Relationship Coach Nadine (follow her on IG @nadinemarccoach) had a SUPER relatable story this morning which resonated with me regarding the importance of listening to our bodies and values/beliefs while in relationships. Her story and example made me think about times when I too had either abandoned my own values in relationship, or temporarily suspended them. We can safely say this is not a good practice, but sometimes it can be really difficult to recognize (or admit) we are engaging in this behavior while in the throes of a happy period or the start of a new relationship.
When we look at this, please note that I don’t mean “do not compromise” – that is NOT at all what I am saying. I am talking about those times when we completely let go of our boundaries or values, for a prolonged period of time, rather than communicating our desires/needs and meeting the other party halfway.
In more than one past relationships (much like Ms. Nadine’s example) I all but completely abandoned my value of health. This was not because or at the pressure of my partner, instead I recognize that I did it because I (mostly) didn’t want to stop the “fun” or be the reason we weren’t having a “good time” and/or start a fight. During those relationships, I was partnered with people who didn’t prioritize health, meaning they: didn’t eat healthy foods, didn’t cook much (if at all), engaged in alcohol to a deep degree, used recreational drugs (probably more than recreationally lol), smoked cigarettes, didn’t engage in routine health/medical exams, and didn’t work out regularly. Because they did/didn’t do those things, by default I allowed myself to live the same way.
I won’t lie, I LOVED those people and relationships. I fully enjoyed our life/lifestyle and I willingly engaged in it; however, I recognize now (hindsight is 20/20, right?) that those relationships could never truly flourish long term, and clearly they did not. I ended up not feeling good in so many ways, just driving my physical health into the ground, year over year, and finally ending up in a place where I was sick and unwell. I didn’t feel good about myself from the standpoint of enjoying my external shell & aesthetic. I was ashamed of how I looked and embarrassed by my size, rendering me less than confident. Our lifestyle meant spending lots of money on alcohol and take out/delivery foods, and that didn’t sit well with me, even though I didn’t want to admit it. I was feeling so tired and sluggish that I was (of course) always in a state of fog/run down and then would end up snappy and less than fun to be around. I felt resentful that they (my male partners) could live this lifestyle and (seemingly) not end up as overweight as I was, and could function the next day easily. I missed being able to take part in events that I did when I was young(er) and more active/healthy (such as snowboarding easily), and was deeply embarrassed when I felt too winded and too heavy to do more than just a couple runs down the mountain one year when a partner and I went for a winter outing.
The other aspect of this, that I feel is important to mention, is listening to and being in touch with your body. In the paragraphs prior I described many physical manifestations that should have been strong clues that something needed to change. At that point in my life, I wasn’t trying to listen to my body and I certainly wasn’t practicing being conscious of the signals it was sending. Shoot, if I was I probably would have stopped myself from overeating/drinking alcohol way more frequently and noticed other things, like diminished sex drive and poor skin/acne. I wasn’t tuning in to the clues, and some of them (like “gut instinct” feelings as we call them) were being blatantly ignored. When something “feels” off, it most likely IS – so pay attention. Energy levels, pains, or even just “off” feelings that you’re not sure what they are…they all mean something if you’re willing to listen and engage with them.
You can see from my example that just abandoning one area (health) can have SUCH a huge ripple effect. I could very much go on and on about other areas where I let my values crumble … but I won’t because 1. that would be an immense post and 2. it’s not necessary. We can’t punish ourselves for a past when we didn’t know or hadn’t experienced better. We never know what we don’t know, and all we can do is move forward in a more positive course of action.
I’m happy to say that I feel I am very much improving at communicating my needs and boundaries. I also feel that because of this, each relationship feels like a step closer to the “right” fit, and a bit easier or better than the last. Are there times you can look back and see where you let your boundaries or values relax in a way which rendered a negative outcome?