4 Self-Centered Habits to Abandon If You Want a Fulfilling Serious Relationship
The shift from single to taken requires effort
I’d been single for four years before I met my current partner.
As much as I cherish having had all that time to myself because it ultimately turned me into the person I am today, it taught me self-centeredness which naturally caused some conflict — mostly inner — when I was faced with the reality of having a relationship.
Sharing is caring, they say. Well, it’s easy to care. Not so easy to share. Especially when you’re used to centring your whole life around yourself.
If you want to have a lasting and fulfilling relationship, these are some of the habits you might want to abandon.
Focusing solely on yourself
I love having lots of me-time. And don’t get me wrong, you definitely need this time to yourself in relationships for the sake of keeping your own independence and sanity.
The mindset shift that comes with a serious relationship isn’t just about spending time alone, though. It’s about your day-to-day life as well as where you invest your energy.
What you focus on determines what you care about.
For example, I’ve read much fewer books this year than the last four. I’d like to say it has nothing to do with my boyfriend to make it seem like he doesn’t take away from any of my activities, but that’d be a lie.
I read fewer books because I added lots of relationship-connected activities in my life. Cuddling, talking, watching films together and having sex, to name a few. These things take time, people. Before you even know it, it’s 10 pm and you’ve spent the whole day eating take-out and melting into each other’s flesh so much that you’re basically joined at the hip.
The point is, these things are worth it, especially at the beginning of a relationship. They’re memories you’ll cherish and experiences that make you feel fulfilled.
Having a productive daily routine is amazing, but cultivating beautiful bonds with the people you care about is even better.
In a serious relationship, you’ll have to incorporate your other half into your daily life. You’ll spend time and energy on them, and it’s likely you’ll love doing that.
It will take some time to get used to this new reality and shift things around to make space for all the activities you want to keep doing. But you’ll get lots of cuddles in exchange, which sounds like a fair trade to me.
Refusing to adjust your systems and habits
Because of my limited budget (hello, student life), I used to have a strict system for grocery shopping. I knew which meals were easy and cheap to make, I knew how to save up money on my weekly shopping and I had systems for when I went shopping, how long the food would last me, how much I’d spend on it and so on.
This changed when I started living with my boyfriend.
I’m not going to lie to you, there were days when I got frustrated. There were also days when I was grateful for being able to plan my meals with him and split the cost, which luckily happened more often than not.
His idea of grocery shopping was very different from mine. He doesn’t mind going to the shop three times a week and planning only for two days, contrary to my system where I only shop once a week (and yes, I do always almost die from the weight of my shopping bags).
He also has a much healthier and more carefree attitude to money, which always made me bewildered as I watched him pick the more expensive bar of chocolate over the cheapest possible option that would, in my eyes, probably taste the same (although if we’re going to be honest with each other, it most likely wouldn’t).
Sometimes, I thought it’d be simpler if I just planned the meals and bought the ingredients myself. It was what I was used to doing. My little comfortable bubble of grocery shopping.
The thing is, you need to be able to evolve when you enter a serious relationship. There are things you’re used to doing that your partner does completely differently — and although they often accommodate you, you also have to adjust to some of their habits.
Relationships aren’t a one-way street. You always have to meet at the crossroads.
Get used to the idea of ditching some of your systems and forming new ones. As confusing as it was at first, I got used to shopping with my partner. Late-night sweets shopping became a habit I remember with fondness.
Especially since going to the shop was literally the highlight of our lockdown days.
…And being touchy-feely with others or initiating contact with someone you know for a fact you’re insanely attracted to.
There are, of course, exceptions. This one habit is very individual since every couple has their own boundaries. For example, I used to make out with my friends at parties quite a lot — it was drunken fun and it rarely led to anything more.
As soon as I got a boyfriend, though, I knew this was over. I was more than willing to make this sacrifice because when compared to the incredible happiness my partner brings into my life, kissing random friends actually isn’t too much of a sacrifice.
This applies to much subtler things too, though. People often tone down their flirting with others when they enter a serious relationship because even when this flirting doesn’t necessarily mean they want to sleep with someone else — it can be purely fun and harmless — it might still make their partner uncomfortable.
Respect is crucial. If your partner states some healthy boundaries, respect them — even when they’re not in the room with you and they might never find out if you broke the rules or not.
Just remember there’s a difference between setting some boundaries and emotional abuse — if your partner makes you feel small or worthless by ordering you to “stop wearing that revealing t-shirt” or to “stop talking to your male friends just because they’re male”, it’s definitely not okay.
Sticking to your own future plans
In my single years, I made up my mind about almost everything — the kind of house I’d live in, what animals I’d have, where I’d marry, what my husband would be like to the dot.
Well, then I realised I actually have to take my future husband’s view into account too. Oops. What a revelation that was.
Luckily, we agree on most things. You shouldn’t settle down for someone who wants the complete opposite of your dreams because you might end up being miserable — a life without a person you love is horrible, but so is a having a life you hate for the sake of the person you love. That love might eventually even turn to bitterness precisely because of the sacrifice you’ve made.
There are things you need to give up on, though. I’ve always wanted a house near the beach because I find the sea super calming (don’t even get me started on the wonderful sea air), however, my partner hates the beach. And also, you know, climate change and rising sea levels are a thing.
If you want a serious relationship with the person you love, you need to compromise on some things. Don’t let go of the ones that mean a lot to you, though — you might regret it later on.
Oh well. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get a holiday beach house. *wink*
Entering a serious relationship is almost like opening up a new chapter of your life. Even though I’ll always advocate for independence and having activities and friends of one’s own, there’s no denying that adding a partner to the picture changes your life a great deal.
When you live together, lots of your things are their things and vice versa. You do lots of planning and organising together, you dream of a future that includes both of you and you ultimately give a piece of yourself to them in exchange for their own.
And if you’re both kind to each other and have a deep respect for one another, this is a good thing. So let go of that self-centeredness a bit.
In love, there’s plenty of room for both of you.