You First in Relationships

When I say, “You first in relationships,” I’m not flashing a green light for selfishness and bratty behavior.  I’m talking about the importance of being emotionally right with yourself before you can be emotionally right in an intimate relationship.  If you aren’t ready to meet someone halfway and possibly even wrap too much of your own self worth into what the other brings (or fails to bring), you may be asking for trouble.  In order to set yourself up for the healthiest relationship possible, the best you can do is be sure you’ve taken care of yourself first.

This type of self-care is not selfish.  In fact, it’s very wise.

How do you know if you’re right with yourself?  Ah, a potentially complicated question but one you might begin to answer by reviewing the following indicators of a person who has some uncertainty of self and might benefit from a “you first” approach to be the best they can be to a partner:

  • You notice a sense of desperation around your relationship-seeking.  This might have led you to making poor choices in partners now or in the past.
  • Your mood is dictated by the mood of your partner (externally) rather than being generated from the inside.
  • You have a tendency to pick partners in need of rescuing – and you happily take on that task but end up suffering as a result.
  • You are overly anxious in relationships.  You might worry about things like your partner’s whereabouts, activities, choices, time spent with you; struggling to let them “be” despite no behavior indicating a trust problem.
  • You struggle with intimacy and vulnerability in relationships where closeness is scary, particularly in situations where your partner has demonstrated nothing but love and loyalty.

If you see yourself in any of the above scenarios, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at what this is about.  There are likely good reasons you have learned to behave this way including trauma, difficult experiences in your family of origin or general past.  Whether you are currently in a relationship or single, this means shining the light into some of your darker corners.  You have a lot of choices in “how” you go about this; therapy, self-help books and other resources or even beginning by talking to a trusted friend.

Taking the “you first” approach will not only serve you but your current relationship or potential future relationships.  The good news is, typically the healthier you are, the healthier of a mate you will attract.

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of with emotional and relationship health articles, guides, courses and other tools for individuals and couples. She is a frequent consultant for the media having appeared in,, and others. Lisa has a private practice in Marin County, CA and offers Emotional Health and Relationship Consultations via email, phone or video conference.

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