Humans are social animals. We are designed by nature to seek out partners. There is nothing unnatural or inherently unhealthy about relationships, but they are tricky.
Social constructs, culture and new methods of interaction are causing relationships to be almost more trouble than they’re worth. In an age where relationships can begin with a swipe, double-tap or keystroke, people have begun to love others before they have a chance to love themselves.
Unhealthy relationships can result from over-eagerness to be with someone, internal issues such as fear of being alone and low self-esteem, and miseducation about what relationships should look like. Partnerships resulting from such positions are like structures built with little to no foundation — destined to crumble violently.
Granted, the emotional benefits of relationships are still present even in some of the worst cases, but there are also emotional risks. When a relationship is built on insufficient foundations, the potential emotional fallout can outweigh the immediate satisfaction.
When you place the value meant for yourself in another person, what else can be expected?
The most important key to a stable, healthy relationship is for both parties to love, value and respect themselves. Without this, the scale of emotional contribution will never balance, resulting in one individual essentially supporting the other.
Healthy romantic relationships are not paternal. They are not noble sacrifices. They do not involve martyrdom. They are mutualistic, not parasitic. There is no “giver” or “taker.”
That is not to say sacrifice isn’t necessary in relationships. In fact, some of the most successful relationships are only so because of extensive sacrifice. The discrepancy is that in healthy relationships, sacrifices are made relatively equally by both partners, while in the unhealthy counterpart, one person’s losses are far greater.
What is even more important than sacrifice is self-respect. If both parties in a relationship respect themselves, everything else will fall into place. Neither will allow themselves to sacrifice so much that they are being used, and middle ground will be found or the relationship will end before it becomes unhealthy.
Take initiative, but do not grow restless. Learn to love yourself before you spare love for other things. Respect yourself far more than you do anyone else. Sacrifice, but do not settle. Love and be loved.
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