Soulful singer, Anthony Hamilton, penned a song detailing what his partner gets when he offers his best self to her. His melodic voice sang about breakfast in bed, smiling a lot, having outrageous conversations, and loving being close to that special person. His song was the blueprint for some good quality time with his lady!
What else does giving the best of you entail in a relationship? You are attentive to your partner and curious about what makes them happy…or upset. You strive to be a good listener and a solid communicator. You are affectionate and loving and spontaneous. You are genuinely invested in doing your best to maintain the relationship. You buy her favorite ice cream and his favorite beer. You consistently put the seat down in the bathroom. Birthdays are remembered, and all the favorite things are cataloged for quick reference. You’re ready to be the best significant other that you can be!
Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. The narrative changes when you question what the best of you is. You may find yourself in a place where you do not know what your best self looks like. A chain of life events occurred, and they rocked your foundation! Your confidence took a hit, and your self-esteem is low. To protect the steadily slipping facade, you smile through the discomfort and hope no one sees the cracks along the edges. The relationship you had (or want) is slowly slipping from your grasp as you struggle to hold on to the last part of yourself. It is a simultaneous push-and-pull.
These emotions are tied to vulnerability, and she brings her ugly cousins fear and unworthiness along for the self-discovery ride. Social work scholar, Brene Brown, has a career rooted in vulnerability and shame research. In 2012, she stated, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity,” while emotional vulnerability is “risky, uncertain, and exposed.” As 2022 comes to an end and 2023 begins, the definitions remain undefeated.
With a concentrated effort, we can give the best of ourselves to our mates. Here are a few nuggets to get you started in the right direction.
- Practice Healthy Communication: Be mindful of body language and tone. Choose your words carefully. Turn off the TV and put the down the cell phone to offer your undivided attention.
- Express your Emotions: Release those feelings. Don’t bottle them up. Journal if you cannot find the words. Explore the use of physical outlets and meditation as a release.
- Own your Mess: Acknowledge the challenges and identify what needs to change. Seek help with it.
- Learn your Triggers: Identify them and work to understand why these are sore spots for you. Knowledge is power.
- Demand More: Never stop growing in your relationship. Continue to evolve into your best self.
Relationships can be a beautiful part of our stories if we let our true selves shine. The forces of fear, shame, insecurity, and doubt will always persist if we never push the limits of their existence. Therapy is a safe place to begin this journey if you need help. Couples and individual therapy offer a space to dissect the feelings of shame, process the challenges with sexual intimacy, and identify the external factors that disrupt healthy communication. Therapy can offer guidance in identifying the source of conflict, increase empathy and understanding, and build a safe, open sexual relationship.
–Chenita Rountree, LCSW, LCAS
Brown, Brene (2012). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Gotham Books.
Chenita Rountree is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in North Carolina and sees clients in our Durham office and via telehealth. To schedule an appointment with Chenita or any of the therapists at Carolina Sexual Wellness Center, call 919-297-8322.