by Mandi C. Dalicandro-Turk, MSPC, NCC
A Series of Articles: 6 of 6 – The ‘You’ Factor in Developing Quality Relationships
This series is focused on developing quality relationships. Article 6 of 6 focuses on you, your identity, and your role in developing quality relationships.
How well do you know yourself?
Knowing yourself, the deeper meaning of who you are, and how to apply each to building and nurturing the quality of life you desire is a long-term and at times, difficult process. It takes work, vulnerability, comfort with you as a whole, with each of your facets, and strength. Learning about yourself (i.e., what you enjoy, dislike, how you plan, your work ethic, preferences for physical and emotional intimacy, desires, fears, anxieties, coping style, what you grapple with, and how you engage in relationships) is a key factor in the process of honoring who you are as a human. Each impact you as a human, and how you engage in relationships. In addition, knowing your identity on a fundamental level assists in navigating the smooth, bumpy, and at times, roaring waters of a relationship.
Developing a deep understanding and commitment to who you are (and aren’t) as a person increases life satisfaction. In addition, having a stable identity increases the probability of partnering with a person that is more compatible with you. It’s human nature to desire connection with your partner, independence, interdependence, enjoyment of time together, a level of contentment, safety, and to feel fundamentally on the same page. At times, this is difficult to navigate; especially when negotiating through life, family, morals and values, goals, growth, change, and difficult times.
Part of knowing who you are is developing a strong sense of the following:
Consider the significance of each for you as an individual, and how each positively and negatively impact your relationship.
- What do you enjoy, what are your daily habits, and how does each impact your quality of life?
Consider how this supports you, your goals, and what this means for you in a relationship.
- What are your educational and career goals? How does this impact you in a relationship long-term?
Consider your goals educationally and professionally. Then consider how this works with a long-term relationship and decisions on family.
- How often do you prefer to have physical intimacy in a relationship? What are you open to sexually? What boundaries will you set?
In addition, consider: Whether or not your partner has similar preferences, and how to navigate differences in healthy ways.
The above takes time, a healthy self-disclosure-trust ratio (at your personal comfort and pace), vulnerability, healthy boundaries, and openness, as well as, respect. Have fun with it, if and when you decide it’s right for you.
- What is your comfort with emotional intimacy?
Consider your comfort with sharing the depth of your emotions and receiving your partners, eye contact, verbal affirmations, and how you express, feel, and give love and support. In addition, explore the meaning of giving and receiving of each in your relationship.
- What do you desire for yourself and in a relationship? Is this realistic long-term?
Developing realistic expectations for yourself, for your partner, and the relationship as a whole takes work and exploration. In addition, consider your approach to growth and change throughout long-term relationships.
- Check in on mental health.
Consider what you grapple with, how this impacts the ways you engage that may support and/or hinder progress as an individual and in relationships.
Consider how each affects communication styles, mental health, and attachments.
When issues are spilling-over and decreasing your quality of life and/or lowering life satisfaction- be kind to yourself and seek out support.
- Honoring yourself and your identity.
Explore what supports and strengthens you and your wellness as a whole person. Then consider how to implement self-support and honor into your relationship with yourself and with your partner.
- Create and implement healthy boundaries.
Whether you’re repressing aspects of who you are, if you’re still figuring out your identity, or if you’ve given yourself permission to explore and honor who you are, you’re still you. Honor who you are by creating healthy boundaries and do so with integrity, respect, by being ethical, and doing no harm to others. Be humble, build awareness of your strength, and implement balance.
At times, it’s difficult to know what healthy boundaries are. The support of a therapist will assist you in identifying and implementing healthy boundaries that honor you as a human.
- Do a self inventory.
Check in with how you’re treating yourself. Are you treating yourself with kindness and self-compassion, engaging in self-care, honoring your identity, and checking in with how you feel?
Give yourself permission to take inventory of your relationship, your feelings, and the significance of each in your life.
- Have fun in the process.
Engaging in fun is healthy for your brain, for you psychologically and physiologically, it lowers stress, and supports a sense of life balance. You’ll feel refreshed and more ready to take on what’s important to you each day.
Learning and developing who you are (and aren’t) as a human supports you, your life goals, and allows for you to spend time with yourself in more enjoyable and authentic ways. You’ll feel more whole, more confident, more comfortable in your choices, and you’ll enjoy your relationships more. With that being said, if you’re not there yet, give yourself permission to explore and uncover who you are in healthy ways- it will nurture and strengthen you as a whole human and each of your facets too 🙂
In conclusion, this series of articles was designed to give you insight into communication, respect, appreciation, attachment, relationships, and in giving yourself permission to develop and honor your identity moving forward. Relationships are work, including the one with yourself. You’re worth the time, energy, and dedication it takes towards a healthier more satisfying life, identity, and in developing quality relationships.
Learn, grow, & enjoy,
Mandi Dalicandro-Turk writes about a variety of topics related to mental health, behavioral health, relationships, stress, anxiety, aging, grieving, self-care, therapy, and improving one’s overall quality of life.