Am I a bad girlfriend for not putting the goals of our relationship first?
New year, new you… right? But what happens when setting goals for yourself comes before your relationship? Is it a major do — or don't?
Not so long before I welcomed the idea of 2014 (seriously, weren't we all just celebrating 2013?), I started thinking about my resolutions: For the coming year, what were the things that I really wanted to focus on? What did I want to get better at? What were the things that I put highest on the priority list? And then it struck me … my resolutions had nothing to do with my relationship and everything to do with me.
The awareness settled on me like a stack of bricks (or was that all the Christmas cookies?). Was I a bad girlfriend for not putting the goals of our relationship first? No, I wasn't. In my relationship, I've always put myself first and for my boyfriend; his needs always come first for him. It's worked for three years, so what's another year? For us, staying individuals (and happy individuals, at that) has always mattered more than who we are as "couple".
So when I didn't initially have a resolution for my relationship, I didn't break a sweat. What worried me, at first, was that nowhere on my list of Be Better At … or Things I'd Like to Change or Goals to Make 2014 Your Best Year Yet! was there a bullet point dedicated to my relationship. I couldn't help think: Am I selfish or just being honest?
Turns out there were tons of women singing the same tune.
1. "I'm happier when I'm satisfied with myself."
Melanie, 27, said that one of her biggest resolutions for 2014 was to spend more time trekking around her city. "I love being outside; spring, summer, fall, when it's five below. I just love adventures. And unlucky for me, my boyfriend is more of a homebody. So this year, I want to go stomping through my city more and get to know every little bit I can."
The honest, simple resolution, Melanie said, was something that made her feel more grounded in her relationship. "Mike [her boyfriend] likes to take on DIY projects and he's an awesome cook. I let him do his thing and he lets me do mine. When we both come home to each other at the end of the day, there's no fighting because 'you didn't let me do this' or 'you didn't do that with me!' We're still doing the things we want, just taking the pressure off the other person."
2. "I want to get fit because I'll feel sexier."
It's the resolution that's on every single one of our lists this year (and every year), but that doesn't diminish the power that getting fit and subsequently looking fabulous, has on a woman and her man. "Like every other female on the planet, 2014 is going to be the year I look fine as hell," says Julianne, 26. "I'm always good for like three or four months and then I just fall by the wayside because it’s getting warmer and I want to drink beer and eat burgers and drown myself in tub after tub of potato and macaroni salad — and then I get self-conscious, which manifests in so many areas of my life but especially in my relationship. I'm shy, I don't want to be seen naked, I don't want to be hugged and squeezed and loved on. You know who that sucks for? Both of us."
For 2014, she says, the resolution is like her own personal game of dominoes. "I feel good, I'm proud of myself and then, bam! I'm way more likely to want to be naked or to have sex in front of the mirror or to be tugged and hugged and loved. I think feeling sexy in my own skin just makes me that much sexier to my guy."
3. "I'll finally feel like I'm home."
"That doesn't mean I don't already know,” says Sarah, 29, right after she tells me that she wants to skip town and travel for a few months, with shorter trips planned intermittently. "I know what I want and where I feel most loved and safest but there is this huge wanderlust baby that I carry with me everywhere and this year, I just need to feed it. My boyfriend doesn't have the same financial flexibility as I do, so most of these trips will be without him and to be honest, I prefer traveling alone. It's a really personal experience. I need it to really come back home, you know?"
4. "I can't live inside my relationship."
Andie, 33, says that her biggest must-do in the New Year is to spend more time with her girlfriends, hosting girls' nights or doing the Sex and the City thing and grabbing lunch together. Why? "The world is big — it's not just me and my partner alone here on earth. I need other things, like time with my best friends, to feel whole." As for what it means to say that, Andie says she's not worried about people thinking she's self-involved or a brat.
"We're in a relationship because we want to be and because we have fun. A big part of that is also nurturing the things you both do (and love to do) so that your relationship stays fun. And also, who the hell else am I going to girl talk with?"
Point. Well. Made.
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