I often say that you have to have your whole bowl of ice cream before you have your cherry on top, referring to how it’s important to have a sense of yourself, who you are, and what you want before you introduce a relationship into your life. It’s a romantic notion to feel as though you want someone to complete you, but it doesn’t necessarily set you up for the healthiest relationship.

Ice cream is unique in that it has to be just the right temperature in order to be fully enjoyed. If it’s too warm it becomes mushy soup and if it’s too cold it becomes completely frozen and inedible. Relationships are the same way.

We can start with the soupy ice cream metaphor. If you don’t have a strong sense of your own identity and don’t know your wants and needs in a relationship, it’s very easy to compromise so much of yourself that you become one with the other person and lose all sense of yourself. What happens then is when that person is no longer a part of your life so much of who you’ve now become leaves with them., and you’re left with a much harder time trying to pick up the pieces and reclaim yourself. This is similar to how if you put a cherry on top of soupy ice cream the two become one and so much of the ice cream leaves with the cherry if you were to dig it out.

Just the opposite can happen if your sense of self is too rigid and you aren’t flexible enough to allow someone into your life for whom you might have to make small compromises. This is similar to the ice cream being so frozen solid that the cherry would slide off and not connect in any way.

Instead, what you need is a perfect balance that is solid enough that the ice cream has the integrity to stand on its own, while still being soft enough to hold the cherry on top. This balance of independence and permeability allows you to accommodate the wants and needs the other person might have in the relationship, without having to compromise your own.

If you’re struggling with past or current relationships in your own life, please call Specialized Therapy Associates‘ intake specialists today at (201) 488-6678, to schedule an appointment so that your ice cream can be a healthier temperature.