10 things you don’t owe anyone, not even your partner

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Love and relationships can be one of life’s greatest blessings. 

But they can also slide into toxicity, control and misery. 

Preventing this from happening has a lot to do with establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries. 

Let’s take a look at the essentials: things you don’t owe to anybody including your partner.

1) Your self-respect

Your self-respect is the starting point of any relationship. 

You need to respect yourself before anybody else can, and that honoring of yourself has to include having limits you won’t cross. 

Certain partners will tell you that you should do, say or agree to things you don’t want to because they want you to. 

For example, they may ask you to participate in sexual activities that you don’t want to do, or to stop attending religious services that they find silly. 

Asking you to consider things or changing is one thing, but demanding that you do what they want and not what you value is unacceptable. 

This involves surrendering your self-respect, which is why you should never agree to it. 

2) Your free will

Never surrender your free will, even to somebody you love. 

The idea may strike you as strange off the bat, because who would give up their free will?

But the truth is that it often takes place in increments a bit at a time before you really know what’s going on. 

First your partner tells you that she’d prefer you stop being friends with that one rude guy Dave, and before you know it she’s telling you what to wear and what events you have to attend. 

You now have a manager, not a girlfriend. 

If you don’t maintain your free will right from the get go there’s a serious chance of it sliding into you becoming completely controlled and having to give away your free will. 

3) Your beliefs

You should never give up or change your beliefs for a partner unless you voluntarily want to do so. 

Feeling obligated to stop or start believing something to make your partner happy is a very toxic core to a relationship

This may be controversial to say, since people do convert in order to marry and are clearly influenced by the beliefs of a partner. 

There’s a real distinction here, however: 

If you voluntarily choose to change your beliefs without any compulsion or feeling like you will still be loved even if you don’t change your beliefs, that’s one thing. 

But having the idea that you owe your allegiance to the beliefs of your partner or their faith is, in my view, a difficult start to a relationship and a difficult thing to maintain.

4) Your credulity

Believing in your partner and supporting them is one thing.

But choosing to believe things you know are likely untrue is absurd. 

Far too many people do this in relationships:

They say yes and support anything their partner does or says because they feel they owe this person their credulity. 

The result is a veneer of fakeness and inauthenticity that can spread over the whole relationship. 

I’m not saying to shout “you lie!” if you doubt what your partner’s saying, but don’t nod and smile if they’re claiming something absurd.

5) Your silence

When fights or disagreements happen, you may be told to shut up. 

Fights happen, but feeling like you “owe” it to your partner to be quiet when you really don’t want to be quiet is an awful feeling. 

Why should you?

Even if you are being a bit unreasonable, feeling that your voice needs to not be heard in order to continue being loved is actually really offensive if you think about it. 

So what if your partner doesn’t like what you’re saying at the moment:

Relationships aren’t always a walk in the park. 

“If you want to sing out, sing out,” as Cat Stevens advised

6) Your complicity

The next thing that you never owe anyone is your complicity. 

You may care about and love someone very much, but if they ask you to cover up a crime or help them do something that you are morally opposed to doing, you need to say no. 

That’s easy to write, of course. 

In the heat of the moment many of us feel compelled to bend or comply with the wishes of somebody who needs help and wants us to cover for them. 

The fact is that the more you try to get somebody you care about out of a jam the more you get dragged into their drama and also start feeling guilt for their own wrongdoing. 

It’s just not a good path to go down. 

7) Your friends

You don’t need to start or stop being friends with people in order to be loved. 

Any partner who tells you this is eventually going to disrespect you in even more personal and hurtful ways. 

If your partner raises concerns about friends you have or encourages you to be friends with his or her pals, that’s one thing!

Maybe you will, maybe you won’t!

But feeling obligated like it’s a condition of the relationship is a horrible place to be. 

Your friendships are your choice and you don’t owe anybody the right to command you about who to befriend or drop as a friend. 

8) Your money

Choosing arrangements about sharing accounts or money is up to individual couples or their beliefs. 

But anybody who makes you feel that you owe them your money as a condition of being with them is, in my view, a toxic partner

The fact is that being too tight-fisted with money in a relationship can be a problem; but so can being overly generous!

Your choice to give money to a partner is up to you and should never be compelled or pressured in any way. 

Let’s face it:

If your partner truly loves you, they won’t love you more or less based on whether you let them use your credit card. 

9) Your physical health

Everyone in a relationship who cares about their partner will do things to care for them. 

This could be cooking, cleaning, massages or even just giving them a ride to or from work sometimes. 

But if you find that your physical health is suffering as a result of what you do for your partner it may be time to reassess. 

Wanting to be there physically for the person you love is a noble thing. 

But feeling that you owe that or have to give all your life’s energy to your partner is another thing entirely and can leave you feeling drained and resentful. 

Make sure that you never give away all your physical life force and don’t become exhausted out of a feeling that you “must” give every ounce of your energy to the one you love. 

10) Your mental health

Your mental health is yours to protect and cherish. 

Many things happen in life that are outside all of our control, of course, but you do owe it to yourself to look after your mental health. 

Caring for your partner and empathizing with them is a wonderful attribute. 

But feeling like you are responsible for curing or helping your partner be happy or mentally well is something you should never believe. 

You do not owe your partner mental well-being. 

You may try your best to love, comfort and talk to the person you care for, but you should never feel that it’s somehow up to you to “fix” them or give them all the answers they are looking for.

The valuable connections we make do so much to enrich life and bring people together, but mental health and struggles with mental health are never the responsibility of a romantic partner.

Standing up for yourself 

It’s crucial to have your boundaries in a relationship

Any partner who truly loves you will respect those boundaries and have their own limits that they also enforce. 

Love and affection is a beautiful thing, but if it’s not conjoined with respect it can quickly turn into something toxic and controlling. 

It’s important to always stand up for yourself and know what you don’t owe to anybody, even somebody you love. 

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