We know we should go the extra mile to make our partner feel special, but being overly selfless isn’t always a good thing.

When we give up too much of ourselves in a relationship, we may no longer have any time for the things we enjoy doing, or worse, are denied the freedom to stand by the values we believe in and, well, be ourselves. This can make us resentful and cause us to start sabotaging the relationship by picking fights.

By putting some of our needs first, we allow ourselves to be happy, which will in turn make us better parters.

As Jessica Lamb, Psychotherapist and Founder of Relationship Matters, says: “At times, being selfish is setting boundaries. It’s saying to your partner, ‘This is important to me and part of who I am, can you accept it and honour them?’”

Relationships are all about compromise and commitment, but sometimes, it’s really OK to focus on yourself.

Here, seven things you should be selfish about in a relationship:

1. Career goals

You're probably at a stage where you're building your career. While it's essential that you set aside time for your partner, you shouldn't feel bad about devoting time and energy to your career.

A partner who has your best interests at heart will be supportive of you chasing your dreams. 

 

2. Love language

We all feel loved in different ways. You may feel most loved when the two of you sit and cuddle for hours, but he may feel that way when you cook dinner or do his laundry.

"It's important that you share with your partner the ways you feel loved, and to ask him to show you in these ways. You should then let him do the same, says Jessica.

See also: Does a happy marriage really lead to a healthier heart?

 

3. Time alone

"Everyone needs time alone to recharge, reflect and self-appreciate," says Cindy Leong relationship coach and co-founder of Relationship Studio and Divine Connect.

"It can even be when you exercise, as some people feel more recharged after working out."

See also: Learning to compromise: 6 ways for a healthier marriage

 

4. Time with friends

While you may sometimes sacrifice time with friends for him, you shouldn't feel pressured to do so on a regular basis. 

"Your friends were an important part of your life before you met him...so you need to continue nurturing the friendships," says Jessica. 

Plus, you're going to need them to vent about your relationship issues, right?

 

5. Money

We don't mean you should be selfish with your money, but that you should always set aside a monthly sum for yourself. Even if you share a joint account with your partner, you shouldn't be putting all of your earnings into it.

"It's important to maintain some form of financial independence so you have control over your life decisions," says Jessica.

In addition, if you're making your own money, you shouldn't be made to feel bad about shopping as long as it's within your means. 

Talking about money early in the relationship helps you figure out your compatibility.

"Knowing your partner's outlook on money tells you if you're on the same page, and it he's a suitable partner for you," says Violet Lim, Chief Relationship Officer of Esync and co-found of Lunch Actually Group.

"Even if the both of you have different values, you can think of ways to resolve potential problems before they get too big."

 

6. Religion

Religion is a very personal thing, and some people only date others of the same faith. If you and your partner are of different religions, you shouldn't feel pressured to give up your beliefs for him and vice versa.

"Inter-faith relationships can work out if there's mutual understanding and acceptance," says Violet. 

 

7. Self-development 

We're constantly trying to learn new skills and improve ourselves - it's one of the ways we show self-love. 

If you want to try something new but your partner doesn't, you shouldn't have to drop it for him. 

"Even though you may prefer working as a pair or embarking on a journey together, you shouldn't be deprived of self-development. Instead, you should meet your own needs, which makes room for self-actualisation (the fulfilment of your talents and potential)," says Cindy. 

 

See also: Boost your love life! 10 things happy couples do​

This article was first published in Cleo Singapore.