I was talking to a close friend last month.
It was one of those rare heart-to-heart conversations where I ended up spilling what was really going on.
The topic came to relationships and how I struggle with them even after turning 30.
At one point, I said, “You know I don’t really like myself. Perhaps once I begin to do so, I will automatically get ready for a healthy relationship.”
It surprised me a bit. I had never acknowledged this lack of self-love out loud in such honesty.
But deep inside I do carry this belief that I’ve so much to improve upon and there are so many flaws in me.
How can I be with someone without sorting my internal mess first?
This has been a predominant narrative in my psyche when it comes to thinking about relationships. I doubt it eventually manifests in my ability to attract, form or sustain healthy romantic relationships.
Self-improvement for healthy relationships
I believe that relationships are not an excuse to fill a void you feel within yourself.
It is not healthy to rely on someone else for your happiness. I have seen people who get into a relationship with the expectation that it’d finally make them happy. The result is often the opposite.
I have always been wary of getting into a relationship because of these reasons. This is also why I am skeptical about arranged marriages as well.
Because most of the marriages I see happen these days due to the pressure of society and because you feel “the need” for a companion or a partner.
The premise of any healthy relationship cannot be a ‘need’ for the other. It needs to come from genuine love and desire to be with each other while supporting mutual growth as partners.
This is why I feel the need to prioritize getting my shit together first, discover a purpose that gives meaning and happiness to my life, and then find a partner with whom I can share this life.
What if self-improvement becomes an excuse?
I have begun to realize that sometimes self-improvement projects can become never-ending.
Sometimes you are confused with the career. Sometimes you are too overweight to be liked by someone. Sometimes you don’t feel it is the right time as you want to ‘figure out life’.
It makes me wonder what if I am running away from something.
I fear that this focus on self-improvement has become a subconscious excuse for me to not be close to someone. This is because it requires being vulnerable and that demands courage.
An alternate approach?
What if I could see a relationship also as another opportunity to progress in life?
That does not mean I treat it as another project. (God I hope not! It should come under Areas as per the learnings from Building a Second Brain! :P)
What I primarily mean is learning the lessons in vulnerability and opening up your heart to develop a deep bond with someone you like.
I read somewhere that the relationship is also a spiritual assignment.
If it is a healthy relationship, it still makes you work on yourself. It demands insane courage and vulnerability with your partner to resolve conflicts in a healthy manner. You take responsibility for your emotions and feelings.
In a toxic relationship, it is reversed.
You put the blame on the other person and expect them to take responsibility for your emotions and make you feel good about yourself.
It is easy to stay alone and make yourself a project.
But, when you are with someone, it makes you come face to face with your inner fears and shadow side.
This becomes the biggest test of your spiritual progress.
What do you think?
Have you ever had a similar thought or conversation?
Share in the comments below!