Don’t Squeeze Yourself Into a Relationship

It can be just as tempting to squeeze yourself into a man’s mold for you as it is to squeeze yourself into the latest fall fashions. Okay, maybe it’s more tempting! Hold your ground, though. Let relationships—and clothes—enhance who you are, rather than try to change who you are.

If you love to wiggle your toes, don’t get all cramped up in pointed boots; and whatever you do, don’t stifle your magic with his constraints. Maybe it doesn’t sound like something you’d do. You’re an independent woman of the world, right? That doesn’t mean you don’t act like a puppy dog in a relationship! You have, probably within the last week, feigned pleasure in something, rather than disappoint him … and if that seems harmless, imagine the burden of keeping up a façade for the rest of your life.

You might not even realize you do it; but remember when you really wanted a salad and ended up fixing burgers? Or maybe you were so ready to get a good night’s sleep when you accommodated his sexual move instead. Or maybe you watch movies you find shallow, walk when you feel like skipping, wait for him to say, “I love you,” or bite your tongue during still another vacation with the in-laws.

Starting to see yourself as a little less independent? Think about who you are when you’re not in a relationship, or who you would be if you hadn’t been married for so much of your life. What are you going without because you thought you had to sacrifice it for a relationship? And what are you disappointed … or angry … or bitter about giving up?

Maybe that question helps to paint a poignant picture of how it doesn’t serve you—or anybody else—to lose who you are to a relationship. When you don’t feel good about yourself, you make it difficult for anybody else to feel good about you; and that can lead to, “God, I can’t believe you’re so ungrateful—I gave up everything for you!” Granted, you probably don’t say it out loud very often; but you don’t have to for people to know what you’re feeling.

With every interaction with your sweetheart, you choose to be you or somebody else, maybe somebody you think he wants you to be. And if you’ve been squeezing yourself into a mold for a long time, you may be choosing unconsciously. Stop choosing by default, or habit, and choose consciously—to eat mangos naked, to watch a movie that feeds your spirit, to do cartwheels, to say, “I love you!”

When your partner asks where you want to go to dinner, stop and think about what feels good to you. As obvious as that sounds, maybe you defer to him without even realizing it … because he’s paying, because he worked all day, or because you just want to make him happy. By now we’ve all learned that we can’t really make somebody else happy, right? But that doesn’t stop us from trying. It doesn’t break old habits.

As you make yourself happy by being true to yourself, you demonstrate for him how he, too, can take responsibility for his own happiness. How liberating is that!

Wear what you feel good wearing, regardless of the trends; be who you are, regardless of his mold. You’ll look and feel better than you ever have—to both of you!

Author's Bio: 

Jan Denise is a self-esteem and relationships consultant, the author of Innately Good: Dispelling the Myth That You’re Not (Health Communications) and Naked Relationships: Sharing Your Authentic Self to Find the Partner of Your Dreams (Hampton Roads), and the columnist who penned the nationally syndicated “Inside Relationships” for ten years. Denise conducts workshops, speaks professionally, serves on the faculty of Omega Institute, and consults with individuals and couples nationwide. She is silly and deeply in love with life and her husband Sam Ferguson. They live in McIntosh, Florida, where their home in the woods is open to others as a sanctuary and retreat center.