It’s wonderful to share your life with someone you care about. You always have a constant accomplice, you support each other through highs and lows, and you share responsibilities. Being somewhat codependent is a normal part of any long-term relationship, but it’s also important to maintain your own independence. If you feel like you’ve become completely reliant on your partner, rather than simply receiving support from them, try some of these tips to reclaim your independence and strike a better balance between living your own life and sharing it with your partner.
1. Create more boundaries.
Be honest with yourself about how much codependence you want. Fears of abandonment, an obsessive need for approval from your partner, and low self-esteem are all signs of excessive codependence. If you believe you are overly dependent on your partner, sit down and talk about it. Schedule time apart if you live together. If you don’t live together, set aside some days of the week for yourself.
For example, you may have only known your partner for a few months, but you spend every night together. If it feels too much, try setting a weekly limit of spending weekends and one night during the week together.
Alternatively, if you live together, you could set aside 1-2 hours each night to spend time in separate rooms and unwind from the day.
Having boundaries in a relationship also helps to prevent resentment, which can really help it last!
2. Spend more time alone.
Being able to spend time alone allows you to feel more self-sufficient. It also allows you to unwind and reconnect with yourself. Take some time alone at home to think, reflect, read, journal, or do whatever makes you feel good. Alternatively, go out and do something you enjoy by yourself.
For example, you could go for a daily run through a nearby park by yourself to spend quality time alone with yourself and your thoughts.
Alternatively, you could spend one hour a day alone in a sunny corner of your home with a good book and a cup of tea to unwind.
3. Do separate social activities.
This allows you to switch off from relationship mode. Once a week, go out to dinner with friends without your partner. Alternatively, on Fridays, meet up with coworkers for happy hour before seeing your significant other.
You can also spend time alone with your family. For example, if you have nearby siblings, visit them once a week to catch up and spend some quality family time apart from your partner.
4. Maintain personal projects.
Do something you enjoy that is just for you. Personal projects can include hobbies, learning a new skill, or starting a business. If you stopped doing something you’re passionate about during your relationship, pick it up again and make time in your schedule to do it alone.
For example, perhaps you used to paint in your spare time but gradually stopped when your significant other entered your life. Reintroduce yourself to painting and make time for it in the evenings or on weekends.
Encourage your partner to pursue his or her own personal projects as well. That way, you can both share the cool things you’re working on with one another while also creating an encouraging, supportive environment in which to do them.
5. Set personal goals.
Having your own goals to strive for is essential to being your own person. These could be financial, physical, educational, professional, or travel objectives. Share your goals with your partner, but don’t rely on them to help you achieve them.
A good romantic partner should motivate you to achieve all of your goals. If your partner is not supportive of your personal goals, you may want to reconsider the health of your relationship.
6. Prioritize your needs.
When you’re in a serious relationship, it’s easy to lose sight of yourself. Personal needs can include mental, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual requirements. Identify your own needs and find ways to meet them without relying on your partner.
If you’re feeling out of shape, for example, sign up for some aerobics classes or join a gym to get back on track with your fitness goals.
Alternatively, if you are feeling lonely, schedule daily phone calls to family and friends.
Taking care of your partner’s needs is admirable, but don’t let it interfere with your own.
7. Practice being assertive.
Improve your ability to communicate with your partner about what you want and don’t want. When your partner asks you to accompany him or her on an errand or to a social activity that you do not want to attend, practise saying no. Alternatively, practise making it clear to your partner when you truly want to participate in certain activities or when certain things are extremely important to you.
For example, if your partner always chooses the restaurants you eat at on Friday nights, make it a habit to choose the restaurant once or twice a month.
Alternatively, if you always say yes to watching football with your partner but don’t like the sport, explain to them that you’d rather let them go do that with their friends and use the time to do something by yourself.
8. Keep your finances separate if you want.
Financial independence can be a significant component of feeling independent. If you want to be in a long-term relationship with your partner, sit down and discuss finances with them. Make it clear that you must maintain your own bank accounts and be financially independent in order to feel good about yourself and your relationship.
It’s perfectly fine if you want to open a joint bank account and put money into it for things like vacations or home expenses! To feel more independent, you may want to keep the majority of the money you need for living and personal expenses separate.
9. Take a solo vacation.
Traveling by yourself is an excellent way to reconnect with yourself. Rather than waiting for your and your partner’s schedules to align to go on a vacation together, plan one for yourself! Go on that dream backpacking trip across Europe, or head to an all-inclusive beach resort for some pampering and relaxation.
Being apart during your vacation allows you and your partner to miss each other. When you return, the romance is bound to become even more intense!
10. Work with a therapist if you’re struggling.
A therapist can assist you if you suspect you have codependency issues. Locate a therapist who specialises in relationship issues. Discuss your feelings with them and try to figure out where your lack of independence is coming from. They can assist you in developing additional strategies for increasing your independence in your relationship.
You and your significant other could also see a couples therapist if you believe you are both struggling to find your own independence in your relationship. It may contribute to the strength and health of your relationship!
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