Peanut butter and jelly go together. Oh how yummy. They are a perfect combination, but each one is perfect alone also.
Peanut butter is not only good with jelly. It can be quite delicious in combination with other ingredients, and the same is true for jelly. Each one is its own individual ingredient, and when combined together or with other ingredients, that flavor is only enhanced.
Relationships are a lot like peanut butter and jelly. You by yourself are also a tasty, desirable ingredient, and so is your significant other.
We are each a unique, delicious ingredient first, and when we’re combined with the right person, our individual lives can be enhanced and fully supported. If we fail to realize our compatibility with other things and other people outside that combination, we set ourselves up for trouble: codependency, frustration, resentment and disappointment. We can even lose our faithfulness to ourselves.
Be faithful to them and to yourself. Faithfulness sounds old-fashioned, I know. But fidelity can be the foundation of so many valuable things in life, as long as it’s agreed on both sides, and as long as it includes being faithful to yourself and your own individual core beliefs.
Don’t get so meshed with Mr. Peanut Butter or Ms. Jelly that you forget who you are as an individual.
You were a unique individual before you met your significant other, and the same is true for them. So many times, when lives are merged, there is a tendency to lose that individualism.
We can forget about the other things we love. We forget about our individual passions. We forget about our friends, and merge together like peanut butter and jelly with another. The merging together with another is awesome, but we must not lose ourselves in the process.
Maintaining your own individualism is essential for a healthy relationship. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
What are you passionate about?
What is your purpose?
What do you enjoy?
Your individual interests may be completely different from your mate’s passion, purpose, and what they enjoy. That’s the beauty in a relationship. Each can learn and grow from the other through the sharing of individual experiences.
There are many ingredients that I merge well with that enhance my life. Spending time with those ingredients is important. Making an effort to keep up with them helps me maintain wholeness, as well as the simple act of spending time alone. For me, that is part of faithfulness to myself.
The role of a partner is to love, respect and support their significant other in their passions and the things they enjoy, to allow them time to be with their friends, pursue their passions, and participate in things that bring them individual joy.
When we are stuck too closely to our mate like peanut butter and jelly, it can feel confining. There is freedom in allowing the other person to be who they are, and you who you are, with no expectations that you must always be together doing the exact same things.
Be who you are. Do what makes you happy. When you are happy, it makes for a happier relationship. Spend quality time stuck together like peanut butter and jelly, but also make sure you spend time doing you.
Otherwise that delicious sandwich will become sticky, stale and not taste so good after a while.
Vince Shifflett lives and loves in Atlanta. What’s your experience? Is your relationship combo meal coming up tasty or stale? Let him hear from you at vinceshifflett.com
This column originally appeared in Q magazine. Read the full issue below, and pick up a hard copy around town each week.