I Love You, But I Love Me More

 Picture copied from jenandmen.com   Scene from Sex and the City

Picture copied from jenandmen.com

Scene from Sex and the City

Samantha Jones uttered the title phrase to boyfriend Smith Jerrod in the first Sex and the City movie.  My friends and I gushed over our favorite parts as we left the theater.  However, somewhere in the parking lot, we began lamenting over Samantha's loss as though she and Smith were close friends of ours.  He was handsome, sweet, charming and he stayed with her through chemo for goodness sake!  There had to be a happily ever after lurking in the midst for those two in a future sequel, right? 

While we were reaching for scraps to make us feel better about the outcome of their relationship, none of us realized that there was a valuable lesson staring us right in the face. In a recent article entitled "My Phone Number Hasn't Changed, But I Have", I briefly explored how personal growth and evolution can affect our relationships.  For as long as I can remember, I have been somewhat of a people pleaser. I always wanted to do and say things the right way - suffering in silence to maintain peaceful relationships (romantic and otherwise).  A constant internal struggle threatened my own inner peace incessantly.  Small steps and mini victories pushed me out of this uncomfortable comfort zone.  Then a few weeks ago, something changed.

My experience with my ex in the aforementioned article sparked more thought provoking inner dialog.  Is it selfish of me to look out for my own needs before the desires of others?  You're damn right it's selfish...and that is not necessarily a bad thing.  Think about it like this - you are at a holiday dinner with family.  Your aunt Irene's infamous casserole leaves you nauseous and swearing off of all solid foods for several days, but she keeps pushing you to try her new and improved recipe.  Is her happiness worth you spending the rest of your night hunched over a toilet bowl?  Absolutely not.

Now let's take this a step further.  If you know that someone or something can cause you harm or discomfort and the other party becomes aware of the problem and continues to push, who is really the selfish one?   Expressing yourself and being your own advocate helps to keep you balanced (not to mention sane).  I tried a new methodology this past week and it worked wonders with someone I've struggled with for years.  Here goes it:

  1. State your position ahead of time - This is especially important if you plan on breaking a routine or habit that both of you have been accustomed to.  Eliminating the element of surprise gives said person time to acclimate to the change.  It also prevents the "I didn't know" argument.  Explain the "why's" behind your actions.  Disclosure with tact promotes open and honest communication in any relationship.
  2. Maintain your stance - If you've been known to fold or go back on your word in the past, said person might try to coerce you into doing the same thing this time around.  Stand your ground.  Be assertive, not aggressive.  Arguing or becoming defensive will weaken your position.   
  3. Act on it - Don't just sit around!  You have already laid the ground work.  Worst case scenario, your position didn't turn out as well as expected.  And that's okay.  At least you tried to find an alternative.  
  4. Talk about it (optional) - Depending on the situation, you might want to talk through it again with the other person.  Re-explain the "why's"  and ask for feedback.  Perhaps they didn't know how you felt or they have a different perspective now that they've had more time to think.

Facing conflict is one of the hardest things you can do in any relationship; however, conflict is inevitable.  Attempting to deal with it constructively in effort to seek resolution is the best course of action.  In Samantha's case, fighting for her emotional well-being meant ending her relationship.  Five years later and I finally realize that her declaration was the happily ever after.