• When we’re in a relationship, finding time for ourselves can seem like a selfish act. In reality, prioritizing our personal needs through relationship self-care is a necessary part of a healthy romantic connection.
  • It’s common to skimp on our personal time and start to hyper-fixate on our relationship in order to find validation and security. But doing this places unnecessary pressure on our partner over time.
  • If practicing relationship self-care seems impossible, it’s likely you’ve lost touch with your interests and passions, so take a moment to create a list of what makes you you.
  • Eliminating your guilt or fear associated with taking personal time can be accomplished by setting boundaries and communicating your needs with your partner.
  • Couples therapy or marriage counseling may prove to be a useful tool as well — strengthen your ability to communicate, empathize, and regulate emotions with help from a therapist or counselor at Thriveworks.

Self-care posts and tips often talk to us as though we’re single. But what about practicing self-care while we’re in a relationship? When we avoid prioritizing our own needs in a relationship, it can result in us feeling hurt and insecure, putting an unfair amount of pressure on our partner to validate us constantly. So instead of viewing our personal time, boundaries, and insecurities as obstacles that threaten our romantic relationship, we need to establish communication and shared trust. Relationship self-care is a necessary part of a balanced mental health routine.

When you’re in a relationship, taking time for yourself requires effort and coordination with your S.O. Feeling guilty about taking some personal space to replenish is the main culprit that leaves many of us feeling a little hollow on the inside. So instead of placing the obligation on our relationship to take care of us, let’s practice relationship self-care and stop hyper-fixating on the person we love.

Are You Hyper-Fixated on Your Partner? 

When we turn down our personal recuperation time in order to focus on our relationship, we may start to hyper-fixate on our romantic connection because our other interests have started to wane. Overthinking, especially in relationships, isn’t usually helpful, and can often lead to relationship anxiety or other couples issues. If you feel insecure in your relationship, you may feel like you’re constantly chasing validation from your S.O. It might be helpful to slow down and remember why your partner chose you. 

The spark that started your relationship probably had little to do with your current hyper-fixation. What most likely attracted your current partner to you was your independence, your opinions, your interests. Getting back in touch with yourself can help you reduce any insecurity you feel and remove some of the roadblocks preventing you from practicing relationship self-care. This might involve: 

  1. Identifying things about yourself— hobbies, interests, personality traits— that make you you (which also make you a desirable partner): Make a list (seriously). Write down the subjects or hobbies that you enjoy. And make sure to actually write them down, instead of using your phone. Some studies indicate that writing down our thoughts helps to retain them better than using a phone or laptop.
  2. Not being afraid to spend time alone when you need it:  Think of alone time as a way to fill yourself back up again, with energy, optimism, and the opportunity to reflect. Time spent away from our partners may actually increase our desire to see them again. Not everyone is comfortable with being alone, but learning to be can boost our self-confidence, and help us to re-orient ourselves every now and then.

Setting Boundaries Makes Practicing Relationship Self-Care Easier

Maintaining a relationship, whether it’s short or long-term, requires balance. If we prioritize our own needs without considering our partners, we risk harming our partners and alienating them. Yet if we spend too much time doting and obsessing instead, we might come across as overbearing or suffocating. Resisting the urge to monitor your relationship too closely isn’t impossible, but you might need to adjust your mindset:  

  1. Don’t assume that setting time aside for yourself will harm your relationship or offend your partner: People who have experienced trauma from previous relationships or experiences often over-accommodate for others in order to avoid conflict. This type of behavior may have helped us to survive at one point, but simply surviving isn’t what romantic relationships are about. To actually enjoy your partner, you need to be in a place where you’re confident—so communicate what makes you comfortable and uncomfortable.
  2. Vocalize the personal boundaries you expect to be upheld in your relationship to avoid any miscommunications that might cause you to overthink: Boundaries for things like sex, infidelity, and social media use are all common topics we discuss with our partners. But it’s also helpful to bring up your self-care habits and talk about them with your partner. This way, you can set time for yourself while still making sure to check in with them. If someone doesn’t respect your individual boundaries or refuses to acknowledge them, then that’s a major red flag.

What to Do If You’re Currently Hyper-Fixated on Your Partner and Neglecting Yourself

I tend to lose track of my identity when I’m pulled into a serious relationship, leaving behind the time and energy I once dedicated to things like hanging out with friends, recording music, or rock climbing. While I don’t necessarily want to spend as much time doing these things as I did when I was single, they represent some of the activities that bring me joy. Finding time for them is still important, and getting even a few hours away from the house makes me excited to meet up with my partner again when I get home.  

But getting to a place where we can feel comfortable in trusting that our relationship can survive without 24/7 overthinking and monitoring may be tricky. And if you’ve been lied to, cheated on, or struggled to communicate successfully, being able to practice self-care in a relationship can seem impossible. But despite what your brain is telling you, focusing on yourself first is a better option. Our partners would rather see us feeling relaxed and secure than anxious and panicked. If you’re struggling to cope with relationship anxiety or are feeling guilty about practicing self-care, here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  1. Consider whether couples or marriage counseling could be beneficial: Despite thoughts to the contrary, couples therapy doesn’t always signify the end of the road for a relationship. In fact, it’s quite common for partners to see a therapist together. Strengthening your communication channels and fortifying your relationship’s walls of trust could never be a bad thing. If you’re both interested in seeing if couples therapy could make a difference, reach out to a Thriveworks location near you.
  2. Tell your partner that you’re having difficulty taking time for your own needs: When we avoid addressing the dissonance we feel inside by throwing ourselves into our relationship, this puts unnecessary pressure on our partner to support every emotional need we have. It can also leave us feeling fragile and insecure with every bump our romantic connection endures. Additionally, while romantic partners should also support each other emotionally, it’s not fair to expect your partner to carry your emotional burden for you.

Relationship Self-Care Is Good for Both Partners

Setting self-care up to be a process of pulling yourself away from your relationship isn’t going to work. Instead, we need to avoid hyper-fixating, establish boundaries, consider therapy, and communicate our needs. It’s normal to feel guilty about practicing relationship self-care, but it’s important to know that prioritizing yourself when it’s necessary won’t scare them off—and you’ll be a better partner for them, too. 

The reasons why some of us hyper-fixate on our partners may vary, but the result is still the same: Our mental health suffers. As tempting as it may be to rely solely on our relationship for validation, we just can’t do that and expect the results to be healthy or pleasurable. Relationships can test our self-worth because the temptation to dedicate one hundred percent of our time to someone we love is so strong. But when we act like this, we’ll inevitably neglect ourselves.