Relationship Week–Your Relationship With You


Last night, after the thrilling conclusion to an exciting Super Bowl, a few friends and I congregated in the kitchen and the conversation quickly focused on relationships. Two women, two men. All twenty something years old. Our discussion was comedic, therapeutic, and most importantly informative.

There is restaurant week. There is Broadway week. There is a Islamic Art Week at the Met. So this week will be “Relationship Week.” While Snoop Dog believes that the game is be sold, not told, I will share what I have learned about relationships for free.

Sidenote: Life is a tough teacher because you get the test first, and then the lesson. And trust, I have failed the test and missed the lesson and then failed the same test numerous times.

What qualifies me? Excellent question! I am not an expert. I just told y’all I failed a plethora of tests and missed many lessons. Some might argue that as a single guy, I am not “qualified” to give relationship advice. I agree!  I am not here to give advice; this is not an advice column. Rather I would like to engage in a conversation with my readers about relationships. Each day, I will share an idea or thought, and I hope, as with all my writing, to spark a thought. I hope that we can have a discussion in the comment section, but that part is completely controlled by you all, the readers. On Friday, I would like my post my answers to a few questions from readers that I (hopefully) receive during  “Relationship Week”

Your Relationship With You

The most important relationship that you will ever have in your life is the one that you have with yourself. Yes, your relationship with your spouse or partner, your parent(s), your friends and family are important, but they all pale in comparison to the one that you have with yourself. Aside from being the most important, the relationship you have with yourself is also the most difficult. When I look in the mirror, I have a difficult time looking at myself without finding some thing “wrong” with my body or some thing I would change. I struggle with self-acceptance. I lie to myself. I criticize myself relentlessly. All of that activity involves me. I constantly and consistently work to improve my relationship with me everyday; I am learning how to love myself daily.

Thus, when you enter a relationship with someone else, there are actually three relationships happening simultaneously: the one you have with yourself, the one your partner has with himself/herself, and then the one that you two are trying to forge with each other. I already have a hard time managing my relationship, and then I complicate it even more with a new relationship with someone who is already involved in their own, more than likely difficult, relationship. And the interesting (and sometimes frustrating) part about that relationship is that I am not privy to its ups and downs, unless it spills over into our relationship, which often has a negative affect.

Of these three relationships, the only one that you have total control over is the one that you have with you. Last night, my friend quipped that her relationship life was in shambles. And I seemingly cold-hardheartedly stated that I felt no sympathy for her because she is ultimately in control of her life; I do not believe that one should look to others to make one happy. Your happiness is dependent on you!

People mistakenly think that they can change their partner. I can change him. You can’t! That person will not change, until that person wants to change and decides on their own to change.

People mistakenly think that they can control the relationship. You can’t! That relationship is the product of you both.

As a result, I am a firm believer that if you want to have a healthy relationship with someone else, you first have to have a healthy relationship with yourself. Before anyone can like or love you, you have to like and love yourself. I have learned that people treat you the way that they witness you treat yourself.

Do you agree? Are relationships manifestations of your relationship with you? Do you like/love you? If not, what are you doing to do so?


4 thoughts on “Relationship Week–Your Relationship With You

  1. I do agree that both parties need to have healthy relationships with themselves in order to have a healthy relationship with another person. However, I think that is most important when beginning a relationship, because how that relationship develops can be affected upon the individuals view of themselves and view of relationships in general.
    As far as changing the person, I do not think you can totally change a person- they do have to be ready to and willing to change. However, a partner’s actions can influence these changes and determine how the relationship will be. A significant/large change does not usually occur from just waking up one morning and deciding to become a completely difference person. It happens from life events that influences your view on your action. And sometimes your partner is a part of these events that help you grow as a person and change. Two people who have healthy relationships with themselves does not guarantee a relationship together and most relationships involve both individuals growing together and learning along the way how to be in a relationship. There are certain personality traits that can’t be changed, but I don’t think every person can say they haven’t at all their whole life! And I doubt you’ll find someone who said how they have changed was never, ever influenced by another person. Most often it’s usually from how they were treated once, or just past experiences that make a person want to change themselves. And in some of those times it’s a partner who demands something from that person that makes them what to be better at it so that they can make the relationship work.
    In addition, you can control a relationship in part. You can control what is and isn’t acceptable in a relationship by defining what you expect out of that relationship. You may not be able to control the other person’s actions but you can control what is “allowed”, for lack of better word, in your relationship. This can go hand and hand with how healthy your relationship is with yourself but doesn’t have to. Sometimes people just have different views of what they want in a relationship. And while you can control whether you stay in a relationship or not, you can’t always control your feelings. If a relationship takes a turn and someone gets hurt, that does not mean the person is looking for happiness in other people if he/she becomes upset due to the events or failure of the relationship. If your partner’s actions never emotionally affect you whatsoever, including never making you happy or sad, then you did not give yourself completely to that relationship. That is not a real “relationship” to me. You have to be emotionally invested in the relationship in order for it to be a relationship. Otherwise, what is the difference between a relationship and a friendship? Actually, even with friends you tend to have different emotions with them. If we were not happy around friends why would we spend time with them or speak to them? So while you may not specifically look to others to create happiness in your life, a partner and/friends usually bring that. That’s partly why you enjoy having them in your life. So it is for some of that happiness to go away if the partner or that relationship changes for the worse. That does not necessarily mean the person is looking for happiness in other people. It could just be disappointment or sadness in the particular situation. So I don’t think you can always have control of your relationship or blame the failure of your relationship on yourself. I don’t know why your friend’s relationship was in shambles but you cannot say she has her life in control so her relationship should not be in shambles. And since you said that people cannot control other people’s relationship with themselves or together as a couple, then you should understand how unexpected things happen can you cannot completely control the other person and how your relationship is.

    So it doesn’t make sense to me how you said that the only relationship she has complete control of is the one with herself and so you don’t have sympathy for her that her relationship is not working. So you would have sympathy if she had complete control of the relationship with her boyfriend/girlfriend and it failed? To me that is the opposite because if you fail at what you have total control of, then you can only blame yourself. But what in life do we really have total control of? Answer that one 🙂

    • Wow! Thanks for the comment; I’ll try to address it as best as I can. I definitely acknowledge that people can change and often do change because of experiences and other people. I was speaking to the many women and men who forcefully say, “I can change this person” and the truth is that they cannot. They are lying to themselves if they think they can. At the end of the day, the change needs to be initiated and more importantly welcomed by the person. I also agree with your thoughts about emotions. The worse feeling that one can have in a relationship is indifference. Thus, you need to have emotions, whether positive or negatives, to move you along the relationship. My biggest disagreement with you comes with the idea of “what one wants” and my lack of sympathy. I find that many people tend to stay in relationships in which they are not happy and then complain about it. If you are not happy or if you are not getting “what you want” from the other person, then you have the decision to either stay or leave. If you decide to stay, then understand what kind of relationship you are resigning yourself. If you decide to leave, then understand what that decision means. The old adage of “you make your bed and now must lie in it” comes to mind. I find that people are uncomfortable with holding themselves accountable for their situations. That is not to take away the role that others play, but I am a firm believer that you always a have a choice. So my friend, to whom I said the seemingly unsympathetic comment, like anyone else has a choice.

    • I think this was a great introduction about what people really need to start investing time in: the relationship with self or what I will call self image. It’s an interesting issue that I believe that manifests itself differently in different people.

      In some, a negative self image leads them to be emotionally distant in relationships because they fear by opening up they will they will be viewed as “inadequate” thus confirming the issue or flaw that they admonish in themselves. Others it tends to do the opposite, and those people actively seek to be in a relationship/seek acknowledgement (what they call on the street as “being open” =P) to validate a diminished self image to the point where the concept of being in a relationship far outweighs the exceedingly high personal cost they endure to stay in that relationship. The latter is what the author described “as having no sympathy for” with his friends relationship woes. Though I agree with anonymous that regardless of whether or not she had a good or bad self image shouldn’t command sympathy from the author, I do agree and understand the authors frustration with the lack of agency that his friend expresses in her own relationship life. Both of which, however, though different in action, stem from the same issue: a lack of agency in addressing the issues underlying their own negative self image.

      In discussing negative self image, I don’t think to have a positive self image means to think that one is without flaw. Rather, a positive self image is the acceptance of those flaws. Thus, those with positive self image are open to change, because changing self isn’t synonymous with the rejection of self as with those with a more negative self image. In addition, relationships are not valued to the point of self deprecation because validation from others is not required since that validation is already met by self. Thus, those with a positive relationship with self when in relationships are more open to change and better suited to adapt to issues and changes in their interpersonal relationships and are more ready to leave because the standards are already met by self.

      What I find interesting is the fact that everyone is looking for happiness in relationships when they’re not happy with themselves. How is it that you can seek happiness from someone else when you can’t make yourself happy? It would be analogous to expecting to have amazing sex with someone and have never masturbated in life. Crazy right? Happens all the time (#facts). Thus, the irony of it. The relationship with self is neglected while the interpersonal relationship is over emphasized in order to validate the neglected self. Hence why those in this type of relationship always emphasize the need to (or at least hope to have the ability to) change the other person when it is they do not validate what should have been validated by themselves.

      I say all these things from experience and I am far from perfect. Love, like happiness is a choice and ultimately is comes from within. If we all took a little bit more responsibility for the choices we make, each of us could be a little bit more happy with ourselves and ultimately someone else.

      • Wow! I am impressed with your breakdown of how a negative self image can manifest itself differently in relationships. I also agree with you about the acceptance of one’s flaws; it is difficult to do so in our American society because the impetus is always on improving our weaknesses, and not strengthening our strengths. And if we changed the perspective with which we look at ourselves, we would change the value we place on ourselves as well. Oh, and thank you for bringing up the masturbation issue; I wanted to include that analogy in the original post.

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