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Author Topic: Appropriate priorities
techie
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In my last relationship, I was criticised for putting my mental health as a higher priority than my partner, in general. I never denied this. Is this an innapropriate priority that I need to rethink before I enter another relationship, or?

Examples of my mental health coming as a priority:
-Not wanting sex after panic attacks -> asking my ex to not initiate sex if I've had a panic attack recently
-Preferring to be at my house rather than his as his family often had a lot of yelling and it was really bad for my anxiety
-Getting very, very quiet during periods of extreme anxiety that didn't manifest themselves in panic attacks -> I'd talk about this afterwards, but my ex felt like his needs for communication were ignored
-Leaving arguments when I thought I could end up self-harming if they continued (after a calm statement explaining why I was leaving)

I generally feel that if I communicated pretty clearly about these things, both as a general concept and in specific incidents where they happened, I was doing the best that I could with the cards I've been given (which is having anxiety and depression). I don't feel, deep down, like this is an unreasonable priority. But I'm not a relationship expert, and he -was- pretty unhappy with how it made him feel like we couldn't connect. I just don't see how I could do this any better, aside from not having anxiety at all (which isn't... a thing available to me.)

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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That's definitely definitely definitely not an inappropriate priority!

It sounds like that partner needed to prioritise caring for you a bit more, i.e. not pushing for sex when you didn't want it, not pushing you into situations that would upset you and trigger your anxiety, giving you space to care for yourself during panic attacks, and doing what he could to prevent you being triggered to self harm.

It may be that he wasn't prepared to be in a relationship with somebody who has those needs. But I always think that when that is the case we should take responsibility for that, as those are our own issues.

For example I really don't think I could be in a close sexual relationship with someone who's depression was too similar to my own. I've had friendships where I've connected with someone but it's gotten very mutually destructive and we just had to leave the friendship behind. We both needed something else from the people we're close to and were able to take responsibility for that.

[ 06-25-2013, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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techie
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Alright! So I can go into my next relationship and be honest about the fact that my mental health is a big/main priority, and I'm not being weird or wrong or bad or 'not ready for a relationship' or anything like that?
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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Heck yes you can be honest about it, and heck no its not weird or wrong or bad. So go for it [Smile]

It seems like you guys both just had some needs which the other couldn't fulfil. It's just a shame that he had to communicate that incompatibility by blaming you.

It's not your fault and I think with a different partner who's a lot more self aware, having mental health needs shouldn't be a problem and those needs can even be the flip side of some really great things about you for which they value your relationship even more.

But the examples you gave really shouldn't be a big ask anyway. To not want sex when you've been upset and to want to pass on hanging out with someone's stressy family. For me it's really important that a partner is able to care for themselves, and I don't want anything from them which is hurtful for them... because that's what caring is about.

I feel like this person is perhaps not really ready for most relationships, i.e. where a partner (like most humans) needs something for themselves to be happy more than they are able to please their partner.

So yeah, if you start any new relationships that degree of caring is something which I think of as really reasonable to expect. And if someone doesn't feel prepared for at least you can know early that they're not really for you.

[ 06-25-2013, 02:08 PM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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techie
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Okay, awesome! Thanks =D
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Molias
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Hi techie,

Clearly Jacob has said some great stuff here, and I agree with all of it! But I wanted to throw in my own thoughts as well, because this is something I feel really strongly about.

Everyone has the right to establish needs and boundaries in a relationship, and ask that a partner respect them. If you tell someone what your boundaries are, and they think that they aren't compatible with how they want to structure a relationship, then they have the right to say "sorry, that won't work for me." And of course you have that right of refusal too, if a future partner asks you for things that you just aren't comfortable with, or aren't compatible with what you need to feel safe and happy in a relationship.

I don't think it's selfish to make sure you're taking care of yourself while you're in a relationship. Knowing things that you need to have happen in order to maintain your mental health is great; it doesn't mean that your priorities are out of whack. I think sometimes people talk about "making sacrifices" in relationships but compromising on your mental health is not a reasonable sacrifice, in my opinion. It's just a big and important part of self-care. =)

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moonlight bouncing off water
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Hey techie, Jacob and Molias have said pretty much everything that needs to be said, but I wanted to throw in my two cents as well.

The boundaries and needs that you outlined above are not only reasonable and logical, but also show a lot of self-awareness, maturity and ability to manage triggers. They demonstrate that you know what situations are likely to be problematic for you and know exactly what (super reasonable) things you need to do to either avoid those situations or turn them around so they are not an issue.

Given any of those situations I can't really see a response more reasonable than the ones you are rightfully seeking.

So while it is clearly important to outline these and other boundaries when you enter far enough into new relationships, that's really just about it being time to talk about boundaries, not about your boundaries being peculiar or extraordinary.

--------------------
~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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WesLuck
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I agree. Having a relationship should never mean you have to compromise your health, and I think it's AOK and great to value your health as the number one priority.
Posts: 540 | From: Australia | Registered: Feb 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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