A relationship is made up of two people who share common hobbies, interests, and feelings for one another, and who form a bond that is greater than the sum of its constituent parts. Although commitment to one another is one of the hallmarks of a successful relationship, it is also important for people in a relationship to maintain their own independence. Fortunately, by making time for yourself, communicating boundaries, and maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner, staying independent can be simple and even beneficial to your relationship.
Making Time for Yourself, Part 1
1. Develop interests and hobbies apart from your partner. Don’t let being in a relationship prevent you from doing what you want. Have hobbies and interests that you do not share with your partner to help you maintain your independence and sense of self.
Take advantage of this opportunity to find something you enjoy doing that your partner may not. This way, you can assert your independence while also engaging in a hobby that does not necessitate any sacrifice on the part of your partner.
Hobbies, in addition to providing a sense of independence, can have a significant impact on your overall well-being. Painting, writing, and hiking, for example, have been shown in studies to lower blood pressure, promote creative thinking, and foster a sense of fulfilment. Remember this when explaining to your partner why independent hobbies are beneficial!
2. Make a personal space for yourself. If you live with your partner, having a separate area of the house to yourself is critical to maintaining your independence. Set aside a space in the house where you can be alone and your partner will not bother you.
You should ensure that your partner does not bother you by communicating your desire for privacy and explaining the situation to them. Don’t just lock yourself in a room and refuse to tell your significant other where you are!
If you claim a portion of a shared residence as your own, make sure to fill the space with only your belongings, whether it’s a room or a corner of a room.
Your independent space can also be a public place where you can spend time away from your partner (e.g., a coffee shop or a public park). Your space should be private only within the context of your relationship, not necessarily from the rest of the world.
Encourage your partner to set aside a similar amount of time for themselves.
3. Spend time with your own family and friends. When you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to stop seeing your other friends and become overly reliant on your partner for social interaction. Maintain your independence by making time to see friends and family on a regular basis.
The frequency with which you see friends and family is ultimately determined by your own social needs. You may only need to go out once a week or once a month to maintain a healthy social life outside of your relationship.
When your relationship is going through a rough patch, your friends and family will be there to support you and keep you grounded. Remember, they adore you for who you are.
Spend time with your own friends as well as mutual friends of your partner to maintain your unique sense of identity.
4. When necessary, take a break from the relationship. Although you are in a relationship, you must also take care of your own needs as an individual. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to step away from a relationship to focus on yourself and your own needs.
This is more of a mental break than anything else, and it can last as long as you need it to. Taking a day (or even less!) to yourself can sometimes be enough to get you back on track.
Being able to be alone without your partner will boost your self-esteem and go a long way toward fostering independence. Prolonged absence will also have the unintended consequence of making your partner’s company more appealing!
Before embarking on your independent mini-vacation, make sure to communicate with your partner. Maintaining your independence should, paradoxically, be something your partner encourages you to do.
5. During your time off, stay true to your partner. Taking time away from your partner to maintain your independence does not imply spending time with other people. Maintain your relationship commitment by not betraying your partner’s trust when taking time off.
If you’re taking time off because you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to reclaim your independence, having an affair may seem like a tempting way to do so. Affairs, on the other hand, can be devastating when discovered by monogamous partners, and your relationship may not recover if you betray your partner’s trust in this way.
Reassuring your partner of your commitment is also an important aspect of taking time away from the relationship. Remember that open communication is critical.
6. Make a list of your personal goals and prioritise them. Being self-sufficient entails having a self-identity that is not dominated by your relationship and its effects on you. Don’t lose sight of the type of person you want to be; don’t sacrifice your personal goals for the sake of your relationship.
Talking to friends and family is a good way to periodically “check in” on yourself to see if you’re still the kind of person you want to be.
If you ever reach a point where you are no longer satisfied with who you are, it may be a sign that something (perhaps even the relationship) needs to change.
Part 2: Expressing Your Desires and Boundaries
1. Establish healthy boundaries in your relationship. Every healthy relationship has boundaries that respect each person’s personal independence and happiness. Communicate with your partner about establishing boundaries that will allow you to maintain your independence while also meeting your needs in the relationship.
For example, if there are things you are hesitant to do for your partner (for example, lying for them), tell them you are not willing to do so.
When setting boundaries, be direct, but also clear in your reasoning; make sure your partner understands that the boundaries you set have nothing to do with your feelings for them as a person.
When establishing boundaries, avoid using absolute language or threats. This is unrealistic and may result in your partner’s alienation.
2. Declare openly your desire for independence. Whatever you do to maintain your independence, you should keep your partner updated and reassured. Discuss your reasons for wanting to be independent with your partner, and remind them that you are still invested in the relationship.
Make sure your words are phrased in a way that adequately conveys your concerns while not offending your partner’s feelings. Put yourself in their shoes and consider how you would react if they were having this conversation with you. They may be offended because you want to spend less time with them and believe it is their fault.
Remember that open and honest communication about all issues is necessary for any healthy relationship.
3. Take a stand for what is important to you. While you should be willing to compromise and make sacrifices in a relationship, you should also maintain control over your own priorities. Be willing to stand firm on issues that are important to you, and don’t let your partner sway you away from them.
This is not to say that you should never make a compromise. Instead, decide which morals or values are non-negotiable for you and be willing to compromise on everything else.
Don’t alter your personality to please someone else. If you’re in a relationship with an introvert, make time for them as well as other interpersonal interactions.
For example, if evenly dividing chore responsibilities is important to you, express your feelings in a firm but respectful manner. Be willing to accommodate your partner where possible, but don’t let them sway you on issues that are important to you.
Part 3: Maintaining a Healthy Relationship
1. Encourage your partner’s independence and development. A healthy relationship must be balanced, with each partner investing in both the relationship and themselves. Encourage your partner to pursue their independence and maintain their sense of self-identity while you nurture your own.
Tell your partner, for example, that it is fine for them to spend time with their friends and family, to go to movies or concerts without you, or to have their own hobbies that they do not share with you.
As soon as possible, you should establish expectations for independence in the relationship. It will be much more difficult to foster independence in both partners if you are fighting against pre-existing codependent conventions in the relationship.
2. Expect your partner to not share all of your interests. Some people complain that their partner does not share their interests. A healthy relationship, on the other hand, should be between two distinct individuals. Reduce your expectations and remind yourself that you don’t need your partner’s approval to pursue your interests.
While shared interests and hobbies are often the foundation of relationships, it is unrealistic to expect your partner to share all of your interests and hobbies. Keeping this in mind will help you realise that it is acceptable to pursue your own independent hobbies.
3. Examine your mental health. Never let your relationship cause you to doubt yourself, your worth, or the validity of your hopes and dreams. Remember to take stock of how you’re feeling about yourself and your life on a regular basis, and don’t let your relationship take precedence over your own mental and emotional well-being.
Losing sight of one’s own goals and self-worth is a common problem that many people in relationships face. Remember that your self-validation is not dependent on being in a relationship.
4. If you require assistance, ask for it. When you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to become emotionally dependent on your partner. Being independent, on the other hand, necessitates the ability to seek that type of assistance elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance and seek help when you need it.
If you are a student, contact your school’s counselling centre and make an appointment to speak with a counsellor.
Friends and family who have been through relationships or with whom you feel comfortable being vulnerable are excellent sources of emotional support during difficult times.
Remember that being self-sufficient in a relationship does not imply going it alone!
5. Recognize whether the relationship has devolved into codependence or abuse. Codependent and abusive relationships are unhealthy for a variety of reasons and will undoubtedly stymie your efforts to achieve independence and growth. Keep an eye out for warning signs that your relationship is deteriorating.
Any type of abuse, whether physical, verbal, or emotional, can occur in an abusive relationship. Abuse occurs when your partner hits you, berates you, gaslights you, or emotionally blackmails you.
Healthy boundaries are critical in any relationship. You may be in a codependent relationship if you feel you have lost all of your boundaries and do not have an independent personal life.
Seek help if you are in an abusive relationship. Move in with family and friends for a while, or consider staying in a domestic violence shelter for a while.
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