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Finding balance in my relationship: Rachel’s Story

Rachel, 19, explains why prioritising time for yourself when you’re in a relationship is essential. She shares how investing energy into self-growth has allowed both her and her relationship to flourish.

For years, society has told us that, as women, we exist only to please others. I decided that this narrative was not for me and earlier this year I began a new relationship: a relationship with myself. Having been in a romantic relationship with my partner for over five years, finding balance between myself and my partner is a top priority.

We each have our own lives outside of each other and that is so important. I found that I was the only person that could fulfil my own needs and that depending on someone else to meet your desires never works. Learning to rely on myself for my needs came in many different stages and in many different aspects of my life. It is something that is forever growing and evolving.

My boyfriend and I got together at age 14 and, at that time, I was conditioned by society to believe that he was to be my everything. I felt that I had to spend all my time with him and that he should satisfy my every wish.

As we grew together, we soon understood that this was not the way our relationship worked and we started implementing small changes in our everyday life to make sure we were living for ourselves and not just for each other. This started with letting each other know that we were not always available for each other, we had plans and hobbies that took up our time and that was okay. This has now expanded to adding at least 2 days into our weekly routine where we spend time completely apart from one another.

Setting boundaries has always been a staple for me in my relationship with myself, but I am only now coming to truly understand its importance. It means that I am taking pride in my limits and letting others know what they are. My partner and I spend limited time together as we implement days for ourselves and then for each other. Our motto – me first, us second.

During lockdown, as for a lot of couples, we were separated – leaving my partner and I unable to spend physical time together.

Although we did find ways to communicate, this gave me even more time for focus on myself and made me realise something: when you invest time and love in yourself – time that was once filed trying to satisfy another person’s needs – your self-growth will flourish.

I grew so much over lockdown, as listened to my own desires and started my sex positive Instagram account. This was a really big milestone for me in my relationship with myself, where I poured all my energy and love into something all for the benefit of others (and my own self growth!).

Just like my relationship, I deserve date nights and time allocated to spend with myself.

My favourite way to do this is by taking myself to a coffee shop, whether this be to chill, to work or to focus on myself. You need to practice this love in your life, telling yourself you are worthy of time and self-love. Going places on my own does make me nervous and sometimes embarrassed. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a journey to self-love and every time I do go out alone, I am one step closer to feeling more comfortable with taking myself on dates. Also, that those people I think are judging me really have no interest in me or what I’m doing!

My partner has always helped and supported me through everything. Having that boost from him has helped me understand that I am worth so much self-love and that I have the ability to reach all my aspirations in life. We have a relationship that benefits us both, and allows us to navigate our own individual lives while enjoying our love together.

Relationships with other people are great but the relationship that you have with yourself is the one that really matters.

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