wonder if it’s damaging my relationship? I am actively working on getting to the bottom of my issues so I can at least find ways to cope with them, but what happens to my partner when I can’t be there to focus on him?
I think the depression issue is a bit extreme, but it happens, nonetheless. What about scenarios where you just need to recharge after a long week at work? Is it ok to want to do something on your own, or is that neglecting your partner? Again, going back to the oxygen mask scenario – if you can’t look after yourself, you’re not going to be able to give anything to your partner.
It’s also good for you to do things on your own and to cultivate other relationships with your family and friends. In today’s society, I would argue that we expect one person to fulfill all of our social and emotional needs. In general, this can be dangerous, but it also sets a person up for disappointment. Going back to my scenario for a moment – can I expect my partner to always be there for me when I’m depressed? Is that draining for him? While he doesn’t say that, I would hazard a guess that it is. So is there anything that can be done?
I think that people need to cultivate their own relationships. For me, that sometimes means calling up a friend and letting everything out to her. Other times, that means going shopping with my mom and allowing myself to be “taken care of” in a way. And then other times, it means calling him up and listening to his silly jokes, because he always seems to know exactly what to say to make me feel better. But we can’t rely on our partners to be all of those things for us all of the time. And if we do, we are constantly going to be disappointed with both our relationships and our lives.