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We’ve all been there – you meet someone great, fall in love, and want to spend all of your time with them.
They’re amazing, after all, so what’s wrong with fully immersing yourself in the honeymoon phase?
Despite how great your partner and relationship is making you feel, it’s really important to maintain some independence.
Being independent in a relationship is great for you, but it also means that the partnership is going to be healthier and is more likely to work out long-term.
1. Enjoy alone time.
We know, we know – why be alone when you can be with the person you love?
We’re not saying that you need to massively limit how much you see your partner, but you do need to actively work on spending some time alone!
This is a really good way to help yourself reset a little bit and check in with yourself.
When we’re with a partner all the time, especially during the early days, we lose our independence and get so caught up in being in the relationship that we forget to check how we actually feel about it all.
Sometimes, it just happens like a whirlwind and we’re left feeling happy but slightly passive – we didn’t actively choose to move in, and yet here we are, every day, spending every waking moment at their place with them.
By having some time to yourself, you can see and think clearly enough to evaluate how you actually feel.
Are you truly happy with how things are going? Do you want to slow down, but just didn’t realize you felt that way because everything just… happened?
These kinds of questions help you maintain a healthy level of independence as you’re thinking for yourself, you’re doing what is right for you, and you’re actively making decisions rather than just getting swept up in it.
2. Keep spending time with friends.
It’s all too easy to fully immerse yourself into your relationship and your partner’s life – and this is a lovely way of showing your commitment to them.
However, you do also need to keep your own life going!
Keep seeing friends that aren’t in the mutual friend-bubble that you and your partner share.
This is important because you might be slightly different around them – maybe, during the early day of a relationship, you’re not 100% comfortable being yourself 100% of the time. With friends who’ve known you forever, however, you can be yourself and relax and let go.
Your friends will remind you how much you have going on in your life outside of the romantic bits! It’s good to remember that you have support and love from people other than your partner.
Although things might be amazing now, you will inevitably have some tough times in your relationship – that’s just life, sadly.
It’s important to maintain your friendships so that, when you need someone to turn to for relationship advice or need a shoulder to cry on, you haven’t alienated everyone other than your partner!
3. Pop out of the love bubble from time to time.
Remember that the real world exists. It’s very easy to become so wrapped up in the love bubble that you forget what’s going on in the wider world.
Take the time to just be two people existing in the real world – go for lunch and sit across from each other, eat your own food, and spend time in public.
You might have gotten so used to eating snuggled up on the sofa, feeding each other and being disgustingly coupley. This is very cute and probably makes you feel so happy, but you need to be able to function as a couple (and individuals) in the real world, too, if this relationship is going to last.
This is also a great reminder that you are independent and that you exist outside of your relationship.
You can do fun things together outside of your duvet den, you can go to a museum together but each wander into different rooms, you can do your own thing while being with someone else.
4. Keep doing your own hobbies.
So, you’ve missed your weekly yoga class a couple of times, and they’ve stopped going to football practice so that they can stay in bed with you on a Saturday morning. Adorable, yes? Healthy? No.
In order to maintain a good level of independence in your relationship, you both need to keep doing things you used to do.
We’re not saying you can’t cut back a bit or make some compromises, but you need to be okay with being apart sometimes.
We can very easily get caught up in loving doing things just because we get to do with them with a partner. This is totally normal but can make things trickier down the line.
You might not mind skipping a class now, but you may start resenting your partner for taking up so much of your time.
You might realize that you miss your yoga friends, or that your headstands have suddenly become terrible – this won’t be your partner’s fault, however much you want to blame them for it!
To avoid losing parts of your identity and starting to resent your partner, stick at your hobbies, keep doing things that make you happy, and find ways to enjoy being apart.
5. Stick to your values.
When we join our lives with another person, a lot of things merge and some compromises naturally need to be made.
During this phase, it’s very easy to throw away some of your ideals and happily proclaim that you’ll do whatever your partner wants.
While this is commendable in some ways, it can also lead to issues down the line, when you suddenly realize that going along with their values in place of your own isn’t quite what you thought it would be.
Instead of having those awkward conversations and having to go back on what you’ve said, put your foot down now and maintain your independence from day one.
Sure, you can still make compromises and be a healthy, fair partner, but you shouldn’t just forsake everything you believe in for your partner.
6. Set healthy boundaries.
Part of being independent in a relationship is maintaining those key aspects of yourself.
That might mean that you spend every Wednesday at your mum’s house, because that’s what you’ve always done.
This is a healthy boundary to set early on, and helps establish realistic expectations for you both of what your relationship will look like.
You can also communicate with your partner honestly about other boundaries – maybe if you’re working from their place a day a week, they need to respect that you can’t be disturbed.
Equally, they might ask you to give them some space to hang out with friends or play video games online.
Remember that setting boundaries isn’t about limitations or restrictions, it’s about healthy balance and long-term ways to strengthen your relationship.
Boundaries help you hang on to the life you had before you got into a relationship, and it’s what will really support you both in the future.
You also need to accept that your partner may want to do the same. It might initially feel hurtful that they want to keep a weekend a month free to spend time with friends, but you should actually feel grateful that they are independent and have a life outside you!
It means that they are way less likely to grow resentful of you being their only source of companionship, and it’s healthy that they are maintaining aspects of their life outside your relationship.
7. Know which emotions are yours, and which aren’t.
This kind of comes under the boundary-setting from above as it means setting emotional boundaries in your relationship.
This means that you can differentiate between emotions that are genuinely yours and those that you are absorbing from your partner and mistaking for your own.
Perhaps they are under stress at work and this manifests as them being moody and distant. Whilst it is natural to be impacted by this, you shouldn’t take on their stress and make it your own.
Being independent in a relationship means being able to maintain your emotional balance when they are unable to keep theirs, and vice versa.
After all, there’s often going to be circumstances that leave one of your feeling stressed or sad or angry. If you can’t separate your emotions from those of your partner, you’ll both spend all your time under a great emotional load.
8. Don’t allow the state of your relationship to dictate how you feel.
Okay, this isn’t exactly easy to do, but if your mood and your thoughts are only ever about your relationship, you are setting yourself up for a fall.
It might be all smiles now, but every relationship will hit a few bumps in the road, and it’s natural to be impacted by these rough patches.
But if you allow every other aspect of your life – your work, your other relationships, your dreams, your mental well-being – to be affected, you are relinquishing your power to decide how to feel.
To maintain your emotional independence, you can learn to compartmentalize your thoughts and feelings about your relationship so that they don’t bleed over into other parts of your life – or at least, not as much.
Let’s break this down: being independent in a relationship doesn’t mean that you never see your partner, or that you need to hugely limit how much time you spend together!
It’s all about keeping some key aspects from your life before you met them, and it’s a healthy way to ensure you have a balanced relationship.
Couples who spend every waking moment with each other might seem loved up, but they will eventually begin to resent each other and blame each other for no longer having close friends or for being bored because they gave up all their hobbies to spend more time together.
Avoid all of this by establishing some healthy boundaries and maintaining a sense of independence early on in the relationship. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder…
Still not sure how to be independent in a relationship? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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