Posted By: Kelly Seal Date: 07-21-2018 Comments: 0
Many of us crave partnership. We like the idea of having someone special around to celebrate accomplishments and support us through hardships. Most of all, it’s fun to spend time together on a regular basis, sharing activities as simple as watching TV, going to a concert, or grabbing coffee together after a Saturday morning run.
While partnerships are fulfilling in many ways, they also bring complications to our lives. When you’re in a relationship, it’s important to find a balance between relying on your partner and maintaining your independence.
Some people fear commitment for this reason. They don’t want to get too attached to someone because they don’t want to lose their hard-won independence. It’s very easy to get lost in a relationship, especially when it’s new and you’re head-over-heels in love. You may find yourself compromising too much, or giving up activities that you once treasured in order to make time for your partner. This is when you need to take a step back and reassess your role in the relationship, to acknowledge if you are sacrificing your desires for the sake of someone else’s happiness. If you are giving up too much, resentment can build over time.
Instead, let’s start with some healthy relationship practices to cultivate an interdependent partnership rather than a codependent one.
Following are some practical tips for maintaining your independence in a relationship:
Cultivate your social skills.
Let’s face it – some of us are introverts and prefer going out with extroverted partners because they do all of the heavy lifting in social situations. While it’s nice to sit back and enjoy their stories, what about your own voice? It’s necessary for all of us to cultivate social skills by approaching new people, striking up conversation, and putting ourselves out there. This is part of life, and helps us build confidence and independence.
As relationship expert Dr. Scott Lloyd said in an interview with Bustle: “A big problem with independence comes from underlying social anxiety…Helping to gain self-esteem through experience in social and/or work settings can help. Diversity of relationships is also key. Some people want to have just one partner in crime. But …If we have friends, family and work colleagues with whom we share meaningful experiences we have less chance of getting burnt out any relationship.”
Reaching out to others and forming good relationships outside of what you have with your partner is crucial to your overall well-being. Interaction with different people in new settings helps you grow as a person; it enriches your sense of self and strengthens your relationship over time.
Make separate plans.
When you and your partner make separate plans, you are fostering independence AND contributing to the relationship. What I mean by this is, fulfilling your own needs by cultivating friendships, pursuing new hobbies or attending events that you enjoy helps nourish you – which contributes to the relationship. Each of you is bringing something new back into the relationship. Making plans on your own is a good way to create healthy, strong boundaries, allowing you to fulfill your own needs in ways that your partner sometimes can’t.
Don’t rely on your relationship for fulfillment.
Many of us grew up on romantic comedies. We act like these stories reflect reality when we pursue romance, whether we like it or not. For example, many of us believe that we are somehow incomplete without a partner, and that our lives will automatically be happier once we find one. Cue handsome stranger and meet cute which leads to happily-ever-after.
Not so much. Of course, life goes on after the initial honeymoon period, and you and your partner will encounter struggles and conflict from time to time. Instead of looking for endless romance and a partner who makes you happy all the time, we should be looking at our relationships from a healthier perspective.
You don’t want your life to revolve around your significant other. When you rely on your partner for everything – including fulfilling all of your emotional needs, it puts a lot of strain on the relationship. Rather than putting all of that pressure on your partner to make you happy, know that each of us is responsible for our own happiness independent of a relationship.
With this in mind, think about how you can fulfill your own needs. Take some time to pursue a new hobby that excites you, or spend time alone so you can clear your mind and focus on you. The point is to create a space where you can see what makes you happy and bring it into your life. What can you do on a regular basis that brings joy? What about learning a new craft or exploring a new place? What else excites you?
It’s necessary to take steps to ensure you don’t lose yourself in the process of bonding with someone else. Relationships are great, but they can be even better when both partners are encouraging each other to be independent, too.