Doing Something For Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend That Makes You Feel Gross? That's Not OK
I am prone to displaying my disdain for people, places, and things via an accidental grimace. I know that I am not unique, and this phenomenon has been called "resting bitch face" — of course, I prefer the much less misogynistic "distracted mind face." I find it strange that while I often look like I hate the world, I'm actually a major people-pleaser. I'm full of snark, but deep down, I want everyone to like me. (Don't we all?) I especially want people I'm dating to like me. (Shouldn't they?) If you're only doing something for your boyfriend or girlfriend's pleasure, and it makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason, it's worth taking investigating why.
In an ideal world, all relationships would be balanced — they would be equal partnerships when it comes to attention given, decisions made, activities to take part in, and so on. 2018, however, is not an ideal world. In reality, partnerships require sacrifice and compromise on both parts, which is what sort of makes them beautiful but whatever, love is gross.
Just kidding! Love is beautiful and if you love someone you should let them know! But if you're only focused on pleasing your partner, and your partner does not reciprocate, you're not looking out for yourself. The biggest problem with focusing only on pleasing your partner is that this lack of balance can lead to problems down the road. But how can you tell if you're in an imbalanced partnership? I spoke to clinical psychologist and host of The Web Radio Show Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. about the red flags you're only doing something for your partner, not yourself.
Are You Doing Something That Goes Against Your Beliefs?
Of course there is nothing wrong with engaging in certain acts for your partner, says Dr. Klapow. Doing something for someone we love can bring us satisfaction, even if we're doing something we don't necessarily want to do. However, there's always a limit. "Compromise is key in a relationship," says Dr. Klapow. "Personal boundaries are also key. Behaviors that force us beyond those boundaries for our partners need to be engaged in with extreme caution."
So, for example, if your partner asks you to "engage in sexual practices that cross personal boundaries or morals," you should think twice before taking part, says Dr. Klapow. Someone who cares about you will respect the boundaries that you do have. A more extreme version — someone who asks you to change your religion for them, says Dr. Klapow. If you'd like to change your religion in order to marry the love of your life, go for it, but if you don't want to change your belief set, you've expressed that to your partner, and they still ask you to do so — major red flag!
Are You Doing Something That Puts Your Life Or Goals On Hold?
If your partner asks you to "put a career, education, or life pursuit on hold to allow their partner to pursue theirs," then you may be over-compensating in order to please them, says Dr. Klapow. Again, relationships are compromises, and if you and your partner come to the decision to make a particular move together, or for one of you to work while the other goes back to school, that's OK — as long as it's truly mutual.
This goes for having children too, because that's a massive decision that you truly need to make together. "We can do a behavior for our partner that we don’t want to do," says Dr. Klapow. "But if it harms us emotionally or physically then these are behaviors that should be carefully thought out, and even discussed before ever doing." Communication is queen!
At the end of the day, it's important to make sure that the behaviors you are so sweetly engaging in for your partner's benefit are not directly harming you in any way. If you feel like you're compromising values, belief sets, or even your safety, it's important to consider how healthy your relationship truly is.