Without intentional effort, relationships get stale.
And while communication, date nights, romantic gestures, and great sex will definitely add a boost to your love life, sometimes what we really need to do is improve our relationship by improving our relationship with ourselves.
In my opinion, the three best places we can focus our energy when it comes to improving our relationship to ourselves are the realms of rest, play, and independence. Allow me to explain.
If we aren’t well rested, we’re irritable.
If we haven’t had any sense of unstructured play in our lives, then we’re irritable, grumpy, and boring.
And if we feel like we have too much intimacy in our lives without any balancing independence, then we can grow to resent our relationship because it seems to take up too much of our mental bandwidth.
Here are some of the best ways that you can nurture and develop rest, play, and independence in your life, in order to ultimately benefit your intimate relationship.
1. Recharge your relationship by resting
To rest… to refresh… to give up productivity and enjoy the process of unwinding.
I, like an increasing number of people in the developed nations, have a very intellectual/heady job. I write words with my mind, I give people 1-on-1 advice with my mind, and I create video courses with my mind.
When it’s time for me to unwind, something that slows the constant chatter in my brain is always best.
For me, the most effective forms of rest are exercise, reading fiction, and going into float tanks (commonly known as sensory deprivation tanks).
One of the best ways to get out of your head and into your body is to move. Walking, dancing, having sex… whatever form of movement you find most enjoyable, do that.
Reading fiction is one of the best ways to stimulate your mind while also momentarily escaping your reality in a healthy way. I recently read this book and it absolutely gutted me. Truly, the saddest book I’ve ever read. I bawled for hours. And if you’ve been following me for any length of time you’ll know that I love to cry. It’s so healing!
– Float tanks
I’ve never written about float tanks before but they’ve been one of my secret weapons for over a year.
I’m a highly sensitive person (HSP) and the world can often feel like it’s constantly too stimulating. I feel people’s feelings deeply, I’m sensitive to light and sound, and I order my Starbucks drinks at kids temperature in order to not burn my tongue (true story).
Float tanks have consistently been one of my best places of refuge that I’ve been going to for a while. They’ve really taken off in popularity over the past few years and you can find multiple options of places to go in basically every major city (at least all of the major cities that I’ve been to in my past three years of travelling).
For those of you that have never heard of float tanks, it’s basically a big pod of salty water that you float in with the goal being one of weightlessness and sensation-lessness. You see nothing, you hear nothing, and you feel nothing (physically, with your body) for an hour, and you get to be completely alone with your thoughts without any outside stimulation competing for your attention.
2. Recharge your relationship by playing
I define play as purposeless, unstructured fun.
What feels like play to one person could feel like torture to the next… so this section is highly individualized.
Here are some examples of things that have worked really well for myself and some of my long-term clients.
– Bowling with friends
– Trampoline dodgeball (yes, it’s a thing)
– Playing catch in the park
– Kite surfing
– Rent bikes and ride around town (by yourself or with friends) with no definite aim
– Play musical instruments with friends, even if none of you are technically “good” at them
Also, play doesn’t have to be a thing that you go out and intentionally do. It can be a way that you interact with your entire life.
I was recently in a grocery store with my girlfriend at the start of a little cabin getaway vacation (which is where I’m writing this article from right now) when I told her to throw a cucumber to me from about 12 feet/4 metres away. She tossed it to me over two aisles of produce and I caught it. She doesn’t have a very good throwing arm (her words) and so the fact that she was willing to try and the subsequent worried face that she made while doing it infused the moment with an unexpected moment of play… and it was one of the highlights of the day.
So play is available to us, in every moment, if we are creative enough to look for it.
(Further reading: super-genius and my personal friend Charlie Hoehn has written extensively about how play is the cure for anxiety.)
3. Recharge your relationship by cultivating your sense of independence
Intimacy and independence are constantly butting heads with each other in our lives.
Our intimate relationship needs face time to thrive, but our relationship to ourselves also needs nurturing if we are to feel whole, healthy, and complete.
Here are a few things you can do to work on your relationship to numero uno (aka you).
– Work on your passion projects
What are the things in your life that you feel like you’ve been wanting to do for a while now, but have been consistently neglecting? Starting a side business? Writing a book? Taking a road trip? Starting up a new hobby?
Do the things you know that you want to do. Follow your bliss… it won’t lie to you.
– Have friends only time
One of the most recharging ways to reconnect with yourself and your sense of independence is to have time with your friends (with your partner absent).
You can book a weekly hangout (poker night, movie night, book club etc.) with your friends. You can have a monthly hangout. Or you can have an annual weekend/week-long getaway somewhere out of town to reconnect with each other.
Some of the most deeply recharging weeks of my life have been spent with 5-30 of my friends in remote locations around the world with no partners allowed.
My grandmother, who has been happily married for over 50 years, frequently mentions the emotional benefits of her annual “girls trip” where her and her friends have time to themselves where they “don’t have to take care of husbands, kids, plants, or pets” for an entire week.
If you prioritize time with close friends without your significant other, you’ll undoubtedly have fun, and it feels refreshing to be able to come back to your partner (after having missed them) with stories that they weren’t involved in. Hooray for rest and independence!
– Take yourself out on solo dates
As a far-leaning introvert, I could write an entire article on this point alone.
Solo dates are great. Whether you take yourself out to a movie, to a spa, to do some form of exercise, or anything else that appeals to you, time alone is probably the fastest route to recharging your individual batteries.
How To Recharge Your Relationship From The Inside Out
It’s as simple as that…
Consciously invest in your rest, play, and sense of personal independence and you’ll recharge your relationship from the inside out in no time at all.
Sometimes the best way to recharge your relationship is to turn your attention away from it, and that’s exactly what I’m suggesting that you do.
Dedicated to your success,