There is a secret to relationship success that no one ever discusses. Many articles I have read and seen written fail to touch on this subject, but I think it is one of the essential ingredients to a successful and long-lasting relationship.
I’m not trying to fool you or give you some secret formula to relationship success. Because having a successful relationship consists of many factors. But, here is what I’ve observed and seen in happy couples. It is an ability to look beyond focusing entirely on their partner and putting the onus on them for their happiness and instead redirecting focus on something that is even more important to stay connected with one another.
I believe in compatibility and that it is crucial to a relationship thriving. And respect is important too. But, there is something even more critical to your relationship happiness which is often overlooked. It is the ability to be loyal to who you are as a person.
Let me explain what I mean. When it is all said and done, and I provide counsel to couples and individuals who see fissures developing in their relationship over time, what I have uncovered is that at some point and time in the relationship the individual suffering the most have stopped being true to who they are as a person.
They have stopped respecting and loving themselves. This person has stopped exhibiting loyalty to what matters to who they are and what makes them happy. It isn’t always apparent at first. In fact, it starts with little things which build to bigger things. It is not to say that there shouldn’t be sacrifices and compromises made in a relationship. It comes with the territory of being in any relationship.
But, what it means is that when those sacrifices come at the risk and loss of what is meaningful for you, your relationship is headed in the wrong direction. So, this is why it is vital when unlocking what leads to a happy relationship; you have to start with who you are first as a person. It means you have to take time to develop a deep understanding of what makes you tick. It includes knowing what makes you happy. And next, understanding what determines non-starters for you.
Strangely enough, while a relationship can add to your happiness, it cannot make you entirely happy. A relationship is whole when two whole people come into it with a full understanding of who they are as individuals and complement one another. It is often why relationship success gets better with maturity. When you understand your value, who you are and are, and are comfortable with yourself, it sets the foundation for a healthy and sustainable relationship.
I understand that there will be naysayers who say that they had met someone who had loved them when they didn’t love themselves. Or, that being with someone has made them better. And these things on some level can be true. Being in a relationship should help you become better, but someone loving you more than you love yourself is typically temporary and not sustainable. It’s too much pressure on one party in a relationship.
But, for a relationship to have longevity, you must have self-love which is a direct link to being loyal or true to yourself. If you don’t, then you are likely to continually being pushed in the direction of another person’s whims and expectations which can be counter to your own.
Loyalty might seem like simple semantics, but here are some ways you ways you can show loyalty to yourself right now:
1. Do what feels right for you. There are so many mixed messages out there about how you should look, date, love, what you need, who you should be, etc. The list is endless.
But, here is one thing that will never lead you down the right path. It’s the ability to cut out the noise and listen to your inner voice, gut, and feelings. Be practical and compassionate with yourself, but also realize that no one will ever know you as well as you know yourself. A great book to read if you want to delve deeper into getting in touch with yourself on a deeper level is this one.
2. When something feels off in a relationship, don’t ignore the signs. Dig deeper. Often when you aren’t loyal to yourself, you ignore the red flags. Again, referencing number one, our gut instinct is usually on point. But, if you want to do some additional research to see if what you are feeling is, in fact, real, do so. It’s ok to be more observant, and do the necessary research to confirm if something is off because this is also about being respectful of who you are and what you will tolerate in a relationship. Don’t go to the extremes. But, do what will provide you with some self-protection. By doing so, you are being loyal to who you are as a person and exercising self-respect.
3. Compromise is vital to a relationship. But, compromising to an extent where it damages how you feel emotionally, ignores what is important to you, and goes against your core values is entirely something different. If you are always the only one in a relationship who is making big sacrifices and your spouse or significant other (SO) isn’t, then that is lopsided and a lack of loyalty to you.
4. Understand what feeds you and leaves you feeling empty or starved is also a component of being loyal to yourself. Yes, there are two people in a relationship. And there is also a lot of give and take when two people are in a relationship with one another. But, understanding what you both need is critical to keeping balance in your relationship while also in being true to you.
If you get your energy from solitude, that is ok to take in quiet moments or have some downtime from your SO. If you become more energized by the company of others or by engaging in specific activities, that is alright too. There is a saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” The key and balance is understanding your needs and not being afraid to practice those things that help your mental well-being.
5. Take time for self-improvement and self-understanding. Being true to you, means you look for ways to improve who you are and be better as a human being. Reading self-help books, finding and being around those who motivate you and make you a better person, and asking for help is also attributable to being loyal to who you are as a person. No one can do it all on their own, even the strongest among us! Meditate, practice mindfulness, build your village of support, and do what you need to achieve needed balance in your life.
6. Be comfortable with you. Sometimes it’s easy to fret about what we aren’t, what we don’t have, and how your life could be better if you had one other thing, opportunity, or attribute. But, instead of focusing on what you feel you don’t have, focus instead on what you do have.
You have unique characteristics which make you are and being authentic to those characteristics is what makes you appealing and intriguing to others. Learning to love yourself not only makes you happier but is also a boost to your mental well-being. Self-compassion and being gentle with yourself is one of the most significant ways you exhibit loyalty to yourself.
7. Your loyalty to yourself gives others, including your SO, permission to be loyal or authentic to themselves too. There is empowerment in recognizing your weaknesses, failures, and shortcomings. It lets others know that no one is perfect and it is our imperfections and vulnerabilities that make us real and authentic. In being true to yourself, you give others space to do the same, and this is in itself one of the most powerful and loving things you can do for one another.
Being loyal to yourself isn’t about being egotistical. It’s a way of exercising self-expression and appreciation for who you are as a person. In doing so, you become a better partner in your relationship. Why? Because when you choose to honor yourself this, in turn, leads to your SO honoring you too.