Let me first start with a simple fact. I am an only child. When I tell people this, the stereotypical responses of spoiled and selfish are the first things people want to associate with me. Let me make this very clear, I am selfish…when it comes to food. And as for spoiled, I grew up with a grandfather who was raised during the Great Depression and therefore raised me as such.
But there is another common trait that us solo babies have. And that’s the strong desire to please other people. We take it on almost as a life or death challenge. For many, it’s a defense mechanism in order to protect ones self. For some, like me, it’s a wonderful way to feel validation. However, the people pleasers are sometimes the hardest and the worst when it comes to being in strong, healthy relationships. “Why” you ask?
Because we forget a cardinal rule when it comes to a partnership. Ready for your mind to be blown?
Sometimes, in a relationship…you have to be selfish, and put you FIRST.
Ok, so right now, hardcore people pleasers and only children around the world are freaking out at that statement. I get it! I’m almost shuddering at just writing it. But if I look really deep, like super duper deep in my past relationships, I very rarely put me first. And they all failed because I was so blinded by the idea of love, that I looked past my partners flaws, or because I put my emotions, desires and dreams aside for what I felt, was for the benefit of the relationship and the other person.
Here’s the thing about trying to keep the people pleaser mentality in a relationship. It never really works. You feel that what you are doing on the surface is being caring, compassionate, kind, strong and considerate for the other person. But what are you getting in return? And if you’re both people pleasers, I promise there are things you wish you could tell the other person, but you don’t. And you don’t because at least “they” are happy, and you feel that’s enough for you.
That’s not enough!
That’s a great start. But what if you can make sure your partners needs are addressed with just as much energy and passion as you would do if you took care of your own needs first? I go back to that first fact. When you meet someone who is an only child, you think they are selfish. But in their world, they are doing the one thing that is keeping them sane and helps them navigate the environment around them. They are protecting their interests by making sure that “self” is provided for, first. In theory, it is not selfish. It’s self preservation. A sibling allows you to bounce ideas, fun, tantrums, conspiracies off of each other. When it’s just you, you have to learn in very difficult ways, what is safe, fun, entertaining and most importantly, worth your time.
The emergence of the “Self Care” movement is one that I am huge fan of. But I think sometimes, we need to do the same in relationships. The next time you find you and your partner making big “WE” decisions, step back and ask yourself “Does this serve or help me in this relationship?” And answer that question honestly. Now, hear me out. I am not saying that this should be done with every decision in your relationship. There are for sure moments where you need and almost HAVE to put your partner, first. Areas of health, mental wellness, family, etc. However, in general, try to challenge yourself to ask what does that selfish little child in me need?
And don’t forget another crucial fact. Trying to please others before yourself, very rarely ever works. That whole “Love yourself, before you can love someone else” mumbo jumbo, is kind of rooted in fact. Simply put, it means: take care of those things that you love, the things that give YOU happiness and is deep in your truth, and you will in turn, find and have a partner who will work hard to make those things a reality for you.
Good luck, you selfish little brats!