Posted By: Kelly Seal Date: 07-04-2016 Comments: 0
Being single definitely has its advantages – anyone who is married and/or has kids can tell you that. They might look upon you with envy, remembering the days when they could spontaneously choose to see a movie on a Wednesday night without having to check in with someone else, or take a last-minute trip with their friends to Vegas if the opportunity presented itself.
So, it’s only natural that some small part of us fears to be in a long-term relationship. Being coupled up means that there is an end to the fun and spontaneity. You are now part of each other’s lives, and a lot of time is spent negotiating where you will go, who you will be with, and what you will do – decisions you used to make on your own.
If you’re single, you may believe that relationships mean the death of freedom. But let’s get real. On a deeper level, there is a fear of losing your independence – and your identity – when you merge your life with someone else’s. This creates a conflict in perception that leaves you with only two choices. You can have freedom (personal identity) or the relationship (merging of identities), but you can’t have both. This perception simply isn’t true.
You won’t lose your hard-won independence and identity should you commit to one person. In fact, if it’s the right relationship for you, then you will discover that your independence is an essential part of maintaining a good relationship and continuing to cultivate your identity.
Let me tell you a secret. Being in a relationship is not the end of your story as an individual; it is the beginning of a new journey to discovering who you are.
The cornerstone of a partnership is to honor both the relationship and yourselves as individuals, which means understanding and supporting your partner’s needs and preferences without losing yourself and neglecting your own in the process.
Your partner helps you understand yourself more deeply because only in intimate relationships can we reveal ourselves so vulnerable. When you live with someone and interact with each other every day, the pretenses drop. You show yourself fully – all of your flaws as well as your strengths. There is freedom in being vulnerable in a relationship.
“Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves,” states Brene Brown in her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.”
This idea might make you uncomfortable. Maybe in previous relationships, your partner cheated, or you gave up parts of yourself that you don’t want to sacrifice again. All your experiences are valuable and true. You don’t want to relive past drama and lose your own identity in the process. You want to continue experiencing the freedom you have cultivated since.
But past relationships do not determine how your future relationships will play out. You can make different choices in a new relationship. When you learn to embrace your authentic self – the one with flaws, demons, and fears – you allow your partner to embrace his, so that he can be his true self.
When you meet the right person for you, instead of feeling caught up in what your partner expects of you, you can relax in your partner’s acceptance. You are able to communicate more freely and truly be yourself.
There is nothing more freeing than being yourself. When you and your partner have a mutual respect, understanding, and love for each other, there is a lot of room for both of you to pursue your dreams and live the life you want because you feel supported. It is the best of both worlds – freedom within the context of a secure relationship.