If you don’t meet your own emotional needs early on in a relationship, you’ll feel it later. Plus, it has the potential to really mess with your connection with your guy.

To illustrate what I’m talking about, think about the last time you were craving something.

I’m not talking about wanting something. I’m talking about CRAVING something. Feeling a level of desire that verges on obsession.

For example, a lot of people crave sweets. And the results of a recent study suggest that sweetness in the mouth triggers a “neurological reward” as powerful as cocaine.”[1]

No wonder we crave sugar!

How do you defeat a craving for sweets? One way is to eat a protein-rich breakfast. New research shows that a solid breakfast with plenty of protein “may lower food cravings later in the day.”[2]

Weird as it may sound, meeting a legitimate need early on can eliminate an empty feeling later.

The very same process plays out in relationships, too.

A great example is the classic case of the woman who lacks confidence. She starts dating someone. He dotes on her, but it’s never enough. She’s needy for affirmation, no matter how much he gives. She feels insecure in the relationship if he’s not doting on her all the time.

Why? Because she STILL lacks confidence. He’ll never satisfy her “relationship craving” for validation. In the end, it just messes with the foundation of the relationship.

But if you can cover certain emotional bases before things get serious, you can stop unproductive relationship cravings before they start. Instead of wanting something he can’t give, you’ll be able to ENJOY the relationship.

That’s so much better than feeling like you’re not getting what you need. Which begs the question, what’s the relationship equivalent of a good breakfast?

Psychologists call it “self-care.” I have seven super-easy suggestions[3] for injecting some self-care into your daily routine.

1. Know your no’s.

Make a literal list of things you don’t like to do. It might include optional activities you don’t enjoy (like seeing horror movies), or limiting when you do some things (like not checking work email at night). Then don’t do those things.

2. Don’t skimp on sleep.

Sleep can help keep your appetite in check, boost cognitive ability, lift your mood, help your body heal, and even lower your blood pressure.[4]

3. Workouts help you work stuff out.

Besides burning calories and toning muscle, exercise improves your mood, super-charges your energy levels, and helps you get better sleep.[5]

4. Give meditation a try.

Mediation keeps your brain young, works as a natural antidepressant, helps you concentrate, and reduces anxiety.[6]

5. Do the family thing.

Time with family can be very rewarding. Who doesn’t like to feel loved? And if you’re not on the best of terms with your biological family, consider adjusting your definition of “family” to include what I call “chosen family” – your friends that are like family.

6. Be completely chill at least once a day.

Every day, spend at least a few minutes doing something completely relaxing. Take a bath, go for a short walk, or just veg on the couch without trying to accomplish anything.

7. Be completely selfish at least once a day.

Every day, do something purely for your own pleasure. Hang out with a friend, read fiction for fun, or treat yourself to a really good meal.

Self-care FTW.

Get serious about taking care of yourself. When you do that, you’re also taking care of your relationship.

If you’re not in a relationship right now, self-care is an investment in your future. If you’re with someone right now, self-care will only make it better.

Either way, self-care is an essential part of romance that rocks.

[1] Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH (2007) Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. PLoS ONE 2(8): e698. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000698

[2] “Eating This For Breakfast Reduces Food Cravings Later in The Day.” PsyBlog. N.p., 17 Oct. 2016. Web. 20 July 2017.

[3] Michael, Raphailia, MA. “What Self-Care Is – and What It Isn’t.” PsychCentral. N.p., 13 Aug. 2016. Web. 20 July 2017.

[4] Blahd, William, MD. “The Healing Power of Sleep.” WebMD. WebMD, 06 Oct. 2016. Web. 20 July 2017.

[5] “Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 13 Oct. 2016. Web. 20 July 2017.

[6] Walton, Alice G. “7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change The Brain.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 09 Feb. 2015. Web. 20 July 2017.

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