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Relationships

How to Prioritize Yourself in a Relationship?

Learning how to prioritize yourself in a relationship can be tough.

“Self-love isn’t selfish.”

We are aware of how important it is to put ourselves first in a relationship. However, do we ever put effort into that very notion? Do your actions synchronize with your thoughts, or do you remain the last priority in your own life?

It’s pretty ironic— how humans would put everything and everyone on their list of priorities except themselves. It’s ironic because I have done it all my life. Every second of my life was spent taking care of others and making others happy at the expense of myself. 

…Until… until I was left with nothing but tiredness in my eyes and numbness in my heart…

“Be enough 

for yourself first

The rest of the world can wait.”

Remember, you can only aid others when you are happy from within. 

So, what does prioritizing ourselves mean in a relationship, and how can we manifest that without giving our partners the impression that they are any less important? In this article, we’ll uncover the worth of your own existence and how it makes all your relationships healthier.

Why is it important to prioritize yourself in a relationship?

It’s quite easy to get entangled in the routine of a relationship and forget yourself altogether. 

In the end, you get preoccupied with your house, career, spouse, relationship, and possibly children. However, being unable to take a little break for yourself can soon make every bit of life exhausting. 

It will drain you physically, mentally, and emotionally to an extent where every relationship or every effort would seem just not worth it. 

If you continue to give and give without recollecting anything for yourself— you will be left with an empty soul and nothing else. 

You can give your partner the best of you when you put yourself first. 

Prioritizing yourself will allow you the energy and happiness to yield it externally. 

You’ll be able to be more present in the relationship when you have more energy or happiness within. 

However, how do you put yourself first in a relationship? Let’s discuss “how” you can achieve that. 

How to prioritize yourself in a relationship?

It’s quite frankly upsetting to even think that people consider ‘prioritizing yourself’ as a selfish act. You are not selfish for prioritizing yourself in a relationship; you are only human. 

older woman enjoying herself with her headphones on

You deserve your own love, care, respect, and time. Without self-care and self-love, you would never be able to prioritize anyone or anything at all. 

Of course, your partner needs your attention and the utmost care, too, but it shouldn’t be given at the cost of staking yourself. 

Only keeping your partner’s needs and ideologies as your first priority and compromising yours while doing so can lead to bitterness in your relationship. You don’t want it, right? 

The following tips will help you maintain a balance between your me-time and the time for your partner. It will also help you balance equal love, care, and attention between the two of you. That’s the only way you can exist and maintain a loving relationship.

Here are 12 tips to help you prioritize yourself in a relationship

Add “No” to your vocabulary.

Saying ‘no’ to the things that don’t make you happy should be your first step into prioritizing yourself.

It is entirely okay to be a little insensitive for the sake of ourselves. Remember, you can only share happiness when you are happy from within. 

  • If you don’t want to do something, even if others expect it from you, learn to say no. 
  • Say ‘no’ to things that emotionally drain you. 
  • Say ‘no’ to your partner’s bad behavior or wrong choices, primarily if these choices concern you.  

People who don’t use “No” where needed will always compromise in the relationship. They would constantly be stressed about things they don’t want to do but still do for their partners. 

You have the power to reject the things you don’t find comfortable or convenient. Don’t feel guilty for saying no— if they love you, they will understand. 

If they don’t understand your decision, ensure that you explain your right to say ‘no’ in this relationship. Also, make your partner apprehend why you are against this decision/choice/action. 

If you don’t learn “how to say no,” you will forever suffer in the relationship. You will never be able to connect and communicate with your partner openly. 

Plan dates with your friends

Yes, the initial phase of your relationship will inevitably make you lose contact with reality whatsoever. The rainbows, frequent dopamine release, and the feeling of being loved will intoxicate you. Soon enough, you will lose touch with your friends and family. 

group of friends enjoying the beach

Various studies point out that we lose 2-3 friends on average when entering a new relationship. Those friends are an intrinsic part of your life— friends you cannot live without, friends you swore to spend a lifetime with. 

Amid your relationship and your partner, don’t forget your friends. They are just as equally important as your partner. 

  • Your only friends shouldn’t be your partner’s friends. No, you should have a life separate from your partner as well. Make sure you are hanging out with YOUR friends and not your partner’s common friends.
  • You shouldn’t compromise your friendship because of your partner. If you want to spend time with your friends, you should.
  • Don’t cancel your plans with your friends for your partner’s sake. If you love spending time with them, no one should have the power to stop you! 

Reconnect with them! 

Nurture this friendship that you once left behind for your partner. Plan a get-together or a date with your boys or girls! Go to a pub or their house to relive the old days and days that made you the happiest.

Your friends will knowingly or unknowingly connect you to your most authentic self— so don’t lose friends.  

Detach from your relationships for a while and connect with yourself. 

Sounds Greek, right? 

You have several roles to play, including those of a husband or wife, parent, responsible child, worker, and friend. You are no longer alone because you are spread across many ties and relationships.

You give your all in everything, yet you lose focus when it comes to taking care of yourself. I advise you to cut yourself free from all ties and spend some time alone.

Spend at least half an hour with yourself. You do you and let your partner be them. Relationships don’t always sail peacefully in the deep, gorgeous ocean; sometimes, there are storms. 

Your me-time can also aid in improving your current relationship with your partner and the one you share with yourself. 

You never know the power of me-time until you manifest it. It builds understanding and makes your bond stronger.

  • Invest time and do things you like doing alone, whatever it may be. 
  • Talk to yourself every day. 

Remember, you don’t have to spend every minute of your life with your partner to sustain the relationship. 

Know that your happiness is not your partner’s job— It’s your job.

We lose the true meaning of love and relationships because we are so engrossed in made-up fairy tales and some Netflix series! Ever wonder why so many relationships end in divorce? Don’t use Google to search! I’ll let you know!

Humans tend to depend on others for everything, whether it’s happiness, comfort, or strength.   

  • If we want to be happy, we look for a witty and funny companion.
  • If we want to be excited, we search for a slightly compelling partner. 
  • If we want love, we choose someone who loves us back.

We constantly try to find things we need in others, especially our partners. That’s how you lose touch with yourself. Everything you expect from the world (and your partner) is already within you. 

girl that is contemplating her life

You are solely responsible for your happiness; you cannot and shouldn’t expect it from your partner! We want our partner to uplift us when we are down every single time— as if it’s their duty. No bruh! 

Your life will have no independence if you constantly expect from your partner. To prioritize yourself, find and expect from yourself first. 

When you realize this, you will explore yourself a little more and move towards self-love and self-care. 

Your partner’s happiness is not your job.

Of course, it’s normal to expect from each other when in a relationship. However, it should come out naturally and not as a chore. Are you constantly dedicating your precious hours to uplift your partner’s mood, happiness, and mental health? 

It’s good when there’s a limit to it. However, it becomes suffocating when maintaining their mood becomes your life-long chore/responsibility. 

There’s a difference between supporting your partner when they are down and making it a personal responsibility to put them back up single-handedly. 

You will drain yourself in the attempt to make your partner happy. No, they should be happy on their own, and the same applies to you. 

Build barriers and boundaries

Restrictions with your partner? Yes! According to experts, healthy relationships hold several boundaries that encourage people to care for themselves. 

What makes you uncomfortable in the relationship? Have you ever talked about it with your partner? If not, it’s time that you maintain some boundaries with your partner. 

You can only succeed in a relationship when you maintain physical, emotional, sexual, and financial boundaries with your partner. You will lose your existence and individuality if the relationship has no limits. 

For instance, 

  • Sexual boundaries: Talk about the limitations you’d like in bed. If there’s something you don’t like when it comes to sex, let your partner know. 
  • Physical boundaries: Similarly, if you are uncomfortable spending all day with your partner, let them know and create better time management where you can allow personal space. 

If PDA makes you uncomfortable, create boundaries and ensure your partner knows about it. 

  • Emotional boundaries: This is especially necessary if you are dating someone dealing with anxiety and depression. Of course, you want to support them, but you are not their “anxiety dump.” 

Your emotions will drain when you constantly aid their depression. Ensure that you maintain a boundary for your own sake. 

Take a brief break from your everyday activities and talk to your partner about the boundaries you want to adhere to. It is a significant first step toward putting yourself first in a relationship.

You and your partner will experience an improvement in self-esteem and emotional stability after setting some boundaries.

Don’t shy away from being assertive.

Being assertive means speaking up for your rights and taking a stand for your perspective while maintaining a respectful attitude toward others, their opinions, and their beliefs. 

Being assertive in a relationship conveys that you value each other’s viewpoints. Many issues that may later cause major arguments can be clarified with assertiveness.

girl sitting at the cafe living her best life

You are not demanding for putting your opinion and judgment in the communication, but rather a person with a strong personality. 

Assertiveness eradicates confusion and miscommunication in the relationship— it helps you to surf towards the shore without losing your own identity. 

Remember, your partner’s opinion isn’t the end game and that your own opinion matters while making decisions.

To prioritize yourself, you and your partner must communicate your values, visions, and disagreements openly.

Ensure compromises are from both ways.

“Two flawed individuals who never give up make up a healthy relationship.”

Compromises are also crucial, I am aware of that, but it’s a red flag if you’re the only one making sacrifices!

  • Do you find yourself managing your schedule according to your partner’s timetable?
  • Do you listen to their advice like it’s a fact and don’t allow your perspective to evolve? 
  • Do you constantly find yourself agreeing to their terms and conditions without thinking about your terms and conditions twice?
  • Do you sacrifice your sleep to talk to them when they are free? 

If all your needs are thrown into the backseat consistently, and your partner’s requirements call shotgun each time, it will create resentment— your stressbuster will become a big headache in no time.

You don’t always need to compromise. Set your needs and priorities first, then speak out for them. You can push the issue to identify yourself as an individual in your relationship.

Know your worth 

Date yourself before you date others.” Respect, cherish, and worship yourself before you allow others the right to do so! 

You need to understand your value in the relationship and otherwise. Without valuing and respecting yourself, you’d never be able to prioritize yourself. 

 You are equal in every inch of your partner.

You should acknowledge that and should be treated with respect and love. It’s not just your partner who should treat you well; you should treat yourself like you are the most precious diamond of your life. 

If you don’t idolize your worth, no one will! When you prioritize yourself, you will become healthier emotionally. Eventually, this self-worth, self-love, and self-care will drive you towards a healthier relationship.

Communicate with your partner

So, we have already covered why it is crucial to be assertive in a relationship and have briefly touched on the need for transparency. 

Assertiveness is just the tip of the iceberg—being assertive is a form of communication.

Speaking openly about your needs, goals, and thoughts with your partner will also allow you the space to explore your own individuality in the relationship.

Being honest and maintaining clarity in your relationship builds a behavior of trust. Thus it works as a booster for prioritizing our ideas and things. 

Communicating about boundaries, issues, or other vital aspects you want in (or out of) a relationship will foster a bond. 

You can’t read your partner’s mind and vice versa. That is why discussing everything and anything will effectively help you focus on your priorities, the relationship you share with your partner, and yourself separately.

invest in yourself while you're in a relationship

Invest in your passion

Many people start dressing, talking, and even acting differently when they get into a relationship. Losing yourself is the greatest loss one can ever encounter— so find yourself back in this relationship!

I know you wanted to go on a trip with your lover and try weird and exciting activities together. However, is it the only thing you are doing in your life? 

Where do you stand in your life? Is there something you do for yourself away from your partner? Do you allow yourself time to follow your passion, or do your goals miserably revolve around your partner’s goals?

Doing everything together with your partner is a sign of unhealthy behavior.

It will only give you momentary happiness, so you must invest time in your passion. Doing the things ALONE that can make YOU happy is a way of prioritizing yourself in a relationship. 

Driving back to follow your hobbies will help you heal from that burden, and you will also find the missing puzzle pieces of your life in the process. 

Don’t overuse “we” when you can use “I.”

Your relationship status has changed to “Committed.” You share cute stories on Instagram, and your snaps are now about gardens, movies, foods, or holding hands. 

“We” has been promoted publically, and it’s cute, I know. However, if that “we” doesn’t allow any space for “I,”— it will soon become toxic. 

Too much of anything is never healthy or beneficial— overusing “we” will soon tire you down. 

It may seem like a “couple goal” initially, but it will soon rid you of whatsoever individuality.

  • Instead of saying, “We like this place,” 
  • Say, “I like this place.”
  • Don’t: “We will go to the Himalayas together. My boyfriend wants to accompany me.”
  • Do: “I want to go to the Himalayas on a solo trip.”
  • Don’t: “We spend every day together.”
  • Do: “I want to have some alone time with myself.”
  • Don’t: “We are inseparable.”
  • Do: “I do need space from time to time.”
  • Don’t: “We are great parents.”
  • Do: “I’m a great parent.”
  • Don’t: “We did this together; we are a team.”
  • Do: “I spent more time and hard work to finish this project.”
brains thinking together

Cut the codependency & start working on yourself.

If you think your relationship is dealing with extreme codependency— be on high alert.

In a relationship, codependency is a significant warning sign. It indicates that you don’t view yourself as a whole and don’t fully embrace or love yourself. You require someone to adore you, pay attention, or inspire you.

I understand you grow immensely as a couple, but what about individualism? Work on those aspects of yourself that you believe need improvement. It’s time that you start journaling your elements and looking for the things you want to try. 

Take on new challenges for yourself. Imagine yourself and your partner as two pillars; if one breaks, would the other still be able to support the bond’s ceiling? Plus, it will only make you less of a priority. 

Similarly, don’t allow your partner to depend entirely on you. 

Quotes About Self-love and why it’s not selfish to prioritize yourself.

To give you a little kickstart, here are some quotes that you should read that will inspire you to prioritize yourself in a relationship.

  1. “It’s not selfish, but selfless to be first, to be as good as possible to you, to take care of you, to keep you whole and healthy, that doesn’t mean that you disregard everything and everyone, but you gotta keep your cup full.” —​Iyanla Vanzant.
  1. “One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.” — Shannon L. Alder.
  1. “A man cannot be comfortable without his approval.” — Mark Twain.
  1. “You have to be self-interested to be selfless. You have to put yourself first if you want to be of use to other people.” —​ Rachel Bartholomew.
  1. “To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.” — Robert Morley.
  1. “If you want to have enough to give to others, you will need to take care of yourself first. A tree that refuses water and sunlight for itself can’t bear fruit for others.” —​ Emily Martian.
  1. “When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.” —​ Oprah Winfrey.
  1. “We just need to be kinder to ourselves. If we treated ourselves the way we treated our best friend, can you imagine how much better off we would be?” — Meghan Markle.
  1. “Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” —​Eleanor Brown.

“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.” —Rupi Kaur.

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by Genesis Gutierrez

Genesis is the founder of Harness Magazine, a digital media company that celebrates and elevates the voices of women around the world. A first-generation college graduate, Genesis holds a degree in from UCLA with hopes of going back for a Masters in Social Work.

Through her work as an editor-in-chief of Harness, Genesis has dedicated herself to amplifying the stories of women specifically marginalized communities. She is committed to creating space for those who are often left out of mainstream conversations, and believes that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have for building community and sparking social change.


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