While compromise is necessary to make a relationship work, it’s important not to compromise everything about yourself. The best relationships nurture the individual as well as the couple. No matter how crazy you are about a guy, here are five things you should never give up on.
Opposites attract, so it’s a good bet there are things you like to do that he doesn’t. While you both should try to appreciate each other’s hobbies, he’s not necessarily going to be interested in sharing your love of homemade pottery or subtitled foreign films. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on the things you love, and you don’t have to force him to participate in activities he really won’t enjoy. Let him have his poker night while you take your mom to the ballet, or go with your girl friends to scream like teenagers at the latest boy band’s concert.
You need to cultivate your own knowledge and experiences, so you stay the smart and interesting gal he fell in love with. Having a night apart also keeps things fresh in a relationship. If you’re always together, you know everything that’s happening in their life, and pretty soon you’re going to run out of conversation. Maintain your individuality, and your partnership will be stronger too.
When you’re in the exciting, romantic first stages of a relationship, it’s easy to forget that anyone else exists. There’s nothing wrong with spending a lot of time with your new guy, but keep a few dates open for family and friends. No one person can fill all of your needs for attention, conversation, and support. To prevent unattainable expectations and the resulting strain on the relationship, you have to spend time with other people that care about you.
These outside contacts also help keep you grounded, which is especially important if they catch something wrong in your relationship that you might be blinded to. A little self-imposed exile to enjoy your boyfriend’s company exclusively can be fun, but make sure he’s not the one exiling you. Any guy that consistently wants to keep you away from your other loved ones has control issues, and that kind of domineering and jealous behavior can lead to places you don’t want to go.
Once you start living together, your space becomes community space. You share a bedroom, maybe a bathroom or closet. To prevent losing your identity or feeling smothered, you need to maintain some personal space. It can be an office, craft room or your own desk tucked into the corner of your shared studio apartment. You need someplace to keep the stuff that’s all your own, whether it’s your genealogy project, old love letters or an autographed picture of Orlando Bloom.
Particularly when you live in a small space, it’s good to leave each other alone once in awhile. Put in a little overtime at work so he has an hour to himself before you come home. Get Saturday morning to yourself while he takes his parents to breakfast. Everyone needs that personal time at home so you can lip sync to your favorite tunes, watch embarrassingly bad reality TV, or stumble through that new exercise video without worrying what you like like doing it.
Don’t be the girl that changes political affiliations the moment she gets a boyfriend with different views, or suddenly starts every sentence with “We think,” and really means, “My boyfriend thinks.” Being in a relationship does not mean you have to turn off your brain. While it’s great to be in harmony, especially on important issues that affect how you’ll live your lives together, it’s not necessary to be of one mind about everything. Liking a different baseball team, or preferring traditional furniture to modern is not going to break up your relationship.
Keep your own opinions and your self-respect. If you learn something new from your guy and change your mind, that’s great; you’ll teach him a few things, too. Watch out, though, if your boyfriend can’t handle any disagreements and thinks his word is law. That’s another warning sign for a control freak, and it’s time for you to look for a new boyfriend that appreciates a woman who can think for herself.
No, this does not mean throwing yourself at every guy you see while your boyfriend is standing right there. It’s way more subtle, like the way you and your friends tease the cute waiter at lunch, or that little extra sway to your walk when you know your hot boss is watching you. It’s just a little fun that keeps life interesting. So go ahead and smile at the guy who just walked into a post because he was looking at you and not where he was going. Indulge in a few innuendos with your guy friends, as long as everyone knows it’s just harmless flirtation. Being in a relationship does not mean becoming a nun, and knowing you’re still a sexy woman makes you confident and all the more appealing to your man.
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