In Love With Myself
I spend a lot of time practicing self-care, whether through yoga, meditation, or the way I eat. My boyfriend, however, doesn’t prioritize self-care, and judges the measures I go to to protect my body and my mind, potentially seeing it as selfish. How can I continue to love myself fully without alienating my boyfriend? How can I invite my boyfriend into my practices of self-care if he has no interest?
In Love with Myself
Dear In Love with Myself,
It is great that you have found the level and type of self care that makes you feel good. Self care is a critical component to overall happiness and if I am to judge by your moniker, it seems you have figured out the activity part of this lofty goal. A couple of questions though come to mind when I read your letter. You eat well, meditate, and have a regular yoga practice, but you are dating someone who judges you for the things that make you feel good, and ascribes a selfish motive to your engaging in these activities. Repeat: you are dating someone who judges you as selfish for doing the things that make you feel good. Think about that for a while in your quiet moments. You clearly are not at peace with this, because you wrote to me about it, and you clearly don’t know what to do about it because you wrote to me about it.
If I were to venture a guess, I would say that what rankles is that your desire for, belief in, and pursuit of self care and self love runs in direct opposition to the mate you share your life with, who judges you for these priorities. Explore that with brutal honesty. As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, being brutally honest with ourselves is a form of self care, as well.
There are questions you can ask yourself as you think about this. Do you eat in a way that makes it impossible for him to ever share a meal with you (no food after 6pm and he returns from work at 7pm, for example)? Do you harp on his diet, thereby judging him? How many hours a day are you spending on yoga and meditation? Does your yoga/meditation schedule leave him having to pick up slack in the domestic duties, etc.? Does it eat into the only available time he has to spend together with you? Does he resent all the activities that you engage in without him, or does he save his harsh judgements for those related to health? Are there elements to his disdain or his frustration that you haven’t examined which might perhaps offer explanatory insight? Think about this through that lens of being brutally honest.
In any case, you can absolutely continue to love yourself, but I cannot guarantee you can do so in the manner you have chosen without alienating your boyfriend. These two might be mutually exclusive. So you have to make a decision: will you continue to do the things that make you feel good, eating well, meditating and doing yoga, or will you succumb to the judgement of your partner and cut back on or cut out these things. After the critical look you give to this whole issue, are there places and ways in which you could tweak your actions so as to compromise more with what lies at the root of his commentary while still maintaining a satisfactory level of self care?
Regarding your last sentence though, you can invite him to join you in any or all of your self-care rituals, but if he has no interest understand that to continue to ask might be perceived as judgement and badgering. When you make a smoothie, as I do every morning: “Want some green smoothie?” When the answer is, “No,” you have to move on without judgement. You’re only asking because it’s polite to offer. Period. When he says no, it’s no. More smoothie for you. Yoga and meditation the same: “I’m going to yoga class, wanna come?” “No.” “Okay cool, I’ll see you in about 2 hours.” He doesn’t get to sulk that you’re going without him; you don’t get to judge because he’s sitting in front of the game with a beer while you go to Bikram. When you come home, you don’t get to ask, “Are you still sitting there? You haven’t even moved.” And he doesn’t get to say, “Finally. You’ve been gone forever.”
He told you he has no interest. Believe him. Likewise, you told him this is important to you. He’s got to believe you too.
Compromise only as far as it feels honest and still fulfills your need for self care.