A different kind of Valentine’s Day.

I’m a feminist but sometimes I worry I’m too independent.

I’m surprised at how hard I’ve found it to be in a relationship again.

Over the past two years, I have grown and changed and I was so eager to get into a relationship with the right kind of person I worry I’ve steamed ahead too fast. Finding a really lovely man has meant I’ve been extremely happy for the last few months, but now I’ve realised I need to maintain my own space so I don’t lose my cool and scream at my lovely boyfriend.

Was I so hungry that I gorged and now I’m feeling full?

We want to spend loads of our time together, doing lots of exciting things and learning about one another, but we need time for our own lives, too. I’ve been single for a few years (he’s been single even longer) and shifting from being fiercely independent to sharing part of my life with someone has been hard. Having to consider not only someone else’s feelings, but also acknowledging how my actions impact A’s timetables and compromising on so much has been tough. Fortunately, A feels the same way and he seems to want to make ‘us’ work. He said we’ll ‘tackle the shift together’.

We don’t need to entwine every aspect of our lives. We need to remain independent people because we’ve worked so hard to cultivate ourselves. When we are no longer together, we don’t want to have to re-build our independent lives from scratch.

Whilst we continue to learn about one another, we need to learn how to complement each other and find our balance.

This came to a head this Valentine’s Day. The day is full of pressure for everything to be perfect, and although I usually reject romance and the slushy nature of this day for lovers, this is the first V. Day in years I’ve been romantically involved, so I put in the effort.

What started as a lovely evening and frank discussions about our my weaknesses, turned into a night of simmering resentment and spiteful comments. Although no fault of A’s, the previous few days at work had been particularly stressful and coupled with him staying over and waking up frequently during the night, I felt tightly-wound. Because my emotional cup was almost full with negative emotions, it didn’t take much for it to overflow and unfortunately, A was in the firing line. One bad comment during sex fed into a personal insecurity and I shut down. There were no cuddles, no more sex and barely any smiles exchanged. We spoke about it again this morning, but I was still harbouring resentment and I couldn’t improve my attitude.

What I realise now is that I needed time to myself. Since being home alone for the past few hours (with my mobile on aeroplane mode) I’ve managed to drain my emotional cup and I feel more balanced.

Throughout my time as a single girl, blogging has been my outlet. And of course, it’s an outlet during my times in a relationship, so it should have come as no surprise that writing would be a catharsis.

At first, I worried my independence might drive A away, but if anything will drive him away, it’s my short fuse and irritability. In order to better manage our relationship, I need to better manage my emotions and know when I need to take a step back from being part of a whole and feel whole on my own. They say you can never love anyone until you love yourself and I think it’s also true that you can’t expect to successfully share your life with someone if you can’t maintain a sense of agency over your own identity. To feel like myself, and to control my emotions, I need to allow myself to spend time alone; doing what I love doing (reading and writing).

Hopefully, this ‘me-time’ will not only encourage A to be independent but also afford more success in our relationship.

Our relationship with ourselves is the most important; lovers and friends come and go, but we are the only constant in our lives. We need to remember this and care for this very special relationship that lasts a lifetime.

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