Relationships are about sharing our individualities, differences, and building a life with another person that is solely for the two of you. But more than that, it is about growing as an individual and having another person to share that with.
Ever feel like when you’re single you want to be in a relationship, but when you’re in a relationship you want the freedom of being single? When I say this, I am not talking about sleeping or dating around, I’m specifically talking about being able to have your own life, create your own memories, and grow as an individual while in a relationship.
The trick with relationships, I’m learning, is to be able to grow on your own while you’re growing with your partner and being able to maintain a sense of freedom and sense of self. You must be able to stand on your own two feet, and be proud of what you have, who you are, and what you’re doing, while your partner does the same.
I truly believe this is the pathway to the healthiest of relationships, and that is what I am constantly trying to strive for.
I’ve seen myself go through phases where I am more or less dependent on my relationship. I’ve seen it consume me, and I’ve seen it compliment me. What I am striving for is the latter, 100% of the time.
I truly believe that lots of times couples that are moving forward become scared of commitment because they are afraid of losing themselves as the relationship becomes more of an “us” pronoun. Thats what we fear – or at least what I fear – is losing my independence in a committed relationship. But that isn’t the way it has to be. Here’s how I’m learning to be “independently dependent” within my relationship:
1. Supporting each other inspires confidence
The best advice I’ve heard relating to this is that “partnership enables independence”. Supporting one another in each others ambitions encourages independence. If the foundation of your relationship is secure, it can be easier to put yourself out there and take risks. This way, you also know that you have a support system and someone to help deal with feelings of discouragement and feel less overwhelming.
2. Know what you bring to the table
Knowing what you offer the relationship is a measure of confidence. Knowing that you are worthy and deserve love helps you feel grateful for your person repeatedly. In healthy relationships, each person gets that “how did I get so lucky with this one?” feeling. Knowing what you bring as an individual feeds your relationship, and helps maintain your individual health.
3. Create my own time and space
I had an ex one time tell me we are too different to be together, we get along in most ways, but we enjoy different activities. I always thought that was a load of crap. Now, I’m seeing that its important to bond over a lot of things, but to also have your separate interests, needs, and preferences. This way you each are taking the time to do your own thing, and have more to share together and dabble in (whether you love the other’s activities or not). Pursuing your own hobbies and interests means you get to share your partner the things you love to do. Also, by taking this separate time, you have the opportunity to miss one another and focus on other hobbies, friendships, and self-care. And, this reminds you that you are an interesting person on your own, without your relationship status. This is a little easier to do when you’re in a long distance relationship because we have to be living our separate lives, but I still wouldn’t recommend that – I miss being in the same zip code.
4. Compliment, not complete
While listening to friend’s relationships and working through my own, I am learning that although you can love all of your significant other, this person simply cannot be every, single thing that you can need. That is completely unrealistic. What I am realizing is that in a healthy relationship, we need to accept that each person will always act in the best interest for the both of you. This sometimes means that prioritizing your person’s individual happiness, so that they can carry that into the relationship. Each person is responsible for nurturing their half. It’s not about being and doing everything to complete each other, but rather find someone that meets your core needs and feeds your individual happiness. The best advice I’ve heard regarding this is “expecting that your partner will compliment you, not complete you”.