Think of relationships as the salt to your fries, the cookies to your ice-cream, the syrup to your pancakes. While we don’t really need them, they complement us and help us be the most delicious version of ourselves! In theory anyway… Sometimes that syrup gets poured on way too heavy and it ends up becoming far too overpowering – it’s just too much for those little pancakes! But enough with the analogies – you get what I mean right?! In this post I want you to look at if your relationship is holding you back – to make sure you’ve got the right balance.
I mean, are you flourishing or stagnating? Are things progressing or standing still? Are you both on the same mission, or is there a disconnect? Does your partner bring out the best in you, or show you sides you don’t really want to see? Is there a mis-match anywhere?
We need to get super honest and evaluate to see where exactly you’re at, and what you should do about it. Why? Because time is the most precious thing that we have. And sometimes, we pull the wool over our eyes because we don’t want to face the truth.
I know it sounds daunting, but it’s not really. This doesn’t have to be the be-all-and-end-all. If you find that your relationship is holding you back, there are things you can try first to change it. It doesn’t have to be make or break from here. Okay? So let’s get to the bottom of things…
Is Your Relationship Holding You Back?
There are lots of signs your relationship could be holding you back. Some are more obvious than others. To get you thinking, I’m going to start by firing a few questions over. Just jot down the answers so you can start to pull things together.
- Does your partner make you feel good about yourself?
- Or do you feel like the relationship heightens your insecurities?
- Does your partner support and encourage you?
- Or do you feel like it’s knocked your confidence and self-belief?
- How does your partner react when you do accomplish something?
- And how does your partner act when you do things for you? (Like seeing friends, treating yourself, taking time out away from him / her.)
- Does your partner ask you questions, about what’s important to you and what you want?
- Do you feel like you can totally be yourself in the relationship?
- And do all the things you want to do? If not – what do you feel like you can’t do, and why?
- Then following on from this – how important is it to you that you do those things?
- Do you feel satisfied, happy and accomplished in your life as a whole?
- If you could change one thing about your relationship, what would it be?
- And if you could change one thing about yourself- how about that?
- Do you feel like your relationship is adding more value to your life, or taking more out of you / becoming potentially draining?
- Does your partner seem happy with where he / she is at? And would you be if you were in their shoes?
In What Ways Is Your Relationship Holding You Back?
So that last exercise should have given you a lot to start thinking about. Take your time when doing it – really think things through. Then, when you’re ready, we want to go one step further to see if we can get a little more specific on which areas of your life your relationship is holding you back in.
See, sometimes the relationship in itself is just toxic. (Click here to see if this might be the case for you.) You might also find your partner has particular characteristics (like feeling insecure, getting jealous easily, etc) that make it difficult for you to feel like you can do everything you want to do without upsetting them. On the flip side, you might find that things are great when it comes to one area, but completely different in another. So next up, we’re going to clarify how exactly your relationship might be holding you back and where specifically the issues lie.
If you’re struggling with this, you may like to generalise it into a specific category. For example…
- Is your relationship holding you back in your career? You might be finding that you’re no longer pushing yourself so much. Your goals aren’t so big. You are no longer taking enough time to work on them.
- Is your relationship holding you back in your social life? Your partner is your best friend, you love them and do loads of fun stuff with them! But it may be that as a consequence, you find you no longer push yourself to make an effort with friends, or make new friends. This might then cause a bit of a disconnect. A feeling of loneliness even. And you might find your confidence has taken a hit as a result.
- Is your relationship holding you back when it comes to building on other relationships? You’re so consumed with your partner, you’re neglecting the other people that are important in your life – like your parents, your siblings, your children in some cases even. Sound familiar?
- Is your relationship holding you back when it comes to other interests? Perhaps you no longer have the time or motivation to focus on health and fitness? (Maybe because your partner doesn’t share that interest, or understand your ‘obsession’ in it either.) Or you could find that you’re not traveling as much, you’re not pursuing things as much, you don’t spend as much time on your hobbies, or just generally don’t feel so inspired anymore.
Get clear on the areas of your life in which your relationship builds you up and encourages you, and the areas in which your relationship could potentially be holding you back.
Then… Look at WHY. With each answer to both the first and second exercise, look a little closer at how and why. What are the things that your partner does, or the way in which he / she is, that makes you feel that way? What is it that’s causing this?
This bit is really important. Once we’ve done it, we can then start to shift our focus closer to home.
Are You Letting Your Relationship Hold You Back?
I’m a big believer that things often aren’t just black and white. It’s easy to point the finger here, which is why if you’re worried your relationship is holding you back, you have to take a look at the overall picture. You have to see if you yourself could be to blame in some ways too.
Because let’s be honest – when we find someone we’re totally into and things go from strength to strength, it’s easy to let that new relationship take over. We find our priorities changing as we shift our focus onto this other person and building something wonderful with them. It makes us happy, especially in the moment.
You should never let anyone become your everything, but it is important you invest the time in a person to allow things to develop and grow. So it’s all about finding the right balance. This is should also be an ongoing investment. Relationships take consistent work and effort, to help them remain being everything that they can be.
The problem is, as time goes on and your relationship becomes more settled, we can find ourselves getting comfortable – not just with the person, but in life as a whole. Sometimes we don’t push ourselves enough: to do all the things we wanted to before, or to continue working on ourselves in the same way that we used to. We don’t feel the need, or the urgency as much, because we now have the safety.
This isn’t the case for everyone – of course – but if this sounds familiar to you, it’s actually a good thing. It means if your relationship is holding you back, because of you. But that then means you also have the power to take that control back and do something about it.
What Changes Would You Like To See?
So by this point we should have:
- Assessed how the relationship is holding you back, generally and specifically in which areas.
- Looked at what it is that your partner does to make you feel like you can’t do and be everything you want to.
- Analysed how you may be playing a part in all of this.
After this, we can now start to pull together a plan for change, with the things that we need to do, and the things we’d like our partner to do – or understand – in order for some positive changes to be made. Now, when we approach this with our partner, it’s not about laying out our demands – it’s about discussing it together. Don’t go firing off, giving out your orders or leaving ultimatums. Communication is key.
It’s also important to listen to how they feel. Do they act the way they do because of things you’ve done in the past and therefore trust that needs to be re-built? Do they feel like there’s areas in which the relationship holds them back too? And if so, why is this, and what can be done about it? Work through it all together.
What Happens After That?
Once you’ve decided what needs to be done, you commit to the things you both say you’re going to do. You work on it all together, and hopefully – things get better. They should do. If at any time you notice things slipping back into old habits, you raise them, and work through them again. It’s a process, you see.
If this still doesn’t work, you might find that the relationship just isn’t right, and there then comes a point where you simply have to let go (as hard as it may be.) The thing is, you really can’t let your relationship hold you back or stop you from doing the things that are important to you. This is actually so crucial – not only for yourself and your own happiness, but also for the relationship long-term – so that it doesn’t fester any feelings of resentment.
After all, you can have the best relationship in the world, but if it stops you from feeling fulfilled in other areas of your life, you still will ultimately be unhappy.
I really hope this has helped. Remember, change doesn’t happen from reading, it happens from implementing. Decide today to take action and create positive change. Best of luck!
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