Self-respect is essential for any healthy relationship. But when working with individuals in their search for love, I’m still always surprised to hear a common sentiment: “I need to focus on myself before I start dating.”
My surprise isn’t due to disapproval. I love that people have this feeling; it means they’re aware that real love starts within. But here’s the thing: dating doesn’t mean you aren’t focused on yourself.
The inherent problem in this sentiment is that many of us believe that dating or being in a relationship means we can’t retain who we are and what we want anymore. It’s as if we think a partner necessarily needs to take over our lives, and that they will preclude us from following our own path of self-growth.
But this is not what dating or relationships are about. At all. In fact, dating and being in relationships (even when they “fail”) invite us to learn a TON about ourselves … if we allow them to.
Relationships provide us a mirror to see what kinds of behaviors and habits we bring to the table. Becoming intimate and emotionally vulnerable in a relationship is an opportunity for every one of us to resolve unhealthy dynamics such as codependency from how we saw and experienced love early in our early development, and especially within our families …
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