Thursday, November 5, 2009

Relationships are about...

"Relationships are about knowing what to give up for each other and knowing what to hold onto for ourselves" (quote from One Tree Hill Season 6). The profoundness of this quote struck me as soon as I heard it, because I feel it illustrates one of the most difficult aspects of a relationship. Within my most recent relationship, I did not know what to hold onto for myself. I was too selfless and accommodating. At times I felt like Kirk didn't know what to give up for our relationship and had a tendency to be selfish. I realize that on the surface people may assume that I am saying Kirk is at fault for being selfish (because for the most part selfishness is seen as negative) and I was in the "right" because I was selfless (because this is viewed positively). However, this is not what I'm suggesting. I'm suggesting that he and I needed to learn from one another and I needed to learn what to hold onto for me and he needed to learn what to give up for us. According to this quote, each individual must know when they need to be selfless and when they need to be selfish. It is achieving this balance of selflessness and selfishness that allows the relationship to thrive.

As for myself, I am by nature too accommodating and selfless. It was much easier for me to just give in and constantly attend events with he and his friends because in part the alternative was to just stay in. He and his friends are VERY social. As a graduate student I don't really have the time to be so social (fortunately while we dated I was only taking two courses which enabled me to be more social than normal). I think even more importantly, by nature I am an introvert and am energized by being alone or in small groups, with one or two other people. This does not mean that I do not enjoy being social or going out with friends, and my friends can definitely attest to that. But it does mean that I am not energized by social activities among large groups of people (like most extroverts are). *NOTE: On the Myers-Briggs temperament type I am an ENFJ (extroverted, intuitive, feeling, judging) personality. I have learned to become more extroverted over time. However, initially when I took Myers-Briggs I was an INFJ. So by nature I am intoverted.* So constantly going out with he and his friends was exhausting and emotionally draining for me. I neglected my introverted nature and there were negative consequences of doing so. Often when we went out, Kirk and I would have a lot of fun through the night but I tended to pick insignificant tiffs at the end of the night. This really frustrated Kirk, and understandably so. During our relationship I was unsure why this happened. But upon reflection I think it was a result of me being emotionally drained. Going out every weekend and even sometimes both nights in a weekend was too much for me. It was contrary to my introverted nature. I didn't realize the importance of "holding onto" this for myself. And had I been better able to do so, I think our relationship would have benefited.

This is just one example of how my selflessness had a negative impact on our relationship. Had I been more aware and been more selfish, I would have realized I needed more low-key nights in and either chosen not to attend some events or asked Kirk to stay in with me instead of going out. (Probably a little of both would be reasonable). It is my hope that through this reflection, I will better know what to give up for the other person & our relationship and know what to hold onto for myself. I have learned that I sometimes need to be selfish, because contrary to popular belief, that is just as important to individual and couple well-being as being selfless. I have learned the importance of knowing what to hold onto for myself.


AngelaMae said...

Wow... reading your post really caused me to reflect on that part of my last relationship. It was the opposite though. I am by nature extroverted and he was not but I gave up that part of myself to be in with him and couldn't understand at the time why I still felt overwhelmingly lonely or frustrated... Thanks... good thought to have and new facet of myself to understand. :)

Alisha said...

It's definitely about balancing. Neither person should have to be the one constantly sacrificing, because ultimately that is going to cause problems in the relationship.

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