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What exactly is the bare minimum?

by Gaby Agbulos

WHEN you’re in a relationship, there are certain things that you expect from your partner. And most of the time, the things that you expect from your partner may come from the couples that you see on TV, in films, or on social media. 

Why wouldn’t you want a Patrick Verona or a Mr. Darcy in your life, after all? Someone who will shower you with love and affection 24/7 and give you anything your heart desires? Of course, you want someone perfect because, honestly, why settle for less? 

The fact of the matter, though, is that real relationships are often far from perfect. They’re complicated, and in a lot of them, you have to get through a lot of fights and misunderstandings before you’re able to get to a good place. 

Some people often end up just taking their partners for granted, especially if they’ve been in a relationship for quite some time. Perhaps this is why the idea of the “bare minimum” started to come about in the past few years.

Defining the bare minimum

When someone talks about the bare minimum, it doesn’t just apply to relationships but to all aspects of life. This means that it’s the least possible effort that you can give to someone or something.

In a group project, you can submit something half-assed and still get a decent grade because you still contributed, even if your leader had to revise it from scratch just for it to make sense. In that situation, that’s the bare minimum.

In a relationship, the bare minimum varies. Some people say that getting flowers or having your partner pay for both of you on dates is the bare minimum.

To me, the bare minimum is showing up on dates but making no effort to plan them. It’s giving you gifts but only when they’re expected to. It’s congratulating you on your hobbies but not showing any interest in them. The bare minimum – from someone you’re dating anyway – is knowing that they’re there, but in reality, it doesn’t feel like they are. 

That’s my definition, though. It differs for everybody; what you want in a relationship may be different from others, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But that’s something you need to figure out on your own.

Figuring it out

When you enter the world of dating, there’s going to be a lot of things that you’re going to need to figure out: what do you want in a relationship? 

And, of course: what is the bare minimum for you? 

If you’re struggling to figure out what it is that you want exactly, here are some pieces of advice that might help you out.

  1. Don’t let others define it for you.

The fact of the matter is that not every partner is going to be able to provide you with things that others may consider to be the bare minimum.

For example, not every person you’re going to date will be able to afford to take you to fancy restaurants. Not every partner of yours is going to have a lot of free time, so you may not see them that often, too.

But that doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you. It just means that they have sh*t going on. And that’s okay.

Obviously, that isn’t an excuse to let your partner walk all over you; you still need to set boundaries, no matter the situation. All I’m saying is, don’t let anyone else decide what you want in a relationship.

  1. Don’t compare your relationship to other people’s.

During one of my relationships, I spoke to a friend about how I was upset because my partner wasn’t doing things that I often saw my friends’ partners do for them. I didn’t like that he didn’t spend that much time with me, for example, or how we’d always split the bill. 

While my friend understood where I was coming from, she also told me this: don’t use the relationships of others as the standard for your own, especially considering that you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.

There’s no problem with asking for advice from your friends, especially when you and your partner have hit a rough patch. 

But again, we all want different things from a relationship, and what your friends think shouldn’t be the sole basis for deciding how to move forward.

  1. Don’t settle for less than what you deserve. 

While it’s okay to be understanding in a relationship and to be happy with what you have, it’s also important to always trust your gut.

Do you feel satisfied with your relationship? Do you feel that your partner is giving you everything you need? Do you feel that your partner truly cares for you? Do they get excited when you talk about your interests? Do they want to meet your friends and family? Do they like being your partner, or do they just like having a partner around? 

It’s important to know what you consider the bare minimum in a relationship, like having good hygiene, being treated with respect, or sharing the same values.

But remember that you shouldn’t stop there when it comes to knowing what you want. 

Don’t settle for whatever’s there just because they’re… well, there. Though it may not feel like it, there’s always going to be someone else—someone who’ll treat you the way you deserve to be treated.

Whatever floats your boat

When I entered into a new relationship, I would tell my partner about how I felt sad because my ex never gave me flowers, which can be bought for just P50 near our house. 

Though my partner couldn’t afford to buy me any fancy flowers, he listened to me anyway, and the next time he walked me home, he picked flowers from a bush, giving them to me with a wide smile on his face. That, to me, was enough. More than enough, because when I told him about what I wanted, he listened.

And there’ll be some who’ll say that that’s the bare minimum, but it’s what made me happy. It’s what made me feel loved. That, to me, was so much more than the bare minimum because it was a moment so loving and so pure that no one else had ever given me before.

When it comes to deciding what the bare minimum is, it’s important to take your time and to take into consideration the person you’re dating as well as their circumstances. However, that doesn’t mean that you should set aside your standards.

It just means that you should think things through. 



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