For us givers and caring folk, this seems counter intuitive, if not rather selfish. How can putting yourself first actually improve your relationship?

A number of reasons. Here are five for starters.

It stops you from becoming their mother!

It happens. If you are always looking after the other person, there is a fair chance that they will get used to that and come to expect it. Your relationship goes from being two loving individuals to caregiver and needy person. You are responsible for yourself (and if you have children, them too), but that’s it.

It ensures that your relationship needs are met

If you are always doing what the other person wants to do regardless of how you feel, or never speaking up for what makes you happy, your partner may be fooled into thinking you have few needs. But we all have needs, whether we acknowledge them or not. And we are much happier when our needs are met. We can’t get them met if we don’t speak up!

You both know how to treat each other

This one is about knowing and communicating what our boundaries are. Whether they be physical boundaries such as when and how we like to be touched or about our personal possessions, or emotional boundaries such as not taking responsibility for how the other person is feeling. We need to learn for ourselves what we are okay with and not okay with and communicate them to increase our sense of safety and respect with each other.

You retain your individuality

If you are always giving and other-focused, there is a danger that you ‘merge’ with your partner so it’s hard to tell where they end and you begin. We are attracted to people because of their uniqueness and quirks so you need time and space to be you and keep hold of yourself.

Intimacy, Vulnerability and Sex

When we are clear on our needs, how we want to be treated, what we enjoy and what we struggle with, we are opening up opportunities for real, honest, clear dialogue where we share our vulnerabilities, which fosters intimacy. Intimacy paves the way for sex. When we are confident in ourselves, that is sexy.

If you were putting off putting yourself first because you thought it was selfish and bad for your relationship, I understand, because that is what I used to think. I have learnt the hard way that a great relationship is built from very different foundations and they start with knowing, loving and putting yourself first.