How Saving Myself Saved My Relationship

Posted on Jan 7 2015 - 3:51pm by Min Chen

Self Love Infographic

I’ve been with my boyfriend for about two years but I can honestly say that it wasn’t until a few months ago that I finally began to see my relationship clearly. As a whole, I felt that we had a good relationship; it was drama free and we rarely argued. But I always felt that there was something unsaid, looming over and creating a barrier between us – real or imagined, I couldn’t tell.

We’re both independent people, which is what I attributed this feeling to. Even after the relationship felt more serious, I was still nagged with the feeling that I couldn’t completely be myself around him. It wasn’t because I thought that he wouldn’t understand; I simply thought that he wouldn’t be interested in what I had to say. At times, I felt like second-rate girlfriend, one that was there out of habit.

When I felt this way, I did everything in my power to hold back passive aggression to the point of near implosion, out of fear of being typecast as being hormonal or immature. Deep down, I knew and know that he’s always acted reasonably. But at the time, he always seemed blasé and dismissible. I couldn’t understand why I was blissfully happy with him one second and then to feeling like a charity case the next.

At one point I realized that I needed to first save myself if I wanted to save my relationship. The catalyst for this realization was at a low-point in the relationship, after he had moved to another city for work, of which I spent a good amount of time feeling abandoned and pondering if it’s truly the end.

Throughout the majority of our relationship, I was going through somewhat of a personal crisis. I made some – what I perceived at the time – regrettable decisions about my education and was at a loss in terms of how I saw my life going. I felt like a failure and projected these sentiments onto our relationship.

I couldn’t understand why I felt so victimized by so many things he did and I hated myself for being so overdramatic. It was a vicious cycle I felt like I couldn’t get myself out of. I thought that since I had no prospects elsewhere, then my relationship was doomed to fail as well. A battered self-esteem and insecurity is unattractive; I was aware tried hide it in every possible way.

It was difficult to admit that this is why my expectations for our relationship seemed to fall short. I wanted our idyllic, healthy relationship to inspire me and pull me out of my slump. I wanted us to be the kind of couple who are separately fulfilled in the office and then come home to love and support. Undoubtedly, I was left only to be disappointed

That’s when I stopped and made a conscious decision to save myself, separating that completely from my job and relationship. Instead of going home and stressing out about these things, I stepped away and did things to change my outlook on life.

I talked to people who knew how to help me, did things that required me to be creative again, and learned how to enjoy being alone.

After a few months, I felt really refreshed. I don’t think my boyfriend really knew what was going on because it was something that I had to do on my own. I learned to move past regrets and that true confidence can’t be faked, which led to a more relaxed attitude about what I perceive as ‘success’ and ‘failure’ in terms of my career.

My boyfriend and I managed to stay together and it wasn’t long that I began to see our relationship differently. I finally processed the words when he tells me that he’s busy, as opposed to “I don’t feel like talking to you.” And I now know that he does me and want to be with me – no fine print about how many ideal girlfriend boxes that I tick.

I projected a more optimistic view about how I felt towards the relationship and interpreted a more positive response from him in return. Just like I had imagined, but never experienced, a lot of the negativity in the relationship was blown up in my mind. Often, you feel like your partner may be judging or criticizing you because you’re doing that to yourself. Our relationship isn’t perfect, but I can see a promising future now.

These types of changes come slowly. For me, I was able to maintain my relationship while I was going through these things, but looking back at how unhappy I was, I would say that it’s the right thing to do even if it means taking time away. It may sound like a paradox, but the less your care about yourself, the less you’re able to care about others.

There’s so much white noise that we face every day and so many things that can bring you down. Finding love is amazing, but it’s not a cure for anything. It’s a great source of happiness, but it won’t save you from struggles with self-doubt, which you need to deal with on your own.


If you enojoyed this article, here’s something which you might also find useful. An inphographic that presents a few interesting facts about self love. Enjoy!

Self Love Infographic full image

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About the Author

Min Chen grew up on Boston and has spent the past few years in the UK and parts of Asia.

After two political science degrees, she predictably landed herself a couple of jobs that have

no relation with that subject  whatsoever. She’s since learned to stop trying and plan out her

life and just be. Min currently works in digital marketing for an e-commerce start-up.

To find out more about Min visit


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