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Relationships: Know What You Want and Need

Relationships: Know What You Want and Need

When entering into or maintaining a long time relationship it may be difficult to see whether that person is actually what we want or need in our lives. Here, Ariel Hairston of Tiny Buddha shares her journey to finding someone who is a loving addition to her life, by discovering what she deserves and requires from the person she’s with:

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” ~Brené Brown

I recently left a relationship that I was not happy in. Although my ex was definitely an unconditional lover, it painfully bothered me that the man I loved was not taking care of his responsibilities.

Since I’ve entered my twenties, I’ve been looking for more than just a good time; I need a stable partner who will be able to meet our shared expenses and obligations in the future. So, I was faced with the crucial, inevitable decision of calling it quits.

I cried the first few nights, but every night after was a learning experience. I realized that no matter how much he loved me, I needed more from the relationship than he could give.

While I was still in it, he kept telling me that I made the entire relationship about me, saying, “You are only worried about your happiness. What about mine?”

Although he was right about his happiness being important, I realized something: my happiness is just as important, and I cannot—and should not have to—sacrifice mine for his.

Half of a couple can’t be happy while the other half is miserable. If neither is happy, then the relationship is already over.

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A few weeks after the big break, I began asking myself what I wanted out of a relationship. Who am I?What do I need?

I wrote down a list of my nice-to-haves and my non-negotiables. This allowed me to see my past relationship for what it was: not what I really wanted. And thus, I experienced little pain and was able to move on gracefully.

Don’t get me wrong, I felt incredibly terrible for breaking his heart. I have always been the one to break things off, but I wasn’t so sure if I ever broke a guy’s heart until the day I broke his.

But I had to learn to forgive myself because I knew the relationship wouldn’t last. And it was better to break his heart now than to stay in it for far too long and inescapably break it later.

He eventually told me I was his only source of happiness, but just as you shouldn’t sacrifice your own happiness, you shouldn’t be responsible for another’s happiness either.

Happiness should come from within. If you have it before you enter the relationship, once ties are severed and the mourning phase is over, you will surely have it again.

The greatest lesson I learned is that you have to know what you want before the relationship starts.

When people say, “I don’t know what I want, but when I see it, I’ll know,” they are usually the ones who stick around in a relationship longer than necessary because they weren’t sure of what they wanted from the beginning. This causes unnecessary trial and error and a lot more pain.

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It doesn’t take long to ask yourself what it is you desire and write it down. You may not know for certain right away, but you should at least have a rough idea. Getting to know yourself better can help with this.

Dating can also help refine your list, but making a serious commitment before really understanding your requirements in a relationship can be detrimental.

Typically when we go into a relationship without truly understanding our requirements, we end up trying to change our partner, which never ends well.

A loving relationship is meant to be the reward of knowing what you wanted and receiving it. Getting into a relationship in order to figure out what you want is backwards.

Ask yourself what it is you appreciate in a partner. What will cause you to write off a potential partner (perhaps not having the same goals and dreams)? This is important because if we don’t determine what we will and will not accept, we end up accepting anything.

But even more importantly, don’t forget about yourself. Get to know your own personal likes and dislikes. This is the one time where everything can be about what you want.

When we’re in a relationship, we’re always so busy trying to learn about another person’s wants, needs, goals, and aspirations that we oftentimes forget about our own.

During this time you don’t have to ask anyone for affirmation. All of your decisions are your own. No one can tell you who to be.

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And while in a relationship, you still have to remember that you complete yourself. The man or woman you’re with does not define who you are, and you do not need him or her to be complete. Your self-esteem should not begin or end with how that person feels about you.

Be willing to give the person you love the shirt off your back, but your self-worth? Never give them that.

You have to honestly know that you will be happy with or without them. This little piece of knowledge makes it easier for you to leave a relationship that causes you anguish, and find one that better serves you.

That’s not to say that relationships are perfect and no one will ever hurt you; that’s certainly not the case. Every person will come with his or her own flaws, and every relationship will require a little work. You just have to know what you’re willing to work through and what you’re not.

Some words of advice my wise mother once gave me: you are the prize. How big of a prize you’re worth winning is defined by how much you love and respect yourself. You determine how much you are worth. Nobody else.

Sometimes love can turn into a battle that we want to win but can’t. Many relationships aren’t meant to be. That doesn’t make it your fault, and it doesn’t make it the other person’s fault; it just makes it life.

Whatever the case, you should never sacrifice your dignity at the expense of a futile relationship.

As for me, I couldn’t wait for him to be who I needed him to be. And I couldn’t change him either. I had to do what was best for me and for him as well.

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If it were meant to be, it would’ve been right from the beginning.

I just have to go out into the world and find someone who better suits me. In the meantime, I am discovering a lot about myself, things I would’ve probably never known otherwise.

You must never get so caught up in your other half’s happiness that you forget about your own, and what matters most to you.

By the time I get into my next relationship, I will have better clarity of what I want and what I need.

But for right now, I am the love of my life. I am hoping that eventually I can share my love and happiness with another being, and he can share his with me.

Romance does not only consist of loving another, but also finding it easy to love oneself in the process. And I have to remind myself to never lose sight of that self-love.

Ariel Hairston is a college student at Valdosta State University in Georgia and aspires to become a professional writer. She enjoys exercise, yoga, and putting smiles on people’s faces. Follow her @uhhangel on twitter and add her on Facebook.

Finding a Good Match: Know What You Want and Need in a Relationship | Tiny Buddha

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Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

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