In November last year, Emma Watson made the declaration that she is “self-partnered,” not single. Being self-partnered is when an individual can feel empowered and in a good place all on their own, without being in a relationship. This statement brought up an important point; many people rely largely on their partner for self-confidence and self-love. This shouldn’t have to be the case.
There is a lot of discussion in person and on the internet these days about self-love and how it is not only “OK” but sometimes wonderful to be single. And although I wholeheartedly agree and think that this is incredibly true, I often find myself questioning what self-love means to me and how I can prioritize feeling and being sexy for myself.
Balance independence and romance
For context: I just recently turned 21 and I’m in a monogamous relationship with my boyfriend, who I have been living with for over a year. When hanging out with friends, he and I often discuss feeling “older” or like “an old couple” because of our lifestyle and our relationship in comparison with many of those we know who are enjoying being single.
I think that a lot of people have the preconceived notion that it is unhealthy to “settle down” the way that we have, especially because we are so young. We have plans to move to the Yukon together next year, and even now share our responsibilities and life together. For us, this works.
However, I cannot stress how important it is to remain self-partnered while in a relationship. Just because my boyfriend and I are very happy together and are trying to plan a future, does not mean we have become codependent and have lost sight of ourselves. We understand that that things we want within our relationship and for ourselves may change and mold with time and we continue to have various separate goals. It is important to be able to exist independently within this relationship. We live our own lives and I believe this is perhaps the most important thing to remember when in a relationship.
Be sexy for you
Although I am in a relationship, I still make sure that I feel sexy for me. For instance, I don’t care about my leg hair and often feel more comfortable not shaving, so I don’t. If I want to, I do, but it is not because I worry that my boyfriend will think that I am “gross” and I never want him to worry about stuff like that either. I also love to dye my hair, get tattoos and piercings, wear unisex or male-coded clothing, and I almost always dress sort of flashy and unique in some way. I do all of this for me. If I wear something more traditionally girly, it’s also still for me. Because at the end of the day, if he loves me, he’ll love all that shit too.
Your relationship doesn’t define you
A large part of being self-partnered in my relationship is being comfortable and happy with my sexual preferences. I am bisexual, and this does not change because my boyfriend happens to be a cisgender straight man. (No matter his gender, I would love him just the same, and find him just as sexy.) My experiences, feelings, and attraction, as a bisexual woman are part of me, part of who I am, and this does not change because of my relationship.
Being in a partnership should never change your love for you. Your life should never, ever, just become the life of a person who lives for their partner. While a partnership is surely about compromise, sharing, and connectedness, these are all things you must also do with yourself. If a relationship makes you forget yourself, you should take a step back and ask why this is and begin to search for healthier ways to engage with your self-partnership.
Always remember that you should be self-partnered and partnered within a relationship. Love isn’t about shackling yourselves to each other, love is about the two of you flying as high as you can and shooting for every star, all by yourself. You should have the ability to be self-reliant, self-loving and independent as hell with your partner by your side, cheering you on the whole way. Love is amazing, but self-love can be just as powerful.