Two common perspectives I’ve seen in our interviews and group discussions about relationships are people who focus on Me and people who focus on We. That is, their perspective is being driven by either individual concern or group concern.
Me people tend to see a relationship as two individuals that are each wholly responsible for their self, and have a mutual point of interest. This is often expressed like this, “If each person makes sure their needs are met, the relationship will be healthy.” Clear enough, right? Each person should be taken care of, so the group as a whole should be happy.
We people often approach relationships as an interdependency; that is to say, that the relationship is a third, separate entity. “If each person contributes to the shared interest (relationship/partner) then everyone has time to care for their other needs,” is a cosmmon description given by We people. So, many hands make light work.
In theory both approaches work. Many conflicts that I have seen come from places where partners have opposite approaches. One person gets very well taken care of and the other doesn’t.
Few of us apply just one approach in all situations. We have things that we are comfortable sharing and things that we like to approach strictly as self-interested individuals. As far as relationships go, it is good to be self-aware about places that we have strong preferences toward an individual or group mentality. Take a moment to think about what parts of your relationships that you expect to share, and what part you expect each partner to be personally responsible for.