Romance and self care: Students discuss managing self-care within romantic relationships


Photo courtesy of Harry Resnik

Sophomore Harry Resnik poses with his long distance girlfriend Maeve O’Dell on Jan 21. Self-care has been an important part of maintaining their 14 month long relationship. “Being in a relationship can be both helpful and harmful for self care in some situations. On the one hand it’s nice to be able to choose to have someone who’s there to support you or comfort you, but sometimes things are easier without as much engagement,” Resnik said.

A hot bath. A run after school. An hour reading by the fire. Self-care comes in many forms and looks different for each person, but the importance of it is undeniable. This is particularly true for high school students who are still figuring out their own identity and establishing individuality. However, being in a romantic relationship can make finding time for self-care even more difficult. Dating another person can be emotionally fulfilling but sometimes draining. Being able to maintain a healthy relationship is dependent on the student’s ability to create boundaries and prioritize their own mental health.  

Many students experience their first romantic relationships in high school, which means it is their first time learning to balance their partner’s needs as well as their own. 

“Having a partner can sometimes create pressure to constantly look out for them or to prioritize them, which could definitely affect you negatively if you forget yourself,” sophomore Harry Resnik said. 

Being in an unhealthy relationship can also be detrimental to one’s self image and ability to prioritize their own self-care. 

“While in a relationship recently there was a major lack of communication and respect, which made the self-care aspect of the relationship much harder,” sophomore Rachel Keehn said.

Yet, in some cases having a supportive partner can actually help students focus more on their own self-care than they did before the relationship. 

“The only thing was that I became more aware of [my self-care]. Taking care of others always came naturally to me; so when my boyfriend directed so much attention to myself, it let me actually pay attention to how I was feeling and what I could do to help myself,” sophomore Erik Martinez said.

Though finding time for self-care can be more difficult with a partner, in some cases the pandemic has forced people to spend more with themselves to establish healthy boundaries.

“I got into a relationship during the pandemic so I’ve always had lots of excess time to practice self-care. My definition of self-care is spending some time alone in peace and quiet so I’ve definitely been able to maintain that pretty well,” senior Juliana Lange-Asschenfeldt said.

Erik Martinez poses with boyfriend Nick Pomainville in mid December. The couple started dating in October and make sure to prioritize self-care in their relationship. “Having a boyfriend is great, but you know you best. If you feel like you need to take some time for yourself then do. You have to come first or else things will go downhill quickly,” Martinez said. (Photo courtesy of Erik Martinez)

Maintaining a sense of individuality can also be challenging for students in relationships, especially since high school is such a formative time. However, students who can balance those aspects of their life and keep doing things that make them happy tend to be able to sustain a strong sense of self-independence. 

“Generally when you spend a lot of time with another person, you do lose a part of your individuality though that’s not my experience because Stevie and I do a lot of the same things. We both snowboard, we both like to skateboard so it’s more my identity with another person, it’s a different dimension of my identity. It’s not a core part of me that is being changed, I view it more as an addition,” Lange-Asschenfeldt said.

At the end of the day, you can only be the best version of yourself when you are taking care of yourself by doing the things you love, listening to your own needs and communicating with your partner. 

“Communication! You can’t deal with your problems if you don’t talk about them first. Make sure you always feel heard. Also, if you’re treating your relationship like an obligation that you have to take care of, a menial task that you have to do or a stressful environment that you dread being in, then that’s a major sign that you’re not happy with that person. Either get out of there or talk to them to try and work things out. Always remember to be kind to yourself,” Martinez said.